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Lee Mack: Mack the Life review by Rich Jevons

Lee Mack: Mack the Life, the Autobiography

Lee Mack is one of the UK’s most crucial and comical stand-up performers as well as a prolific screenwriter (‘Not Going Out’) and team captain of ‘Would I Lie to You?’ His autobiography is both revelatory and riveting, for all the right reasons (or, as he might contrarily insist, all the wrong reasons, he does beef up his mishaps!)

One particularly deft device is to break up his life story with inserted intermissions where he discusses his mental state and the very notion of being a comedian with a psychiatrist. The emphasis is on the craft of writing as a discipline rather than comedy as an innate talent or ‘genius’.

His childhood and adolescent memories are simply hilarious with a warts’n’all approach that spares no one (including family, friends as well as himself) with a brutal honesty grounded in his Southport roots.

His mistaken desires for success as a golf/footie/darts pro or even astronaut are, of course, total delusions. But what remains consistent throughout his narrative is his dogged determination to be a successful comic having been inspired by the likes of Ben Elton, Steve Koogan et al.

His early stage work at Pontin’s is recalled with side-splitting hilarity as are his early days on the London comedy circuit. Then the sections on his subsequent success contain great insight as well as continuing the self-deprecating humour.

You certainly wouldn’t want to be on his hit-list as he can be almost cruel in some of his more scathing remarks. But his sarcasm is not simply cynicism and negativity though it does come across a rant at times, something he readily admits.

Overall, an incisive insight into the mindset of an outspoken maverick with lots of laugh-out-loud moments and more than a few belly-wobblers. The book’s title is a pun on Brecht’s Mack the Knife from the Threepenny Opera but Lee prefers to use his wild wit and wonder as opposed to a dangerous dagger.

Published by Bantam Press, part of Tranworld Books, £18.99.

Rich Jevons