I Laughed, I Cried: Chortle Comedy Book Festival at Ealing Town Hall

Comedian Viv Groskop performs on Tuesday 26th Nov

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They say it takes 100 gigs to know whether you can be a comedian. I Laughed, I Cried is the show of the book I wrote about testing this theory. I took it to the extreme and tried to crack the basics of stand-up in just over three months. It was an extraordinary experience. It was fun and it was awful. And it nearly broke me. Dubbed "hilarious" by the Independent, "heroic" by the Times, The Mail on Sunday called the book "frankly psychotic." So I must be doing something right.

On the surface the book is a diary of 100 gigs in 100 consecutive nights. Not very far beneath the surface, it’s a not-so-slow-motion mid-life crisis. I was (and still am) a BBC Radio 4 arts reviewer (Front Row), literary editor (Red magazine) and journalist (Guardian, Observer). But what I really wanted to be was a stand-up. My mission took me to venues legendary and louche across the country. I was booed at the Comedy Store (where I lasted 52 seconds against the brutal Gong). I was cheered at Lily Savage’s alma mater The Royal Vauxhall Tavern. And I narrowly avoided injury after a close encounter with a razor at the Leicester Square Theatre. From Brighton, Broadstairs and Cambridge to Lincoln, Sheffield and Truro, plus dozens of open mic shows across London and the Home Counties and an unexpected 72 hours in Atlanta, Georgia, where I was hailed as the natural successor to Hyacinth Bucket, I laughed, I cried and I tried to figure out if I could cut it as a stand-up comic.

It’s the story of a painful, exhilarating and amazing time, told through the eyes of a jaded, confused but hopeful middle-aged woman with too many children (three) and an exasperated husband who despairs of his wife’s “directionless comedy binge.” I started stand-up because it was the childhood dream I’d been too scared to follow. I did the 100 gigs because I needed to know if I could actually do comedy. I wrote the book because when I wanted to change my life in my late thirties, I couldn’t find anything that talked about what it’s like to start all over again – and not know if you’re going to succeed or fail.

The show is the live version of the book. It got a five-star review when it opened at the Edinburgh Fringe this summer ("inspirational" -- Broadway Baby) and I'm currently touring book festivals across the country with it ahead of a longer run at Edinburgh 2014. Mark Watson (also appearing at the Chortle Comedy Book Festival on Monday talking about his book Hotel Alpha) gets it: “Viv Groskop tackles her mission with wit, honesty and a devotion that borders on total insanity.”

Most exciting thing? First time performing in Ealing Town Hall. Bring it on.


Viv Groskop


BBC Radio 4's Viv Groskop’s I Laughed, I Cried is at Ealing Town Hall at 9.30pm on Tuesday 26 Nov. Tickets £7. Book here: http://www.comedybookfest.com/#!viv-groskop/c1idg
For more on Viv's writing and comedy, see www.vivgroskop.com


21 November 2013