reviews and recommendations

Viv Groskop: I Laughed

2012 Funny Women Awards finalist Viv Groskop’s first book ‘I Laughed, I Cried: How One Woman took on Stand Up and (Almost) Ruined Her Life’ details the monumental challenge she undertook – performing at 100 gigs in 100 nights to see if she could make it as a stand-up. Viv first took to the stage  on the same bill as Stephen Fry during her days at Cambridge University (and nicked his fags, for which she apologises in the book.) However, prior to her 100 days experiment she had only performed comedy a couple of times, despite always having dreamed of becoming a professional stand-up.

The book details the highs and lows of gigs both in the UK and abroad, and is full of fun vignettes including venues that smell of sewage, the good people of Broadstairs shouting ‘slag’ at her, and the delights of cake vodka in Atlanta. But the book is far more than just a series of amusing anecdotes – it's  a moving account of facing up to your own personal abilities and limitations, and also a very useful beginners handbook for any wannabe new comedians.

'I Laughed, I Cried' is packed with information about promoters, venues, competitions and courses with a few familiar names thrown in along the way, (and a few not-so-pleasant ones expunged.) Viv throws light on all the niggly details that aspiring comedians might never have thought about: how you get bookings, the etiquette of car sharing, ‘doubling’ or ‘tripling’ gigs, and having to invite friends to excruciatingly embarrassing nights so the promoter will book you again. The £7.79 cover price is worth it for this information alone.

'I Laughed, I Cried' is an easy read, (I finished it in just over 24 hours,) but that does not mean that it is in any way trivial, in fact, quite the opposite: she details the impact her ‘Directionless Comedy Binge’ had upon her husband and her family with a straightforward searing honesty. Viv’s day job as a journalist means her writing is concise, engaging and impassioned, and gives you a real insight into the emotional journey she went through as she battled with her ambition and her conscience, without being overly sentimental.

Above all, the book is about whether it is possible to balance making the most of yourself and your talent when you have a family, and whether you can follow your dreams when they profoundly affect your nearest and dearest. We could all learn from the way that Viv approached this challenge – with a steely determination, openness to learn, and enough self-confidence to pick herself up, dust herself off and try again. It is the comedy world’s gain that she persevered, and if you need something to read to give yourself a kick up the bum to do the thing that you’ve always wanted to do, I can’t recommend this book highly enough.

Courtney Cooke

Viv Groskop’s book ‘I Laughed, I Cried: How One Woman Took on Stand Up and (Almost) Ruined Her Life' is available to purchase on Amazon HERE. To find out more about Viv you can visit her website HERE.

Viv will be bringing her one woman show based on the book to the Funny Women Pop Up Fringe as part of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival on Sunday 18th and Monday 19th August 2013. For more details click HERE.

Pictured: Viv during one of her laughing moments