I think it would be fairly accurate to say Jennifer Saunders is a comedy hero of most of the people that make up the Funny Women office, so we were very excited to receive a review copy of her book 'Bonkers'. Jennifer warns that this is not one of those misery memoirs her publishers say are so popular nowadays, it is not a “mis mem” because she has had very little “mis” in her life.
This is certainly not a mis mem, Jennifer's style is so strong in this book, she frequently indulges in massive digressions or daydreams in the middle of specific stories, that you cannot help but read it in her voice. Some may think of her as the quieter member of French & Saunders but she explains this away early on an immobile top lip: “I blame it on playing the flute, but it could just be my reluctance to move my mouth at all when speaking.”
Considering Jennifer admits to having little to no memory (she even amusingly refers the reader to comedy partner Dawn French's book 'Dear Fatty' for accurate and detailed recollections), often being surprised by diary entries and school reports contradicting what she does recall this book is extremely entertaining and told in Jennifer's trademark laidback manner. And she's pretty sure her memory has not lapsed so much that she forgot starring in a porn film during her time as an au pair in Italy. So that tabloid rumour can be put to rest. She thinks…
The book charts her rise from biology class mouse breeder (if you like mutant mice anecdotes this book is for you) to accidental student teacher to layabout too dedicated to laying about to sign on to the dole. I was aware of how Jennifer and Dawn met at Central, I was not aware that it was actually Jennifer who – a year or two after the pair had graduated – initiated their comedy reunion after they had taken the Central actor's cabaret by storm with nipple tassels worn on the back of their leotards. Spotting an ad in The Stage for female comedians Jennifer decided to give comedy a proper go at The Comic Strip and French & Saunders never looked back.
It is a great little peek into the relationship the comedy duo have. The secret to their success, Jennifer believes, is that they have always put their friendship first, they know what makes the other tick. This meant Jennifer could convince Dawn to accept a BAFTA fellowship Award and attend the ceremony, “I dealt a low blow by telling her not to think about it as an award for herself but as something that would make her mother very proud. So low.”
For a 'celebrity memoir' of someone who always strikes me as very private (though we now know this is down to a lazy top lip and not reticence) this is a surprisingly 'no holds barred' book. Jennifer's marriage to Ade Edmonson, their family and her recent experience with chemo and her recovery is all described in the book – with notable affection for all.
I would highly recommend you kick off this 'Super Thursday' by buying a copy of Jennifer Saunder's 'Bonkers'.
Jennifer Saunders’ book ‘Bonkers: My Life in Laughs' is available to purchase on Amazon HERE.