From stage to page

19 comics' tales brought to book

Nineteen stand-ups - including Ed Byrne, Jenny Eclair, Stewart Lee and Arthur Smith - are to demonstrate their literary talents in a new collection of short stories.

Several of the contributers already have novels to their name, but Sit-Down Comedy is billed as the first book to showcase the writing of a wide selection of comics.

Each stand-up was given a free hand to experiment, and publicity for the book claims: "The result is one of the most amazing, groundbreaking anthologies of recent years."

Naturally, the comedy circuit provides the inspiration for some of the tales. The synopsis of Lee's contribution reads: " The most-feared venue in Britain has booked a legendary comic known for his harmonica, a pack of cards, a pair of dirty Y-fronts and a bag of wigs." And John Dowie has based his story around the personality clash between a brash Northern stand-up and a cerebral Southern one.

Other contributions include Jeff Innocent's social history of the Cockney, Simon Munnery's The True Confessions Of Sherlock Holmes (a subject he also explores in a Radio 4 show to be broadcast later this summer) and a trio of stories from Boothby Graffoe.

The other authors are Stephen Frost, Ricky Grover, Hattie Hayridge, John Hegley, Dominic Holland, Owen O'Neill, Linda Smith, Jim Tavare, Dave Thompson and Tim Vine

Sit-Down Comedy is has been edited by John Fleming and Malcolm Hardee, who worked together on Hardee's autobigraphy, I Stole Freddy Mercury's Birthday Cake.

The book is published by Ebury Press on August 7, and will be officially launched at the Edinburgh fringe. Click here to order an advance copy from

Published: 16 Jun 2003

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