Stand Up And Deliver by Andy Kind

Book review by Steve Bennett

There are, undoubtedly books around on the experiences of being a comedian that are more emotive, or more inspirational than Andy Kind’s. But there are few that are more meticulously accurate about the day-to-day existence of a comedy beginner.

The weeks spent trudging round the country for modest gigs and no money – yet being disproportionately grateful for the stage time; the camaraderie and occasional competitiveness of fellow open spots; the pressure to make the best of often unplayable rooms – it’s all captured here.

He surely won’t thank me for saying this, but Kind is probably not destined to be a star comedian. He’s now performed more than 600 gigs, yet he hasn’t made many waves on the circuit. Nonetheless he is clearly competent; constantly gigging and – now, at least – getting paid to do so, thus realising an ambition beyond what most would-be stand-ups ever achieve.

So Stand Up And Deliver isn’t Steve Martin reminiscing about his days on the road, decades later from his a mansion built on success, but a jobbing comic’s still-fresh diaries of how he came to land the only career he ever thought he could do.

Kind graduated with a French degree, on the back of a reasonably notable school record, so to say that his parents weren’t overly enamoured with his choice of job, after a year of drifting around dead-end telesales jobs, is probably an understatement. His father’s gradual change of mood is a key theme of the book, from disappointment over the pitiful wages Kind was bringing home (yes, he lived with his parents) to an unstated respect for pursuing a dream.

But primarily it’s a chronicle of his gigs, from his nerve-racked, dry-mouthed debut at the Cellar Bar in Bath, run by those infamous promoters of low-level gigs Mirth Control, through to competing in the Frog & Bucket’s gladiatorial Beat The Frog night in Manchester; and then to his first death on stage, so severe he was ready to pack it all in.

New comics will recognise all these chapters – or if they don’t, they will. And, like anyone who’s spent any time on the circuit, Kind has a solid bank of entertaining anecdotes – from the promoter who had the sweary kind of Tourette’s to his cringeworthy encounter with a faded celebrity.

So for anyone embarking on a similar adventure, Stand Up And Deliver offers an accurate and honest roadmap of what they can expect in their first year, even if a wider audience might seek more drama.

A cathartic final chapter in which he emotionally revisits an old relationship does prove surprisingly moving – though it’s rather out of contex; a public purging of guilt rather than an episode naturally emerging from his stand-up career. It’s an incident that may be born out of a desire to do the right thing after Kind, a former serial philanderer, was born-again as a Christian.

His faith, unusual in the largely godless world of comedy, does pop up from time to time – so non-believers might find it odd to encounter sentences like: ‘Being a Christian is about being in a daily, intimate relationship with the risen Christ’… but while it’s part of who he is, he does realise this could be a turn-off and doesn’t bang on about it too much.

For throughout the book, Kind projects an accessible, warm, upbeat demeanour that makes for an easily enjoyable read for those keenly interested in exactly what the early years of a comic’s career entail.

  • Stand Up And Deliver by Andy Kind is published by Elevation, priced £7.99. Click here to order from Amazon for £4.19.

Published: 15 Jun 2011

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