The Gig Delusion, by Andy Kind | Book review by Steve Bennett

The Gig Delusion, by Andy Kind

Book review by Steve Bennett

This is the ‘difficult second book’. Andy Kind has already chronicled his first steps in comedy in his 2011 debut, Stand Up And Deliver – but in the sequel he must maintain the interest as he criss-crosses the nation from gig to gig as a mid-level comic in what’s now a job, not an adventure. Indeed, he describes his daily life now as: ‘I drove to gig, I did the gig, people laughed somewhat, I drove away from the gig’.

The gimmick he employs to spice this up is the arbitrary Dave Gorman-like challenge: in this case performing a show in each of the 39 traditional English counties within ten weeks. It’s a labour a ferocious yet all-powerful agent has set him to prove his dedication to stand-up. Succeed – subject to the inevitable rules of engagement – and a lucrative management contract is his; fail and be doomed to mediocre gigs forever. Mwah, ha, ha...

This is clearly a fiction, and earns the book its status as a novel. How much of the rest is true, only the author knows, but for the most part, this reads pretty much a like a gig diary, or even an extended blog, as Kind recounts his life on the circuit.

Spiky Mike, Tony Vino, Addy Van Der Borgh, Paul Kerensa and a whole host more real-life comics and promoters make an appearance. Mostly too casually introduced to be characters, they exist only as names, dropped in the name of flattery or friendship. If you are a very keen follower of the circuit, these may mean something to you, but the casual reader will draw a blank.

As well as the gig challenge, more jeopardy is introduced by way of his fiancee Betty; and the aspect of a comic’s life that the book captures best is the tug-of-war between comedy and a normal, devoted relationship. When one half of a couple is out working every night in every corner of this country – a truth for any comedian whether embarking on an mad odyssey or not – it’s bound to take a toll. When that job is something as self-centred and financially insecure as stand-up, the problems are magnified.

This is very similar ground to journalist Viv Groskop’s book, out tomorrow and to be reviewed on Chortle soon, in which her marriage was strained after she vowed to perform 100 gigs in 100 days. Kind might have been first out of the gate, but is likely to come off worst in sales for being the less well-known of the two.

Arbitrary challenges and a major penultimate-chapter romantic drama aside, The Gig Delusion cannot help but have an air of authenticity, and it’s breezily written in the effortless conversational style of, well, a stand-up. The only drawback is Kind’s tiresome habit of making jokes in the form of hashtags. #lame. And several times a chapter, too. #borednow.

Amusing anecdotes keep the narrative bouncing along, whether from weird gigs or the laddish escapades of a comic on the road (or on his stag do). Kind is not a wild-living comic, so no vicarious tales on that front, but it paints the portrait of a man whose job means he never has to grow up or settle down – exactly what his girlfriend wants.

Perhaps because it’s so close to home, this doesn’t quite have the caper spirit of a Gorman or a Danny Wallace; and the appeal to those who don’t know the stand-up circuit is likely to be limited. But if you’re reading this, chances are you’re already in the target audience.

• The Gig Delusion by Andy Kind is published by Wilmot Books, priced £6.79. Click here to buy from Waterstones.

Published: 26 Jun 2013

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