Helen Lederer writes her memoirs | Not That I’m Bitter covers the early years of alternative comedy © Matt Crockett

Helen Lederer writes her memoirs

Not That I’m Bitter covers the early years of alternative comedy

Helen Lederer has written her memoirs, about her experiences in the early days of stand-up.

Not That I’m Bitter: A Truly, Madly, Funny Memoir is due to be published by Mirror Books  in April.

The publisher’s description of the book reads: ‘What was it like as one of a handful of women at the heart of the right-on alternative comedy scene in the 1980s? Piece of cake? Bit of a laugh? Well, yes, and no. It had its ups – but also its downs. 

‘Helen Lederer was a regular on the stand-up circuit and new-wave sketch shows in the decade that launched the careers of today’s comedy household names and national treasures.

‘She shared stages with comedy pioneers such as Ben Elton and John Hegley, and TV screens with Dawn French, Jennifer Saunders, Harry Enfield, and many others. Not That I’m Bitter, her powerful, frank, moving and characteristically funny memoir, reveals exactly how choppy the waters could be. Even in those ground-breaking, anti-Thatcher days, there was only room at the top for so many women.

‘For the rest, it was as much a struggle to be seen and heard in the world of comedy as in any boardroom or workplace, and just as difficult to avoid the predators. This is more than the story of one decade, however.

‘The child of a Jewish-Czech wartime refugee, Helen Lederer was never part of the mainstream. How do you make humour from a lifelong battle against problems with weight and low-self-esteem? Where are the jokes in addictions to diet-pills and steroid injections? How can laughter defeat the darker moments, like a child’s anorexia or PTSD? How do you cope with constant self-sabotage when, despite enormous success, you still feel like a failure? Helen raises an important and open discussion around mental health alongside the evolved attitudes to women today. There’s something in Helen Lederer’s life-story that everyone can relate to.’

Helen book coverAs well as being  one of the first female stand-ups at the Comedy Store in London in  the 1980s, she is known for roles in the likes of  Absolutely Fabulous, Bottom and Hollyoaks. She was also a contestant on Celebrity Big Brother in 2017. 

More latterly a novelist – writing Finger Food in 2012 and Losing It in 2015 –  Lederer founded the Comedy Women In Print award, first handed out in 2019, to champion fellow female writers.

Not That I’m Bitter: A Truly, Madly, Funny Memoir  can be preordered from Amazon, priced £20.

Published: 29 Aug 2023

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