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Easily Distracted By Psychology And Cats
Steve Coogan was born and raised in Manchester in the 1960s, the fourth of six children. From an early age, he entertained his family with impressions and was often told he should ‘be on the telly. Failing to get into any of the London-based drama schools, he accepted a place at Manchester Polytechnic School of Theatre and before graduating had been given his first break as a voice artist on the satirical puppet show Spitting Image.
The late eighties and early nineties saw Coogan developing characters he could perform on the comedy circuit, from Ernest Moss to Paul Calf, and in 1992 he won a Perrier award with John Thomson. It was around the same time, while working with Armando Iannucci and Patrick Marber on On The Hour and The Day Today, that Alan Partridge emerged, almost fully formed.
Coogan, once a tabloid fixture, is now a respected film actor, writer, and producer. He runs his own production company, Baby Cow, has a raft of films to his name (from 24 Hour Party People to Alpha Papa, the critically-acclaimed Partridge film), six Baftas, and seven Comedy Awards. He has found huge success in recent years with both The Trip and Philomena, the latter bringing him two Oscar nominations, for producing and co-writing.
In Easily Distracted he lifts the lid on the real Steve Coogan, writing with distinctive humor and an unexpected candor about a noisy childhood surrounded by foster kids, his attention-seeking teenage years, and his emergence as a household name with the birth of Alan Partridge. Easily Distracted By Psychology And Cats T-Shirt
Bought for me as a present, this was more engaging than expected – I do like Steve Coogan’s work but didn’t previously have a particular opinion of the man himself. This however read as one of the better ‘comedian’s autobiography’ books I have read – Coogan’s style is understated, charming, witty, and self-aware. Quite a lot about his childhood and early professional life (which is as I like it – too much ‘post success’ content often comes over in an autobiography as name-droppy) and a sensible and honest sense of introspection about his lower-middle-class Catholic upbringing and life too. The choice not to format the book in a strict chronological manner was also an added plus – it hence didn’t feel weighed down by inevitability or ‘fade out’ towards the current day either IMHO. An enjoyable read
Everybody has a comedic touchstone – a stand-up or a sitcom they can go back to time and again and know just how easy it will tickle them and engage fond memories. Steve Coogan and his comic creations have seen me through my adolescence, my uni days, and my working life so far. Alan Partridge is – as for many Coogan fans – my ultimate comfort comedy; the one I can recite backward. I can still laugh at his frantic and futile attempts to placate enraged farmers despite a thousand previous viewings.
Easily Distracted By Psychology And Cats T-Shirt
Perhaps part of the challenge in appreciating Easily Distracted is in remembering that this is the autobiography of Steve Coogan and not one of his creations. Indeed, after I read it and put it on my bookshelf, my wife asked me to fetch it so she could have a read, and – unconsciously – I picked up I, Partridge, instead. I could imagine Steve shaking a mock-angry fist at me for doing so, and at those who claim there is too much similarity between him and his comic characters (and between some of those creations). But this only strengthens a point Coogan tries to get across in telling his story – that there is a bit of Alan Partridge, Paul Calf, Gareth Cheeseman, Duncan Thickett, and coin Steven Coogan and vice versa. It’s not a secret, it’s a fact – one he is happy to acknowledge and embrace. In Easily Distracted, Coogan does not try to paint a whiter-than-white image of himself; rather, he accepts himself for what he is, vices and virtues. He talks of his youthful, idealistic visions of his future self – unflappable, engaging, and witty – but acknowledges the man he has become: a man who at times can exhibit all of these qualities and at other times none of them. It’s quite a rational and balanced stance and one that is not hard to empathize with; it certainly helped me as a reader to understand a little bit more about the man behind the comic mask. Easily Distracted By Psychology And Cats T-Shirt
The book – slightly unconventionally for an autobiography – starts with the here and now, the recent times of the Coogan we think we know: the darkness of the Leveson inquiry, the exhausting realities behind the Partridge movie, and his pride at the BAFTA-winning Philomena (an excellent demonstration of his abilities as a straight actor). It then settles into a more typical chronological account of his life, delivered in enjoyably raconteurial rhetoric: from his sepia-tinted memories of boyhood holidays in Ireland (I challenge any child of the 50s, 60s, or 70s to read this without drifting off to memories of their own holidays of this ilk) and life in his somewhat eccentric family home, to his struggles to break into comedy and acting, then on to the stellar rise that followed… and the well-documented baggage that came with it. It’s an engaging and fulfilling journey, though I suspect – and respect – that Steve hasn’t given us absolutely everything (who would?) Easily Distracted By Psychology And Cats T-Shirt
Easily Distracted By Psychology And Cats T-Shirt
Being such a fan of his comedy, there was a big part of me looking for in-gags in each paragraph, but that’s not what this book is about. It does have gags and it did have me chuckling away, But he makes it clear that straight comedy doesn’t quite cut it for him anymore. That said, there are a few Easter eggs in there, such as on page 201 when he refers to that excellent James Bond movie ‘To Russia With Love’ (To Russia? Stop getting Bond wrong!).
Easily Distracted works well in doing what I think it set out to achieve: presenting Steve Coogan, as he is, without apology. An entertaining, at times gritty and at times warm, and consistently thought-provoking read.