19 August 2014

Kevin Cann's review of Funny Bones

The high highs and low lows of a Great British Comedian

Funny Bones by Freddie Davies is a serious piece of work. Not in the sense it is unfunny, as there is of course a lot of humour throughout, but it is a far more studied and well put together autobiography than I had expected. At 340 pages it covers Freddie's life and career in great detail, and also that of his grandfather, the comedian Jack Herbert, who proved an enormous inspiration for Freddie in his formative years. The research here is impeccable.

Freddie's career is here, warts and all, and in the glossy and apparently privileged world of showbusiness you really get the vulnerable and precarious side of maintaining an act and career too - and how hard it really is.

 He had his fair share of dealing with sharks over the years - strange venues, strange audiences, amazing audiences - extreme highs and money trouble lows. His dealings as a manager and promoter of many name acts is very interesting (having to work with strange divas like pianist Russ Conway is very revealing for one).

And I would suggest this would be a good book for anyone looking to make a career on the stage - whether it be straight acting or comedic work. Davies's lifetime experiences of different stage crafts comes through well, and how using that knowledge can not only aid your own performance but equally enable you to adjust to that of others - particularly when say a comedian (non-actor background but differently schooled) rehearses and performs with trained actors (non-comedic and differently schooled). I found that fascinating and I'm neither a stand-up or actor.

I loved Parrot Face when I was a kid - I had his album and single (Sentimental Songs) and remember his act well from TV, so was fascinated to know what had happened since - though I had seen him occasionally on TV (Harbour Lights, Casualty, Heartbeat etc) and of course as a grumpy oil painting that comes to life in a Harry Potter film, but often wondered what else kept him busy, or if he had semi-retired? (The answer to that is 'no' by the way - he has never stopped working, and he is now 77.)

Anyway, everything is here to answer all of those questions, and much more, and I loved every page. Thank you Freddie for making me laugh and for such an entertaining and well written book. Highly recommended.

                                                                                 Kevin Cann 

Buy Freddie Davies's autobiography Funny Bones from amazon (paperback) or direct from Scratching Shed Publishing (paperback or limited edition hardback)