"A cornerstone of its genre" -- John Fisher, writer and producer:
I can’t get over how good Funny Bones is. Freddie Davies’ autobiography, co-written with Anthony Teague, is unquestionably one of the most honest and illuminating books I have read about the practice of comedy, never losing sight of the pressures and insecurities of a job that is prone to more ups and downs than a roller coaster.
Along the way it provides fresh insights into other comedy greats, not least Sid Field, Sir Norman Wisdom, Frankie Howerd, Jerry Lewis, George Carl, Charlie Drake and Davies’ ostensible grandfather, the underrated revue comic Jack Herbert, who was a major influence on Field. It also vividly evokes the hollow shabbiness of so much of the late twentieth century British show business scene in that period betwixt the Beatles and Blur. In every way, a cornerstone of its genre.
"A Classic" -- Alwyn Turner, cultural historian:
With the exception of the really big stars (Tony Hancock, Spike
Milligan, Peter Cook), British comedians of the pre-alternative era
haven't been very well served by the publishing industry. The best that
most can hope for is to have their memoirs written up by a showbiz hack
from a local paper.
So congratulations to Freddie 'Parrot-Face' Davies for having enlisted the services of Anthony Teague to create this magnificent book. Beautifully written and endlessly enthusiastic about its subject, it's a marvellous portrait of a working comedian, complete with all the proper ingredients: the years of struggle, the overnight sensation, the slow decline, the career revivals.
Even if you've never thought of yourself as much of a fan, you're still going to love one of the few great biographies of British comedy.
"A researcher’s dream" -- Viv Gardner, University of Manchester:
This is one of those stories that just have to be told. It is unique – there has never been quite such a long and varied a career as Freddie Davies’s - but it is also the story of popular entertainment over the past 70 plus years: the hey day and decline of variety, clubs, cabarets and cruise entertainment, the rise of television comedy and subsequent changes in fashion, and the shifting relationship between popular and ‘high brow’ performance.
Freddie Davies has played every type of theatre in the country, from working men’s clubs and Butlins to the Royal Shakespeare Company, television and film, though his earliest memories are of the halls and variety theatres of the forties where his grandparents worked. His autobiography is replete with names and places, many long since forgotten, details of acts – his own and others’ – and whole bills.
It is also a ‘back-stage’ story. Davies has worked not just as a performer, but also as a producer, so the autobiography charts not just his own stage career but also the challenges of working with and supporting other artists – the ups and downs, the nuts and bolts of the entertainment business. A researcher’s dream. It is a fascinating and important story, not just a personal but also a social and performance history.