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Tommy Cooper: Always Leave Them Laughing: The Definitive Biography of a Comedy Legend

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The first ever intimate portrait of Britain’s best-loved, but little known, comedy entertainer. Fully authorised, and written by Cooper’s friend and colleague John Fisher. More than just a comedian, Tommy Cooper was a born entertainer. Working in a golden age of British comedy, Cooper stood – literally – head and shoulders above the crowd, and had a magical talent for humou The first ever intimate portrait of Britain’s best-loved, but little known, comedy entertainer. Fully authorised, and written by Cooper’s friend and colleague John Fisher. More than just a comedian, Tommy Cooper was a born entertainer. Working in a golden age of British comedy, Cooper stood – literally – head and shoulders above the crowd, and had a magical talent for humour that defied description. But there was a man behind the laughter that few people saw. John Fisher was Cooper's friend and colleague and witnessed first-hand the moments of self-doubt and inadequacy that contrasted with the genial exterior. Until his tragic death on live television in 1984, Tommy Cooper lived in constant fear of the day he would be found out by his audience. He could never accept the accolades that came so thick and fast from every direction, and died to the sounds of laughter that he never really believed. Supplementing his own intimate knowledge with material accessed for the first time from the archives of Cooper's agent and manager, Miff Ferrie, and with the full co-operation of the Cooper family, John Fisher's warm, honest and insightful writing skilfully brings alive the man behind the comedic mask in this definitive biography of a comedy legend.


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The first ever intimate portrait of Britain’s best-loved, but little known, comedy entertainer. Fully authorised, and written by Cooper’s friend and colleague John Fisher. More than just a comedian, Tommy Cooper was a born entertainer. Working in a golden age of British comedy, Cooper stood – literally – head and shoulders above the crowd, and had a magical talent for humou The first ever intimate portrait of Britain’s best-loved, but little known, comedy entertainer. Fully authorised, and written by Cooper’s friend and colleague John Fisher. More than just a comedian, Tommy Cooper was a born entertainer. Working in a golden age of British comedy, Cooper stood – literally – head and shoulders above the crowd, and had a magical talent for humour that defied description. But there was a man behind the laughter that few people saw. John Fisher was Cooper's friend and colleague and witnessed first-hand the moments of self-doubt and inadequacy that contrasted with the genial exterior. Until his tragic death on live television in 1984, Tommy Cooper lived in constant fear of the day he would be found out by his audience. He could never accept the accolades that came so thick and fast from every direction, and died to the sounds of laughter that he never really believed. Supplementing his own intimate knowledge with material accessed for the first time from the archives of Cooper's agent and manager, Miff Ferrie, and with the full co-operation of the Cooper family, John Fisher's warm, honest and insightful writing skilfully brings alive the man behind the comedic mask in this definitive biography of a comedy legend.

30 review for Tommy Cooper: Always Leave Them Laughing: The Definitive Biography of a Comedy Legend

  1. 4 out of 5

    Baba

    At times I laughed out loud, other times I grimaced and towards the end I felt a certain sadness. An in depth with no details spared, with limited personal opinion given, this a must-read biography of one of the UK's most revered comics, Tommy Cooper. Can it answer the question was he a genius, just very lucky or an idiot? Only you can decide. A book that is much better than at face value, as it reveals the workings of the 20th century UK variety circuit, how the independent TV stations shook up At times I laughed out loud, other times I grimaced and towards the end I felt a certain sadness. An in depth with no details spared, with limited personal opinion given, this a must-read biography of one of the UK's most revered comics, Tommy Cooper. Can it answer the question was he a genius, just very lucky or an idiot? Only you can decide. A book that is much better than at face value, as it reveals the workings of the 20th century UK variety circuit, how the independent TV stations shook up the BBC monopoly and most essentially, how the more male orientated and dominated world impacted on Cooper and how he saw, and portrayed himself. Fisher is fair, so also covers the negatives, Cooper's illnesses, domestic abuse of his partner, his alcoholism, and even his anger issues and meanness. This warts and all biography of this one-of-a-kind comedian works so well because nothing is hidden, which in itself is a feat as Cooper was 'on' all the time and always seemed to hide his true self from everyone. 8 out of 12

  2. 5 out of 5

    Kahn

    A good biography, I always find, should put the subject front and centre and make their story the star of every page. It's not an unreasonable approach. You're writing a book about X. It's reasonable to assume people want to read about X. Or you can take the John Fisher approach and just chat about your mate. Making sure in the process that we know he was your mate. Along with all the other people who get name-dropped en route. Not that there's anything wrong with his approach per se, but when y A good biography, I always find, should put the subject front and centre and make their story the star of every page. It's not an unreasonable approach. You're writing a book about X. It's reasonable to assume people want to read about X. Or you can take the John Fisher approach and just chat about your mate. Making sure in the process that we know he was your mate. Along with all the other people who get name-dropped en route. Not that there's anything wrong with his approach per se, but when you've spent several pages banging on about how you were friends with the family and given unfettered access to Cooper's past it just comes across as someone thinking they already knew that stuff and so didn't need it. The play gets a few mentions too. Not a massive part of Cooper's life, to be fair, but certainly a bit part of Fisher's - a man clearly bored of not being known for what he did behind the scenes. I guess I'm just old fashioned. I like my biographies like I like my pandemic science - factual, not anecdotal.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Paul

    Oh dear - I had high hopes, but the author seems to have no sense of perspective. For all his great qualities, Tommy wasn't the best of all possible worlds (as John Fisher would like to believe), and he certainly doesn't appear to have been so in person - quite a complex man (which is what they say when they mean 'total '*******' of course). Tommy Cooper was very funny - watch the videos even today and I defy you not to laugh - but this book was written by a man too close to his subject and not a Oh dear - I had high hopes, but the author seems to have no sense of perspective. For all his great qualities, Tommy wasn't the best of all possible worlds (as John Fisher would like to believe), and he certainly doesn't appear to have been so in person - quite a complex man (which is what they say when they mean 'total '*******' of course). Tommy Cooper was very funny - watch the videos even today and I defy you not to laugh - but this book was written by a man too close to his subject and not able to give us a more balanced picture.

  4. 5 out of 5

    David Hull

    The one British comedian who was so funny, he would have my Dad in tears of laughter from the moment he walked on stage - for Dad, Tommy Cooper didn't even have to DO anything funny ... though merely by his appearance, fluffed magic tricks, jokes, and other 'silly' antics ... he was funny, hysterically funny! And its all captured in glorious detail in this wonderful biographical account of Tommy Cooper - "a Comedy Legend." A terrific read, and great happy memories - certainly for anyone who, lik The one British comedian who was so funny, he would have my Dad in tears of laughter from the moment he walked on stage - for Dad, Tommy Cooper didn't even have to DO anything funny ... though merely by his appearance, fluffed magic tricks, jokes, and other 'silly' antics ... he was funny, hysterically funny! And its all captured in glorious detail in this wonderful biographical account of Tommy Cooper - "a Comedy Legend." A terrific read, and great happy memories - certainly for anyone who, like my Dad and I, had the good fortune to see Tommy perform many 'televised' times. This will have anyone with similarly fond memories smiling throughout.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Nigel Street

    Like a number of his contemparies this autobiography charts Tommy's life from humble beginnings to the household name he became. Generous for the most part in the portrayl of such a funny man there is however an underlying selfish streak that taints the character. Undoubtedly well researched by an author who knew his subject personally it doesn't leave you with the same impression as you started. While this should be a good thing you somehow can't help coming away feeling slightly disappointed. Like a number of his contemparies this autobiography charts Tommy's life from humble beginnings to the household name he became. Generous for the most part in the portrayl of such a funny man there is however an underlying selfish streak that taints the character. Undoubtedly well researched by an author who knew his subject personally it doesn't leave you with the same impression as you started. While this should be a good thing you somehow can't help coming away feeling slightly disappointed.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Dead John Williams

    I guess you can only ever be saddened by the biography of a comedian. Sure there are laughs but they get lost in there somehow. Great detail about his hate campaign against his agent which lasted his entire career and ended only with Tommy’s death. Lots of stuff that maybe you really didn’t want to know but then again this is biography not a hagiography, which is what we really want. I’m glad I read it and I bet you would be too.

  7. 5 out of 5

    John

    I loved Tommy Cooper... I still recall watching him collapse on stage and realising - unlike a lot of the audience - that something was drastically wrong. This biography unravels tha man that was Tommy Cooper... his fame... his dreams... his insecurity. It is well written and I am certain the big man would have approved... Just like that!

  8. 5 out of 5

    Steve Chilton

    I laugh over and over again at Tommy Cooper's stuff, but this did not do him justice. It is written by someone who obviously had access to Cooper, but it is poorly written, and I found it hard to read. The author writes about comedians and magicians that may have influenced Cooper, yet for pages on end doesn't seem to mention Tommy. It could have been much shorter. I laugh over and over again at Tommy Cooper's stuff, but this did not do him justice. It is written by someone who obviously had access to Cooper, but it is poorly written, and I found it hard to read. The author writes about comedians and magicians that may have influenced Cooper, yet for pages on end doesn't seem to mention Tommy. It could have been much shorter.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Joe Stamber

    I think this was a gift, from someone who knows I love Tommy Cooper. It was easy to read and gave some insight into TC, without digging too deeply. It's interesting to read about the deals his agent made for live shows and TV appearances, and how the workload affected his personal life. Worth reading if you enjoy biographies or are a fan of TC. I think this was a gift, from someone who knows I love Tommy Cooper. It was easy to read and gave some insight into TC, without digging too deeply. It's interesting to read about the deals his agent made for live shows and TV appearances, and how the workload affected his personal life. Worth reading if you enjoy biographies or are a fan of TC.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Ian

    Strangely disappointing, the author's prose style seemed very stilted and unapproachable which made the book hard going. That said it does provide a detailed view of Cooper's career though perhaps just a tad sycophantic. Strangely disappointing, the author's prose style seemed very stilted and unapproachable which made the book hard going. That said it does provide a detailed view of Cooper's career though perhaps just a tad sycophantic.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Paul

    Great book written about a comic genius. Give a interesting insite into the man under the fez.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Simon Spencer

    Amazing funny man

  13. 4 out of 5

    Wilde Sky

    The sections containing parts of the comedian’s routine were very funny, but the rest of the book was a bit disappointing – having a stodgy writing style.

  14. 4 out of 5

    John Mitchell

    An informative and affectionate portrait of the legend that was Tommy Cooper

  15. 4 out of 5

    Andi Garbett

    An insight into the life of Tommy Cooper through the eyes of someone who knew him. Good anecdotes and an even better choice of jokes that were used.

  16. 4 out of 5

    David Shepherd

  17. 5 out of 5

    John

  18. 5 out of 5

    Steve Daly

  19. 4 out of 5

    Alistair

  20. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Sutherland

  21. 4 out of 5

    Tom Gallagher

  22. 5 out of 5

    Mick

  23. 5 out of 5

    Mrs me Wharton

  24. 5 out of 5

    John Newcomb

  25. 5 out of 5

    Sophie Kennedy

  26. 5 out of 5

    Michael J.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Ash Lucas

  28. 4 out of 5

    sam cerw

  29. 4 out of 5

    mrs d.m jerrard

  30. 4 out of 5

    Rose

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