Book: Only When I Laugh

By Paul Merton
Ebury, €14.99; ebook, €8.99
Review: Hannah Stephenson

With typical humorous aplomb, the deadpan comedian, writer and improvisation ace takes us back to his working-class Fulham childhood through to his first steps in stand-up comedy and wider career in improvisation and TV stardom in Have I Got News For You, Room 101 and Just A Minute.

This autobiography is peppered with hilarious and revealing anecdotes about Paul ‘Martin’s’ early days at The Comedy Store and comic influences who included Alexei Sayle, as well as the friendships he formed with others on the circuit like Julian Clary, Josie Lawrence and Tony Hawks. He also manages to see the funny side of what must have been a hellish six-week stay in Maudsley Psychiatric Hospital following a manic episode when his career was on the rise.

What we see is the comedy inside Paul Merton’s head, but the chapters are a little lacking in emotion. He doesn’t delve into his close personal relationships. His eight-year marriage to Caroline Quentin barely covers a few pages, while the death from cancer of his second wife Sarah Parkinson is also not given too much space.

But as an upbeat, witty escape into the funny world of Paul Merton, it must surely be a Christmas hit.


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