Another quick this-book-has-been-on-my-To-Review-shelf-forever review, I’m afraid – my reading has been so shamefully little recently – but that means you get to hear about some fun books in short bursts. And today’s is Miranda Hart’s bestselling book Is It Just Me? Note that I don’t say ‘autobiography’ – we’ll come onto that later.
I suspect you know who Miranda Hart is, but indulge me for a moment. She is a comedian (we’re not saying ‘comedienne’ anymore, are we, please?) who sprung to fame in an eponymous sitcom where she falls over things, embraces middle-aged activities a little early, and generally makes fun of herself. I’m always drawn to female-driven sitcoms, so I’ve been watching since day one – but the third series, which finished here about a month ago, was the one which really saw Miranda pull in enormous audiences of over 9 million. One in seven people in the UK were watching, which is extraordinary.
The sitcom has the occasional dud episode, but generally I love, love, love it. How can I not feel affinity with a woman who, aghast at the idea of going out clubbing, says: “It’s 9 o’clock! Four words: Rush. Home. For. Poirot.” For those who don’t ‘get’ it, Miranda is just childish and meandering – but I really admire how she has made slapstick amusing to those of us who normally don’t care for it. I adore her friend Tilly and her ridiculous expressions (I was saying ‘McFact’ before it appeared on Miranda: McFact.) Stevie (with her ‘allure’) and Miranda have a wonderful friendship, which is all too rarely shown in comedy. And then there’s her Mum. It’s all great fun, and very watchable. And very British.
Which brings me onto Is It Just Me? Although it is by Miranda Hart, about Miranda Hart, it’s only really an autobiography to the extent that the sitcom is – it feels a lot like it’s been written ‘in character’. Presumably all the events she described happened, at least in outline, but it’s certainly selective. Her tales of dating, office life, holidays, weddings… they’re all written as though outlining an idea for a sketch comedy. Which is fine – it’s more than fine, it’s great – but it isn’t really an autobiography. She spends a lot of the time in faux-conversation with her 17-year-old self, disillusioning her of the idea that she’ll grow up into a graceful gazelle-type. (Since I talked to myself in my first Vulpes Libris column – see yesterday’s post – I don’t have a leg on which to stand.)
Of course, having languished on my To Review shelf for so long, I can’t remember any examples to give you. I chuckled my way through Is It Just Me? without making any notes on it, for reviewing purposes. So I’ll borrow this clip of Miranda reading an excerpt herself…
I haven’t mentioned yet, but this was a gift from my lovely friend Lucy, whom I love even though she went and LEFT Oxford last year, to move to big old London town.
So, yes, a giggle of a book which does no more and no less than you’d expect. Lots of amusing, light-hearted moments, and a surprisingly moving moment when she tells her younger self that her secret ambition to go into comedy has happened, and that she’s even spoken to her heroines French & Saunders. I guess it’s the perfect Christmas book, but since that’s been and gone… Mothering Sunday?
(By the by, if you have watched the sitcom, and enjoy Sally Phillips wonderful turn as Tilly, may I recommend you seek out her sitcom Parents…)