Mack The Life – Lee Mack
Book Review Rating: *****
Publisher: Transworld Publishers – Corgi Books
Mack the Life – For further information and book purchase
I’m sure the writing skills and discipline required to write his smash hit sit-com ‘Not Going Out’ came in very handy as Lee Mack evidently spent a lot more time not going out, just to stay in and write his autobiography. It was actually published in 2012 but I’ve only just read it. Only 6 years late but better late than never as they say! I was of course hoping that, much like a fine wine, the book would mature with age! Let’s see.
Frivolous comments aside – and if you like those – there are hundreds of them to be found here, Mack the Life is a brilliantly funny and enlightening insight into Lee Mack’s background – born and raised in Southport, near Liverpool and the story of his journey into the world of stand-up comedy. For anyone genuinely interested in knowing what it takes to become a professional stand-up comedian and potentially a TV comedian too, there are plenty of insights as he walks us along his road, or rather path to success (as walking along the road might have resulted in a very different and much shorter life story) as one of the nation’s top stand-up comedians.
In common with most performers, Lee Mack cannot claim to have been an overnight success. That much is clear as he takes the reader through the many trials and tribulations, the rites of passage, so to speak, that most Comedians endure as they try to make it, first by seeking opportunities to perform on stage, be it at student comedy nights, small open mic nights, to performing at the Edinburgh Fringe and so on. Not only that, once on stage, it’s about proving yourself worthy, as far as paying audiences are concerned, of standing on that stage. That is a very difficult one to crack and few careers are more unforgiving than that of the stand-up Comedian. There are not many where the feedback on your performance is instant – be that great, awful or somewhere in between.
This is an indispensable read not only for fans of Lee Mack, but for any would be Comedian wanting to break into the comedy circuit or Comedian wanting to take their career to the next level for it vividly highlights the plain old fashioned hard work, inevitable set backs and the smattering of luck that is required to go on to become a professional stand-up Comedian. That, of course, is not exclusive to comedy, for the same could apply to many professions.
The story behind the hit sit-com ‘Not Going Out’ and other TV shows are told in great detail which makes for very revealing, behind the scenes accounts regarding the all important commissioning and re-commissioning process required to make shows in the first place, before you even get to the business of making a TV show that will be broadcast.
There’s no resting on your laurels in the TV comedy business either thinking that being commissioned once means that’s it, for each series you do stands or falls on its success. There are no guarantee’s of longevity.
It was interesting to read about his work with comedy actress Catherine Tate and her role in Lee’s career path. I really enjoyed the running theme/gag of Lee being in the Psychiatrist’s chair to open and close each chapter of the book. That was a clever way of revealing a little bit of Lee Mack’s psyche, whilst playfully trying to hide his true self behind this play of him being on the couch. Some would say many comedians would actually benefit from a spell on the therapist’s couch and I daresay this is a deliberate nod to that. Having said that, Lee Mack is not one of those comedians known for oversharing, confessional comedy and you get the very real sense he has his head screwed on and doesn’t allow himself to get carried away by showbusiness and all it’s excesses, which whilst they can be enjoyable, can be damaging if not kept well under control.
This is a wonderful, insightful, frank, hugely enjoyable and funny read from start to finish. Whether or not the book has improved over the years like a fine wine I can’t say (ask me if I re-read it again in many years time) but what I do know for sure is that Lee Mack certainly has not looked back since turning professional in 1995 as he career has gone on from strength to strength.
© Tiemo Talk of the Town