Friday, September 12, 2014

Audiobook: “Small Man In A Book” by Rob Brydon (Audible/Penguin)

BrydonR-SmallManInABookJust the sort of memoir I’d imagine Brydon would write: endearing, engaging, and funny

A multi-award-winning actor, writer, comedian and presenter known for his warmth, humour and inspired impressions, Rob Brydon has quickly become one of our very favourite entertainers. But there was a time when it looked like all we’d hear of Rob was his gifted voice.

Growing up in South Wales, Rob had a passion for radio and soon the Welsh airwaves resounded to his hearty burr. However, these were followed by years of misadventure and struggle, before, in the TV series Marion and Geoff and Gavin and Stacey, Rob at last tickled the nation’s funny bone. The rest, as they say, is history. Or in his case autobiography.

Small Man in a Book is Rob Brydon’s funny, heartfelt, honest, sometimes sad, but mainly funny, memoir of how a young man from Wales very, very slowly became an overnight success.

Rob Brydon has been in, or involved with an awful lot of productions that I am familiar with. Some, of course, are more famous – Gavin & Stacey and Marion and Geoff were very popular in the UK, for example. More recently, his two excellent road-trip shows with Steve Coogan. This is a delightful audiobook, delivered perfectly, and entertaining throughout.

Small Man in a Book details Rob Brydon’s slow rise to fame. Brydon’s success has come slowly and gradually, but in some ways I think inevitably. He is personable, versatile, and alternately laugh-out-loud funny and awkwardly endearing. Like a number of now-famous actors and entertainers, Brydon started with brief stints at less-than-exciting outlets (the Home Shopping Network in Rob’s case) before moving on to voice-over work. Interestingly, he voiced a number of characters in the Discworld computer games and the lead character in Discworld Noir. This was a pleasant surprise, as I loved those games. Sadly, Brydon thought the experience was rather boring (understandable, though, given the multiple variations of every sentence he had to record).

After co-wroting and performing in the breakthrough show Human Remains, his career has just been going up and up. But in a rather calm, almost too-British way. Throughout this audiobook, Brydon is engaging and endearing. He’s quietly funny, peppering his delivery with many great impressions (Michael Caine is particularly good, and brought to mind a scene in The Trip, in which Brydon and Coogan have a Caine-off, comparing and critiquing each other’s impression). He talks of an awkwardness with women when he was younger, using many great metaphors to convey just how awkward. Bruce Springsteen makes frequent appearances, as one of Brydon’s favourite musicians (one of mine, too).

Brydon takes us through all the ups and downs of his life and career – the highs and lows, triumphs and disappointments. He speaks very fondly and generously of those he’s worked with over the past, with genuine affection for long-time collaborators, his family and the aforementioned Bruce Springsteen. Small Man in a Book is a funny memoir, but one that is also a calm and endearing listen.

Brydon’s delivery is excellent, and the production crystal clear. If you are even remotely familiar with his work, listening to Small Man in a Book will most likely make you aware that you are more familiar than you thought, and certainly make you want to become more familiar with his work.

Very highly recommended.

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