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  • gilwilson 6:46 PM on August 30, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: a fish called wanda, , comedy, , ,   

    “So, Anyway…” By John Cleese 

    33032675“So, Anyway…”
    By John Cleese
    Narrated by: John Cleese
    Length: 13 hrs and 32 mins
    Release date: 12-13-16
    Publisher: Random House Audio

    So, Anyway, yeah I had to start the review out that way.  So, anyway, I’m a huge fan of John Cleese and all of the Monty Python Alum.  I remember watching “Monty Python’s Flying Circus” every weekend on my local PBS station as a kid.  I would just laugh and laugh until my sides hurt.  The funny thing was that everyone else in my family would say they couldn’t understand them through their accents.  I would always ask, “how can you not? They are speaking English.”  It frustrated me to no end that a bunch of hillbillies from Oklahoma couldn’t get the humor because they couldn’t understand the language.  Eventually I trained them and after some time they could finally get “The Parrot Sketch.” Then when I introduced them to the series, “The Goodies,” they were able to follow the humor along with me.

    So, Anyway, John Cleese’s autobiography is a must for any Python fan.  Cleese not only tells of his upbringing, his education (he studied law and wanted to originally become a lawyer, or Great Britain’s version of same) and his brief career teaching.  This part of the book is interesting but not nearly as entertaining as when he finally starts talking about his career in entertainment.  For me the fun part was hearing all the great talent he had worked with, Marty Feldman, David Frost, Peter Sellers, et. al.  Creating several sketch comedy shows with this talent helped him to mold what was to become a world wide phenomenon of Python.  Through the early years he had worked with Tim Brooke Taylor (who later went on to write for and act in the series, “The Goodies”).

    With this audiobook, not only do you get the treat of Cleese talking about his own life and making comments on same, but he also includes clips of some of the sketches from the various programs he wrote and performed on.   It was funny to hear him and Marty Feldman actually perform a sketch rather than just read the script.  Comedy depends 100% on delivery.  For anyone who has seen the movie, “Rain Man,” that truth comes out when Raymond can recite the Abbott & Costello bit “Who’s on First.”  It’s not funny when he recites it but seeing/hearing it performed it takes on a whole new life.  Besides that it was just a treat to hear the original sketches.

    Yeah, you’ll have to trudge through the boring parts of John Cleese growing up, but that is part of the big picture which gives us the gift behind the talent of John Cleese.


    Publisher’s Summary
    John Cleese’s huge comedic influence has stretched across generations; his sharp, irreverent eye and the unique brand of physical comedy he perfected with Monty Python, on Fawlty Towers, and beyond now seem written into comedy’s DNA. In this rollicking memoir, So, Anyway…, Cleese takes listeners on a grand tour of his ascent in the entertainment world, from his humble beginnings in a sleepy English town and his early comedic days at Cambridge University (with future Python partner Graham Chapman) to the founding of the landmark comedy troupe that would propel him to worldwide renown.

    Cleese was just days away from graduating Cambridge and setting off on a law career when he was visited by two BBC executives who offered him a job writing comedy for radio. That fateful moment – and a near-simultaneous offer to take his university humor revue to London’s famed West End – propelled him down a different path, cutting his teeth writing for stars like David Frost and Peter Sellers and eventually joining the five other Pythons to pioneer a new kind of comedy that prized invention, silliness, and absurdity. Along the way he found his first true love with the actress Connie Booth and transformed himself from a reluctant performer to a world-class actor and back again.

    Twisting and turning through surprising stories and hilarious digressions – with some brief pauses along the way that comprise a fascinating primer on what’s funny and why – this story of a young man’s journey to the pinnacle of comedy is a masterly performance by a master performer.

    ©2016 John Cleese (P)2016 Random House Audio

  • gilwilson 6:13 PM on May 8, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: comedian, comedy, lgbtq, transvestite   

    “Believe Me: A Memoir of Love, Death and Jazz Chickens” By Eddie Izzard 

    Believe Me: A Memoir of Love, Death and Jazz Chickens
    By: Eddie Izzard
    Narrated by: Eddie Izzard
    Length: 14 hrs and 39 mins
    Release date: 06-13-17
    Publisher: Penguin Audio

    If you have ever seen the standup comedy of Eddie Izzard you know that his humor is rambling, sometimes nonsensical, monologues. His autobiography is no different. In fact if you listen to the audiobook you’ll be treated to endless footnotes that tend to ramble off subject giving the listener even more insights to the life of Eddie Izzard than would someone just reading the book because Eddie reads the audiobook and gets sidetracked. Find out how his humor developed, how he managed to get into standup and acting and then how that lead to him becoming a political activist, and be sidetracked throughout.

    Publisher’s Summary
    Critically acclaimed, award-winning British comedian and actor Eddie Izzard details his childhood, his first performances on the streets of London, his ascent to worldwide success on stage and screen, and his comedy shows, which have won over audiences around the world.

    Over the course of a 30-year career, Eddie Izzard has proven himself to be a creative chameleon, inhabiting the stage and film and television screens with an unbelievable fervor. Born in Yemen and raised in Ireland, Wales, and postwar England, he lost his mother at the age of six. In his teens he dropped out of university and took to the streets of London as part of a two-man escape act; when his partner went on vacation, Izzard kept busy by inventing a one-man act, and thus a career was ignited. As a stand-up comedian, Izzard has captivated audiences with his surreal, stream-of-consciousness comedy – lines such as “cake or death?” “Death Star canteen”, and “do you have a flag?” have the status of great rock lyrics. As a self-proclaimed “executive transvestite”, Izzard broke the mold performing in full makeup and heels and has become as famous for his advocacy for LGBT rights as he has for his art. In Believe Me, he recounts the dizzying rise he made from street busking to London’s West End to Wembley Stadium and New York’s Madison Square Garden.

    Still performing more than 100 shows a year – thus far in a record-breaking 28 countries worldwide – Izzard is arguably one of today’s top kings of comedy. With his brand of keenly intelligent humor that ranges from world history to pop culture, politics, and philosophy, he has built an extraordinary fan base that transcends age, gender, and race. Writing with the same candor and razor-sharp insight evident in his comedy, he reflects on a childhood marked by unutterable loss, sexuality and coming out, as well as a life in show business, politics, and philanthropy. Honest and generous, Izzard’s Believe Me is an inspired account of a very singular life thus far.

    ©2017 Eddie Izzard (P)2017 Penguin Audio

  • gilwilson 11:32 AM on January 14, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: classic radio, comedy, golden age of radio,   

    Classic Radio’s Greatest Comedy Shows, Vol. 1 12 Half-Hour Original Radio Broadcasts By: Hollywood 360 

    Classic Radio’s Greatest Comedy Shows, Vol. 121509838
    12 Half-Hour Original Radio Broadcasts
    By: Hollywood 360
    Length: 5 hrs and 50 mins
    Original Recordings
    Release date: 07-22-14
    Publisher: Black Eye Entertainment / Blackstone Audio

    I have always loved old radio programs. When I was a kid I would take my little transistor radio to bed and tune the AM dial around until I heard a station out of Tennessee that would play radio dramas every Friday and Saturday night. Most of the time they were horror or suspense stories which is what would keep my pre-teen attention. Little did I know, that it was also what would plant the seed that lead to a 30+ (so far) career in radio broadcasting.

    I’m not sure when radio dramas stopped being a thing, I really wish they would bring them back. The theater of the mind from radio is why I do what I do. When I write commercials my first focus is to create a audibly visual landscape. But that being said the days of the true radio performances happened in the golden age of radio, approx 1920 – 1950. The entertainment ranged from suspense, drama (especially soap operas), comedy, and variety shows and would keep people entertained for hours. Alas, those days are pretty much over. But thanks to Hollywood 360 / Black Eye Entertainment / Blackstone Audio we can now enjoy those golden age programs.

    This particular collection contains nearly 6 hours of some classic comedy programming. So you can re-live those thrilling days of yesteryear. The best part is that they are still somewhat relevant and still very funny.

    Publisher’s Summary

    This collection contains twelve of the greatest comedy shows ever broadcast during the golden age of radio. You’ll hear Ozzie and Harriet Nelson in The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet, Freeman Gosden and Charles Correll as Amos ‘n’ Andy, Robert Young in Father Knows Best, Jim and Marian Jordan as Fibber McGee and Molly, William Bendix as Chester A. Riley in The Life of Riley, Lucille Ball in My Favorite Husband, Eve Arden as English teacher Connie Brooks in Our Miss Brooks, plus many others, including The Fred Allen Show, The Aldrich Family,The Great Gildersleeve, Life with Luigi, and Lum & Abner.

    Relive twelve of the best classic radio comedy shows from yesterday and hear the legendary stars who made them great in this incredible collection.

    Contents include:

    • The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet, “Housekeeping,” starring Ozzie Nelson and Harriet Hilliard
    • The Aldrich Family, “Henry Forgets to Mail a Letter,” starring Ezra Stone
    • The Amos ‘n’ Andy Show, “Andy Gets a Job as Charles Boyer’s Valet,” starring Freeman Gosden and Charles Correll, with special guest Charles Boyer
    • Father Knows Best, “The Elusive Card Game,” starring Robert Young
    • Fibber McGee & Molly, “Jewelry Store Robbery,” starring Jimand Marian Jordan
    • The Fred Allen Show, “The Chicken Surplus,” starring Fred Allen, with special guest Orson Welles
    • The Great Gildersleeve, “Gildersleeve vs. Golf,” starring Willard Waterman
    • The Life of Riley, “Staying Out Late,” starring William Bendix
    • Life with Luigi, “The Traffic Light,” starring J. Carrol Naish
    • The Lum & Abner Show, “Baby Cedric the Mind Reader,” starring Chester Lauck and Norris Goff
    • My Favorite Husband, “Trying to Cash the Prize Check,” starring Lucille Ball and Richard Denning
    • Our Miss Brooks, “Trying to Sell a Trailer,” starring Eve Arden

    ©2014 Hollywood 360 Radio (P)2014 Blackstone Audio

  • gilwilson 10:00 PM on July 3, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , comedy, hate, , I hate everyone, joan rivers, non-pc, ,   

    “I Hate Everyone…Starting with Me” by Joan Rivers 

    “I Hate Everyone…Starting with Me”
    Written and Read by Joan Rivers
    Published by Penguin Audio
    4 hours 53 minutes
    Strap in folks, when you give this book a listen, you are going for a hilarious thrill ride down Joan Rivers’ completely non-PC hate list. There were several occasions during the listening of this audiobook where I was cringing from the non-politically correct statements, but also laughing out loud, especially when Joan was putting down the Kardashians, but that’s just me. There are very few comedians left that aren’t afraid to be politically incorrect. Joan’s humor used to be mainly self-deprecating but as she’s perfected her craft she’s pushed the “hate” outwards to other people.

    In Joan Rivers’ new book, “I Hate Everyone…Starting with Me,” she does hate everyone. This book is a good form a therapy, maybe not so much for Joan but for the listener. You can listen to this audiobook and let her do the complaining for you. No one is safe, from celebrities to the folks working fast food, Joan hates them all and gives some very good reasons.

    I especially liked the focus on celebrities, because, come on, admit it, some of these celebrities just don’t know how to handle fame and we get to watch the meltdown. Joan isn’t saying anything that most of us aren’t already thinking. There are many things in the book I won’t give away but I do have a few of my favorites to pass on to you. She hates actors who lie about their ages, take themselves too seriously, or jump on the Hollywood fad bandwagon (Kabalah, clubs, et. al). She says, “Theater actor’ is an old English word that means ‘cater waiter.'”

    No one is safe, vegans (“God gave you incisors, so what’s the problem?”), Anne Frank (“She only had one book to write, and she didn’t even finish that.”), senior citizens, gays (but she loves her gays), Whitney Houston, Britney Spears, awards shows and more. In fact I don’t think there’s anything she doesn’t hate. After nearly five hours of listening time she ran the gamut of things to hate. I will admit that there were times where it would get a bit worn out, but just when I would start to groan or give up she’d be on another rant and cracking me up. So, definitely worth the listen, just don’t do it at work, she can get a racy with the language, and the “f-bomb” is dropped quite often in this book, as well as a few other harsh words.

    All in all, I think this book convinced me that Joan Rivers is not the has-been I thought she was, she still has it and isn’t afraid to spew it.

  • gilwilson 10:21 PM on March 6, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , bbc comedy, comedy, fawlty towers, , , monty python,   

    BBC Comedy Greats: Monty Python’s Flying Circus & Fawlty Towers 

    BBC Comedy Greats: Monty Python’s Flying Circus & Fawlty Towers
    Multi-cast Performance
    Published by AudioGo, Inc. (2012)
    3 Hours

    When I had the chance to listen to this audiobook, I jumped at it. I’ve always been a huge Monty Python fan, my brother can recite “The Holy Grail” word for word, thanks to me forcing him to watch it over and over. The kings of skit comedy and cross dressing were my favorites growing up, besides, once in a while on PBS (where I got my dose of Python in the 70s) they would have painted nudes in their cartoon art skits. Hey, I was in my early teens, and pre-teens, so I had to improvise.

    All that aside, the skit comedy from Monty Python’s Flying Circus was groundbreaking and led to many knockoffs from Saturday Night Live to The Kids in the Hall. The Python’s will always be king in my book. This collection from AudioGo is a nice grouping of an old LP that was originally released in 1970. (It even includes the “end of side one” commentary and references to people being on side one when on what would be side two.) The second part of this is that it also includes 4 episodes of “Fawlty Towers.” The John Cleese series that carried on a lot of the same comedy on BBC.

    I have to stop right here and shamefaced admit that I never watched “Fawlty Towers.” I’m not sure why, maybe because only one Python alum was in it and I never thought it would be good. I don’t know but after listening to this collection I find I was hugely mistaken. The episodes included here are a laugh-riot. The three hours I spent listening went by so fast that I have started it over. Is it wrong for my son and I to be singing “the Lumberjack Song,” while driving down the interstate?

    What makes these perfect is that they are made for or fine tuned to be the perfect group of audio comedy. The Monty Python section of this 3 disc set is disc one and is one hour of some classic Python skits, such as; “The Lumberjack Song,” “The Dead Parrot Sketch,” “The Visitors,” “Nudge Nudge, Wink Wink,” “The Mattress Sketch,” and much more.

    The four episodes of “Fawlty Towers” have been fine tuned to make them audiobook perfect by adding in commentary from John Cleese about how each episode came to be and where narration is needed , it is done by Andrew Sachs as the character of Manuel. The episodes in this collection include: “Mrs. Richards,” “The Rat,” and “The Hotel Inspectors.”

    So pick up this audio collection and get ready to laugh until your spleen bursts.

    • katkasia 10:28 PM on March 6, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      Sounds great! We’ve painstaking transferred some of the old tapes and LPs of Python on to more modern forms of audio, but it sounds like this collection is the best bits.
      It is absolutely not wrong at all for you and your son to be singing ‘The Lumberjack song’! Be proud Pythons. 🙂


    • Laurie C 3:57 AM on March 7, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      Monty Python relied a lot on physical humor too, I thought, so it’s good to know some of the skits translated so well into audio. I will have to look for this! I never got into Fawlty Towers, either, although I watched MP every week back in high school and saw all the movies. My kids also heard the Lumberjack Song growing up — from my husband, not me! — and I wondered about the appropriateness, too. 😉


  • gilwilson 10:11 PM on January 30, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: alan zweibel, , , , comedy, comedy of errors, , , Lunatics, , world peace   

    “Lunatics” by Dave Barry & Alan Zweibel 

    by Dave Barry & Alan Zweibel
    Read by the authors
    published by Penguin Audio (2012)
    Approx. 7 hours

    OH MY GAWD!! I have never laughed out loud for so long in such a long time.  This book is non-stop hilarity, in fact there was one time on my commute home from work, I had to pull the car over, and stop the audio, so I could catch my breath and clear the tears out of my eyes.  All I can say is be warned, this book is so funny it hurts.

    Dave Barry and Alan Zweibel team up to write this story and each one plays a character in the book.  I think the authors were about the only ones that could adequately have presented this book which is full of misunderstandings and misfortunes.  So, as far as the narration of the book these guys knocked it out of the ball park.  Barry and Zweibel are no strangers to comedy.  Dave Barry wrote a weekly humor column from 1983 to 2004 and a few books.  Alan Zweibel is an original Saturday Night Live writer and has won lots of Emmy Awards in television for his repertoire which includes; “It’s Garry Shandling’s Show,” “Monk,” and “Curb Your Enthusiasm.”  Putting these guys together makes for one awesome dirty bomb of comedy.

    The book focuses on a foul-mouthed jerk and forensic plumber, yeah forensic plumber, Jeffrey Peckerman and the mild-mannered pet store owner, Phillip Horkman as their lives meet and clash and then create world peace, not without a few bumps along the way.  I really am having a hard time trying to summarize this book because I don’t want to give too much away, It’s the surprises that add oomph to each comedic episode, but in order to do the book justice I will have to give you the gist of the story.  So be warned there are some spoilers but the trip along the way in the listening to this awesome audiobook is just as funny if not funnier than the final outcomes.

    The story starts out with Phillip Horkman refereeing a soccer game in which Jeffrey Peckerman’s daughter is playing.  Horkman call’s Peckerman’s daughter offsides and the foul-mouth brute, Peckerman, makes sure he let’s everyone know his daughter was not offsides.  Anyone who has attended a child’s sporting event, ever, has witnessed, at least once, one of these overzealous parents.   We now jump a few days later and Peckerman’s wife calls and tells him her Oprah book club is meeting and asks him to pick up some wine.  Peckerman sees a shop called “The Wine Store” and pulls in.

    Phillip Horkman is the proud owner of a petshop which he established with a loan from his in-laws.  They insisted he name the shop after them since they loaned him the money, so now Horkman is running a pet shop called “The Wine Store.”  Once Peckerman realizes there is no liquor in the place he begins screaming obscenities about who would ever mis-name a store.  Horkman, who is in the back room attending to a sick canary, hears the voice, and recognizes the foul-mouthed creature behind it.  He comes up front and eventually takes all the abuse he can and chases Peckerman out of the store with a baseball bat.  Peckerman picks up a cage with a rare lemur in it to protect himself and runs away (keeping the lemur).  This then starts a chain of events that lead to the New York Police department thinking Horkman and Peckerman are terrorists and are threatening to blow up the George Washington bridge with an insulin pump.  Which then leads to them hijacking a cruise liner which is loaded with nudists, and take it to Cuba, and manage to lead rebels on to overthrow the Castro regime, they then are captured by Coast Guard Salamanders, much like Navy Seals, but the Salamanders don’t exist.  On the Salamander sub, Peckerman suffers from explosive diarrhea which causes emergency evacuation.

    The two terrorists/revolutionaries sneak onto a ship headed to Somalia where they manage to stop pirates and land the ship full of bananas and stopping the police run government from keeping the food from the starving.  Then the two are whisked away to Yemen where they cause peace between the Arabs and the Jews (peace in the Middle-East) then on to China and create a system of Democracy for the Chinese and then land in the Republican National Convention (back in the U.S.) where Donald Trump offers them a million dollars a piece if they can convince the Republicans to nominate Trump as their presidential candidate.

    The fun in this whole adventure is the fact that it is non-stop and yet the two, Horkman and Peckerman never know what they have done, only that the New York Police want them for shooting a police helicopter pilot in the scrotum.  Non-stop hilarity that is brilliant in its delivery as well, in that it is told from both men’s point of view through and each one has a different opinion as to how to handle themselves.  Trust me this is one audiobook that is worth any investment it takes to get your hands on.

  • gilwilson 8:09 PM on November 16, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , blonde jokes, comedy, golf, , , jokes, old jews telling jokes, plastic surgery   

    “Old Jews Telling Jokes – The Joke-Off” Sam Hoffman and Eric Spiegelman, Editors 

    “Old Jews Telling Jokes – The Joke-Off”
    Sam Hoffman and Eric Spiegelman, Editors
    Multiple performers
    Produced by HighBridge Audio.
    TRT: 1 hour

    Looking for an hour of just pure laughs (and a few groans)?  Check this out: HighBridge Audio has compiled a bunch of jokes from Old Jews Telling Jokes (http://www.oldjewstellingjokes.com) into a one hour audio collection.  The audio is set up like a wrestling/match between the comedians with bells between rounds and an announcer introducing the contenders with some interesting nicknames all telling jokes trying to top each other or in some cases where a joke will remind another comedian of another joke and they snowball from there.

    This collection reminded me of some of my old family get-togethers where all the men were sitting around telling jokes and just having a fun time.  Each time the jokes would be funny or you would groan and all would laugh and share good times.  That’s pretty much how this comes off, just a bunch of old men having fun telling jokes.  I will warn you some of the material is explicit but not enough to make you stop listening, just be careful as to who else may be listening in, it may not be appropriate for a younger audience, although some of these jokes were ones we told on the 5th grade playground and we would giggle madly then but may groan now in our older wiser years.

    The collection also includes jokes that have been phoned in from various sources that seem to be fans of the website oldjewstellingjokes.com.  A couple of these left me wondering where the punchline was, but they were fun nonetheless.

    The topics of the jokes range from the old traveling salesmen jokes, plastic surgery jokes, marriage jokes, blonde jokes and lots of golf jokes.  The whole audio collection kicks off with each comedian telling the first joke they can remember and from there the “Joke-Off” is off and running.  This collection could be fun in one straight sitting or spread out when you need a quick chuckle.  Definitely one to have around just for the fun of it.

  • gilwilson 11:36 PM on July 28, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , comedy, , , , oscar wilde, the importance of being earnest,   

    “The Importance of Being Earnest” by Oscar Wilde 

    “The Importance of Being Earnest”
    by Oscar Wilde
    Multicast performance Featuring: James Marsters, Charles Busch, Emily Bergl, Neil Dickson, Jill Gascoine, Christopher Neame, & Matthew Wolf.
    Produced by L.A. Theatre Works (2009)
    Approx 2 hours

    There were three main reasons I was drawn to this audio book / audio drama.  The first was that the actor playing Jack/Earnest was James Marsters.  I have really enjoyed Marsters delivery on audio books before and have come to love his acting.  Second I have studied theater and one of my favorite plays is this one, I love the twists on words.  And finally, it was a L.A. Theatre Works production.  I recently listened to their production of “A Raisin in the Sun” and was impressed by how great their stage productions translated to audio book format without losing anything.

    L.A. Theater Works has a large catalog of plays that have been produced into audio book form and I know I’ll be going back for more, I was attracted to this because of James Marsters, but the other actors were hilarious and perfect to the roles.  The casting and direction of these plays is perfect as comes out in these releases.  The minor sound effects are heard and it sounds as if you are in the front row of the performance.  The audience response is even heard making this even more of a sitting-in-the-audience experience.

    The reason I like this play is the use of language.  The plays on words are fun and at times have a bit of a message for the audience.  Deep down the play demonstrates that over all we must all be honest.  Wilde pushes this idea through the English parlour type of a play where people aren’t who they seem to be.

    Jack tells his household that he is off to visit Earnest, his brother who is ill.  Earnest doesn’t exist but it gives Jack the excuse to leave home and get out of social events.  When Jack is off visiting Algie he goes by the name Earnest.  Jack confesses his alter ego to Algie and gives Algie an idea on how he can do the same.  Jack then meets Algie’s cousin Gwendolyn and falls in love, but she couldn’t love anyone other than someone named Earnest.  Jack goes back home and is determined to become christened to be Earnest, but first he tells everyone his brother has died.

    The death of Earnest is a big surprise, because Algie goes to visit Jack under the guise of Jack’s brother Earnest.  Algie falls in love with Jack’s ward, Cecily, but Cecily would only marry someone named Earnest, Algie now makes arrangements to be christened.

    In the big scene real names are revealed including the surprise that Jack is not who he thinks he is.  All in all the mixed identities are fun but the real fun is the use of language.  With this play Wilde paved the way for future comedies in this genre including Monty Python’s Flying Circus.  Great way to have fun for a couple of hours, just pick up this audio book from L.A. Theatre Works.

  • gilwilson 4:35 AM on July 10, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , comedy, , , , steve hockensmith,   

    “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dawn of the Dreadfuls” by Steve Hockensmith 

    “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dawn of the Dreadfuls”
    by Steve Hockensmith
    read by Katherine Kellgren
    produced by Brilliance Audio
    approx 9 hours

    So you’ve read “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith, what next?   I highly suggest following up with this novel, the prequel.  The zombie smashing mashup that mixed the undead with Victorian primness was hilarious and yet a bit educational.  Sure you were reading about zombies, but by golly, Jane Austen’s classic was still in there so you got some culture.  This time around, though, there is no classic literature involved.   I will give you a heads up in that this book still captures some of that same mood and writing involved in Jane Austen’s style.  This time around there is a lot more humor.  I know, humor and zombies, what is he talking about?  Trust me, there are many laugh out loud moments.

    Let me first give the proper praises to the reader, Katherine Kellgren.   She read/performed this book with the same Victorian delivery, trying to keep the culture in the story telling, but when it came to zombie howls and moans and the Bennet sisters’ battle cry, she delivered with uncanny realism.  So while listening you feel high-brow until the carnage begins and the battles roar.

    Basically in the first book we learned that England has been over run by zombies, or rather the “unmentionables,” because no proper English person would ever speak the “Z” word.  The Bennett sisters have been trained, like their father, in the “Deadly Arts.”  They were trained int the fashion of Shaolin monks, with skills in the martial arts, katanas, nun-chuks, and throwing stars, in order to defeat the undead scourge sweeping the country.   In this prequel we learn not only the hows but the whys of their training and of their prejudices in finding suitable men to marry.

    As the book opens the Bennett family is attending the funeral of a friend.  All is quiet and solemn until the deceased rises from his coffin and begins to moan.  Mr. Bennett, having fought the undead in the previous war, knows what is happening and more importantly knows what must be done.  Ushering everyone, except his two oldest daughters out of the church, Mr. Bennett then begins the process of separating the unmentionable from his head.  However he has his daughters do the dirty work so they can begin to be trained in what must be done because the zombies have returned.

    Returning home from the funeral and beheading of the zombie, Mr. Bennett reclaims his Dojo (Mrs. Bennett has turned it into a gardening shed, hanging tools from the various swords and arsenal), and begins the Bennett girls’ training in the Deadly Arts.  At this time he also alerts the nearest officials that the zombies are back, and sends word back to his master that he needs someone to train his daughters.

    This book is full of fun and zombie smashing once the troops arrive.  The troops are all very young boys led by a recently promoted captain who has no arms or legs.  To make up for the lack of appendages he is wheeled around by some soldiers referred to as “Limbs.”  When he needs to shake someone’s hand he orders, “Right Limb, shake that man’s hand.”  This creates many comical moments.  It also seems that the Captain and Mrs. Bennett have a history that works in some more fun.  The troops are accompanied by a mad scientist.  This mad scientist is out to catch a zombie and try to turn him  back into a proper Englishman.

    The Bennett sisters begin their training once the Master arrives from the Far East, and during their training sessions there is more hilarity, especially having to deal with the different personalities of the sisters.

    The book leads up to Elizabeth Bennett’s coming out ball and a zombie invasion in which they all seem to be doomed.   But knowing that this is a PREQUEL, you know the important characters survive, but you will be on the edge of your seat while listening to this supremely funny horror classic.  I would have to say that this book is more fun than the first book but keep in mind the first one was a mashup in which Jane Austen’s writing was the basis.

  • gilwilson 8:23 PM on April 3, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , , comedy, , odd couple, red dwarf, , ,   

    “Red Dwarf: Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers” By Grant Naylor 

    “Red Dwarf: Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers”
    By Grant Naylor
    Multicast Performance
    BBC radio broadcast of Abridged audiobook
    Approx 3 hours.

    Recently I watched the entire 8 seasons of the British space comedy TV series, Red Dwarf.  I didn’t watch the series much when it actually aired (on PBS here in the states), but I did catch a few episodes and thought them to be funny…very funny actually, with that great sarcasm and dry wit that the Brits do best.  After watching all 8 seasons, I kept asking, “Is that all?” It couldn’t be there was too much more fun to be had.  The actors were brilliant in their roles as a diverse set of characters pretty much marooned in space, at least until season 7, then things got weird (weirder?).   Anyway as I found out that wasn’t all.  There are books out there, my fave, cool, let me at ’em.  I found that the first book had been broadcast on BBC Radio with the original cast and that’s the one I had to get.   After all Douglas Adams made some great strides in the retelling of his “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” on BBC Radio, so this had to be great.  Yes it was and more so.

    Here’s the premise of the series “Red Dwarf;” Dave Lister is one of the lowliest crew members on the interstellar mining ship Red Dwarf.  He’s the guy that cleans the gunk out of the chicken soup vending machines.   Arnold Rimmer is is boss of sorts.  Dave is a laid back curry eating, beer drinking, cigarette smoking  slob who just wants to go back to Earth.  Arnold Rimmer is the overachiever that never can pass his officer’s exam.  They are bunkmates on the Red Dwarf.  On the last day of their lives, okay last day of Rimmer’s life, Dave is placed in time stasis as punishment for bringing an unquarantined animal (a cat by the name of Frankenstein) on board.  Time stasis is a pretty cool punishment, if you ask me.  The punished is locked in and for the time of sentence (3 years in Lister’s case) time goes by for everyone else and not you, okay you lose 3 years of pay in this case, but to the punished it only takes a moment.

    Alright, so Lister is locked into stasis.  The Red Dwarf then has a core meltdown creating hydrogen bomb effect on board, thus all lifeforms destroyed but electronics and the ship are fine.  So Lister is release out of stasis 3 million years later after all harm of radiation has passed and he finds himself not only alone on the ship but alone in the universe, yes the human race is extinct.  So the ships computer, Hollie, revives Lister’s bunkmate, Rimmer, as a hologram.  The technology is so energy consumptive that the ship’s resource can only support one hologram.  The problem is what Hollie thinks may save Lister’s sanity, actually may cause him to go insane, picture “The Odd Couple” in space and you have the comedy makings of this fiasco.

    It is soon discovered that during the 3 million years that infamous cat of Lister’s was safe behind cargo bay doors and reproduced over the timespan and eventually the cats evolved over 3 million years into Felis Sapiens.  Humanoids but still cats at heart, any cat lover would love this character.  Later in this book after discovering a crash landed Earth space craft the crew is rounded out with Kryten, a mechanoid, a robot designed to serve.

    This audiobook is basically a retelling of the first season of the series and a portion of season two.  The additional material is what makes this a big bonus.  Not only do you get the retelling but also some back story, like how Lister got to be on the Red Dwarf, more information on the evolution of Cat, and some extra fun information.

    If you are a fan of Red Dwarf, you’ll love this audio book, If you have never watched a single episode, check out this audio book and then get ready for the urge to watch the series.

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