Rating: 3 stars
There is more than one David Mitchell in the world. No, really. There are two that are famous, within my sphere of being entertained, anyway. There is David Mitchell, the author of Cloud Atlas, number9dream, Ghost Written, The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, The Bone Clocks, Slade House, Black Swan Green, you know who I’m talking about.
There is also David Mitchell, the repressed English comedian and actor. The one I have a bit of a comedy crush on.
Back Story is the repressed comedian’s sort of autobiography. He goes for walks in order to alleviate his bad back. While he is walking, he thinks things about his life. He has written those things down and published a book.
I liked it. I like him when he’s on the telly, so I liked finding out about how he and his comedy partner Robert Webb got their start. I was interested in the background to comedy writing and particularly how comedy writing works at the BBC. I appreciated his honesty. The passage where he gets all David Mitchell about always wanting to work at the BBC and be a comedy writer and then being expected to do other things was my favourite. I knew instantly how he felt. Why isn’t it okay to be really good at one thing, especially when that one thing suits your personality and outlook on life? Why do we also have to be extravert and enthusiastic about things we don’t care about? I’m an introvert. Can you tell?
I also loved the chapter about meeting his wife, the writer and poker player Victoria Coren, and how his love for her has revolutionised his life. I don’t know either of them beyond what they present of themselves on the telly, but when they got married I had a most unusual sense of goodwill towards them. It seemed right that they had found each other.
If you enjoy Peep Show, or Mitchell & Webb, or David Mitchell on panel shows, you’ll enjoy this book. If you have no idea who he is, most of it will be meaningless.