"Bonkers: My Life in Laughs" by Jennifer Saunders
When I was in university (all those years ago) I discovered what would become one of my all-time favourite television shows. It had everything I looked for in a show - wild characters, tons of laughs, and British accents. That show was Absolutely Fabulous. This led me to discover the fabulous French and Saunders and from there my love of British comedy television just exploded.
A few years ago I read Dawn French’s autobiography Dear Fatty so I was thrilled when I heard that Jennifer Saunders would be publishing her own as well. These are two of the funniest women I have ever seen on television so I knew that their books would be as well.
Bonkers: My Life in Laughs is the story of Jennifer’s life. From her childhood on Royal Air Force bases to worldwide fame as an incredible comedienne she covers it all. From her early school days when she met Dawn French, through her time with the Comic Strip and on to television and film success, she shares the ups and downs of being a female comic in a time when women weren’t getting attention for their comedy chops. It’s a great behind the scenes look at what it took to make some of our favourite comedies. The parts where she discusses Ab Fab were absolutely amazing for a huge fan like myself. However, if you’re a fan of some of her other work you may not find that it gets as much attention.
Jennifer Saunders is a private person and has been fortunate enough to have her life remain that way when it comes to the press, so it’s great that she has let her fans in through this book. Especially poignant is the section where she discusses her three year battle with breast cancer. She speaks of this time with warmth and humour but enough respect for the journey that people go through when experiencing it. This section was very real and very personal.
This isn’t a straight forward autobiography nor does it cover her entire life, or even certain parts of her life in depth. I like how she struck the balance between sharing what we want to know and should know. I also loved the way she would go off on tangents or the story would head off in a different direction, eventually coming back to where she started. This made the book feel like a conversation with Jennifer rather than reading what she put on paper.
Just like she is on television, Jennifer Saunders is laugh out loud funny in this book. If you’ve ever enjoyed anything she has ever done, then you’ll enjoy reading this book. And if you’re not familiar with her work I highly recommend you go check her out - right now would be best. I recommend starting with Absolutely Fabulous sweetie darling.