Beyond a Joke


Bruce Dessau

Publication Year




Random House UK

Beyond a Joke: Inside the Dark Minds of Stand-Up Comedians Paperback – September 3, 2012

by Bruce Dessau (Author)

It is not a normal person who wants to go onstage and make thousands of strangers laugh every night—this celebration of comedy by a veteran comedy critic is also a story of lives lived to excess

A look at one of the modern world’s most dominant and compelling art forms, this book would not be complete without covering comedy’s dark side. Homing in on the scandals that have surrounded some of light entertainment’s biggest stars, the book tells it as it is, featuring quotes from those that were there at the time. It reveals how the devoted laughter of fans never seemed to be enough for these moody, prickly, ego-driven entertainers, how they would constantly seek more thrills when the curtain came down, how offstage antics of certain comedians would make even rock stars blush, and the number of comedians who have had to deal with paternity suits would make a book in itself. This book addresses the question Are comedians naturally dysfunctional, or does the stress and pressure of the job make them dysfunctional? It takes a particularly odd person to want to pursue comedy as a career, and, as this book reveals, the behavior of comedians once they are successful in their chosen career makes them even odder. From Russell Brand slashing his chest onstage to Jo Brand trashing a friend’s car on the motorway, Bruce Dessau has heard it all.

Editorial Reviews


“Entertaining insight and audacity—Dessau has been reviewing comedy for more than 30 years, and knows his stuff. . . . A fascinating look at the dark side of stand-up.”  —Time Out

“An intriguing history of humour’s bad boys claims that almost every great comedian is a damaged soul. . . . Delightful nuggets for the new wave of comedy enthusiasts.”  —Sunday Times

About the Author

Bruce Dessau is a respected comedy journalists who contributes to many publications including the Guardian, the Evening Standard, and Time Out. He is the author of Rowan Atkinson, has chaired the Edinburgh Comedy Awards panel twice, and has regularly served on the judging committee.

Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Random House UK; Reprint edition (October 9, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099558270
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099558279
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.8 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.1 ounces

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