Hot Best Seller

Who Am I, Again?

Availability: Ready to download

In 1975, a gangly black 16-year-old from Dudley, decked out in floppy bow tie and Frank Spencer beret, appeared on our TV screens for the first time. So began the transformation from apprentice factory worker to future national treasure of Sir Lenny Henry. In his long-awaited autobiography, Lenny tells the extraordinary story of his early years and sudden rise to fame. Born In 1975, a gangly black 16-year-old from Dudley, decked out in floppy bow tie and Frank Spencer beret, appeared on our TV screens for the first time. So began the transformation from apprentice factory worker to future national treasure of Sir Lenny Henry. In his long-awaited autobiography, Lenny tells the extraordinary story of his early years and sudden rise to fame. Born soon after his Jamaican parents had arrived in the Midlands, Lenny was raised as one of seven siblings in a boisterous, hilarious, complicated working household, and sent out into the world with his mum's mantra of 'H'integration! H'integration! H'integration!' echoing in his ears. A natural ability to make people laugh came in handy. At school it helped subdue the daily racist bullying. In the park, it led to lifelong friendships and occasional snogs. Soon, it would put him on stage at working men's clubs and Black Country discotheques. And then an invitation to audition for ITVs New Faces would change his life for ever. But those first years of show business, in a 1970s Britain of questionable variety shows, endless seaside summer seasons, casual chauvinism and blatant racism, were a bewildering experience for a lone black teenager. At every stage, he wondered: 'Am I good enough? Is this what they want? Who am I, again?' Riotous, warm-hearted and revealing, and told with Lenny's trademark energy - expect recipes, comic strips, and tips for aspiring comedians - Who Am I, Again? is the heart-breakingly honest and inspirational coming-of-age story of a man who holds a very special place in British hearts.


Compare

In 1975, a gangly black 16-year-old from Dudley, decked out in floppy bow tie and Frank Spencer beret, appeared on our TV screens for the first time. So began the transformation from apprentice factory worker to future national treasure of Sir Lenny Henry. In his long-awaited autobiography, Lenny tells the extraordinary story of his early years and sudden rise to fame. Born In 1975, a gangly black 16-year-old from Dudley, decked out in floppy bow tie and Frank Spencer beret, appeared on our TV screens for the first time. So began the transformation from apprentice factory worker to future national treasure of Sir Lenny Henry. In his long-awaited autobiography, Lenny tells the extraordinary story of his early years and sudden rise to fame. Born soon after his Jamaican parents had arrived in the Midlands, Lenny was raised as one of seven siblings in a boisterous, hilarious, complicated working household, and sent out into the world with his mum's mantra of 'H'integration! H'integration! H'integration!' echoing in his ears. A natural ability to make people laugh came in handy. At school it helped subdue the daily racist bullying. In the park, it led to lifelong friendships and occasional snogs. Soon, it would put him on stage at working men's clubs and Black Country discotheques. And then an invitation to audition for ITVs New Faces would change his life for ever. But those first years of show business, in a 1970s Britain of questionable variety shows, endless seaside summer seasons, casual chauvinism and blatant racism, were a bewildering experience for a lone black teenager. At every stage, he wondered: 'Am I good enough? Is this what they want? Who am I, again?' Riotous, warm-hearted and revealing, and told with Lenny's trademark energy - expect recipes, comic strips, and tips for aspiring comedians - Who Am I, Again? is the heart-breakingly honest and inspirational coming-of-age story of a man who holds a very special place in British hearts.

30 review for Who Am I, Again?

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jo

    Henry recounts his life from birth to roughly 1980 so this memoir covers his childhood and discovery of comedy to when his star had ascended. I found this interesting, the tales of his Jamaican parents and especially his mother, and how he managed with newfound fame at the tender age of 16. I will definitely read the next stage of his life story when he writes it.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Hoimir

    Ran into his reading of excerpts on Radio 4 (https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/m00...) and went to look for the book. Hero from my teenage years. Trying to enjoy it in small doses so it lasts longer.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Julie

    I kept smiling while I read this book by Lenny Henry about his youth and entrance into the world of comedy. Growing up in a large family, he was able to escape by starting his career at the age of 16. I could picture the author the whole time I read this book, and imagine the audible version would be awesome.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Libby

    My mum had a soft spot for British comedians when I was growing up and indirectly introduced me to the likes of Dawn French, Jennifer Saunders, Ken Dodd and Lenny Henry. As a quiet child from a fairly reserved family, I must admit, Lenny's loud exuberance scared me sometimes, but I grew up thinking he was the kindest man in the world. Growing up in the 80s and 90s, Lenny was mainly known to me for his work with Comic Relief and I saw him as a charity campaigner who just happened to be funny. My My mum had a soft spot for British comedians when I was growing up and indirectly introduced me to the likes of Dawn French, Jennifer Saunders, Ken Dodd and Lenny Henry. As a quiet child from a fairly reserved family, I must admit, Lenny's loud exuberance scared me sometimes, but I grew up thinking he was the kindest man in the world. Growing up in the 80s and 90s, Lenny was mainly known to me for his work with Comic Relief and I saw him as a charity campaigner who just happened to be funny. My nan was also a big fan of his TV series, Chef, so I didn't really know much about his comedy work. The book was a pleasure to listen to (Audible!) and added to my respect for Lenny and his achievements. His positive outlook and refusal to even entertain a bitter thought for events that have occurred in his life, add to my admiration.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Paul

    Brilliant read.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Steve Mobbs

    I’ve always been a fan of Lenny Henry and this book doesn’t disappoint. I listened on audible and it was lovely to hear him narrate his own story too

  7. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    Really enjoyed this. Loved the short, easy to digest chapters and how open and honest he was about mistakes he's made.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Dr Andrew Al-Adwani

    The quality of the abridged version being read by the author on radio 4 for suggests a tentative 5-star review.

  9. 4 out of 5

    meryl gormley

    I absolutely loved this book, I think it made it more interesting for me as Lenny Henry is a midlander born and bred like myself, a very interesting read about his life and who he met along the way.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Kath

    Quite interesting, with some tips for aspiring comics, and appreciation of those who have helped him, as well as some shocking accounts of the racism he has faced. The writing style did not read very smoothly and there were repeated sections about the Minstrel Show which obviously weighs heavily on his shoulders.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Mark

    Funny autobiography of Lenny Henry’s early life up to and including Tiswas! Expect a sequel

  12. 4 out of 5

    Andrew Alvis

    A very endearing and funny look back over the people and events that shaped Lenny Henry into who he is today. From his simple beginnings I feel I understand him a tiny bit more than I did yesterday and therefore respect him even more through all the struggles he suffered be it bullying, travelling from gig to gig, luck with women and even his family. I cannot recommend this book enough, Lenny is a staple of British Comedy and a true Icon.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Olivia

    4.5 stars. What a great read by one of the icons of showbiz I grew up watching- loved it!

  14. 5 out of 5

    Alison Nickells

    Really enjoyed the Radio 4 version

  15. 5 out of 5

    Doris Raines

    LOVE THIS BOOK.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Susannah

    Nice guy, jerky (as in all over the place, not idiotic!) writing. He still sounds as if he can't quite place himself all these years later. When there were Black Country references I sat up as I cannot imagine a Jamaican family in Dudley back in the day (knowing how not open they are nowadays). LH probably totally underplays the racism he suffered growing up.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Kate Henderson

    **listened via audible** Really love that Lenny Narrates it himself. Felt so personal. Really enjoyed this. Didn’t think it had much in it. Would have like even more stories but liked it nevertheless.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Lyn Ryan

    As you would expect from a autobiography from a comedian, it's funny. I listened to the audiobook read by the author, and he does all the imitations and voices etc. The narrative concentrates on his early life, his family and his entry into the comedy scene in Britain. However, I would say he sidesteps most difficult and sensitive areas. I would have liked to understand more about why an Afro Carribean man joined the Black and White Minstrels, but didn't really feel any the wiser. I felt no As you would expect from a autobiography from a comedian, it's funny. I listened to the audiobook read by the author, and he does all the imitations and voices etc. The narrative concentrates on his early life, his family and his entry into the comedy scene in Britain. However, I would say he sidesteps most difficult and sensitive areas. I would have liked to understand more about why an Afro Carribean man joined the Black and White Minstrels, but didn't really feel any the wiser. I felt no closer to understanding the deeper issues of race and discrimination in Britain in the 60s and 70s. Lenny reveals that his mother had had an affair resulting in his birth and talks briefly about meeting his birth father, but does not really describe what effect that this had on him or his life. The comparision I would make is with Magda Szubanski's amazing autobiography Reckoning. Magda manages to be funny and brilliant and inspiring while dissecting the events of her past and coming to terms with it. She has done some deep personal work and you get the feeling she has made peace with her demons. I wonder whether Lenny has even realised there is a battle to be had. The titles really say it all: Who am I, again? suggests uncertainty and maybe even fear of finding out. Reckoning suggests avenging or settling the score. I don't know how hard you can be on a person who glides over the events of their life in their autobiography. I think of the searing honesty of someone like Jimmy Barnes who treated the writing of his autobiographies as therapy, and we all got to see the blood, sweat and tears of his amazing life. Perhaps not everyone is as brave. Perhaps not everyone needs to spill their guts publically either. The book ends with some generous guidance for aspiring comedians, which may be useful if you are one.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Xanthi

    If you can, listen to the audiobook because it is read by Lenny himself and he does a great job of it. I enjoyed the parts about his family members and his childhood but once he started talking about his early career, I found myself getting a bit lost and then distracted. I’m putting this down to not being British. I have vaguely heard of some of the shows and the comedians he mentions but quite a few of them are a mystery to me, and hence not all that interesting. I was surprised that the book If you can, listen to the audiobook because it is read by Lenny himself and he does a great job of it. I enjoyed the parts about his family members and his childhood but once he started talking about his early career, I found myself getting a bit lost and then distracted. I’m putting this down to not being British. I have vaguely heard of some of the shows and the comedians he mentions but quite a few of them are a mystery to me, and hence not all that interesting. I was surprised that the book ended so abruptly. I was expecting to learn more about his career in the 80s onwards. I’ve seen him live on stage several times in the 90s and had watched The Lenny Henry show, so was hoping he would cover that period, at least. Oh well. Hopefully there will be a follow up book at some stage.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Kelvin Green

    Lenny's writing style is humorous and infectious, but the book as whole is a bit vague and bitty. Henry admits on a number of occasions that he finds it difficult to dig deep and uncover the real truth about things, and that does lead to a superficial, flighty feel to things when he talks about his family and his past. It doesn't help that the book is short and only covers up to 1980ish. When Lenny talks about the people he's met, his influences, and the craft of comedy, the book is much Lenny's writing style is humorous and infectious, but the book as whole is a bit vague and bitty. Henry admits on a number of occasions that he finds it difficult to dig deep and uncover the real truth about things, and that does lead to a superficial, flighty feel to things when he talks about his family and his past. It doesn't help that the book is short and only covers up to 1980ish. When Lenny talks about the people he's met, his influences, and the craft of comedy, the book is much stronger, and perhaps this would have been a better overall approach, rather than a somewhat non-committal memoir.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Guy Clapperton

    A great read and listen, although I'd have liked it to focus on his mega-successful years among the alternative comics, the Dekbert Wilkins years and soforth. It's a great book, funny and sad (surely no white person of my age can listen to Henry's experiences on the Black and White Minstrels Show without wincing at the fact that this was mainstream and we didn't question it as kids) and brilliantly told. If you're looking to get into comedy then the list of tips at the end makes this book worth A great read and listen, although I'd have liked it to focus on his mega-successful years among the alternative comics, the Dekbert Wilkins years and soforth. It's a great book, funny and sad (surely no white person of my age can listen to Henry's experiences on the Black and White Minstrels Show without wincing at the fact that this was mainstream and we didn't question it as kids) and brilliantly told. If you're looking to get into comedy then the list of tips at the end makes this book worth buying in its own right. So, a terrific read - and the next one can't come fast enough.

  22. 5 out of 5

    George

    Biographies can be hit and miss and very much influenced by what you thought of the subject. I have always loved Lenny Henry and thought this would be a great insight into his early years. I didn't know much about his early life before he became famous and the book was an eye-opening telling of his family, life as a young comedian and his time moving from The Black Minstrels, kids tv shows and more mainstream adult comedies. I look forward to the next instalment.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Brenda Ray

    A joy to read. I've always admired him as a person rather than as a comic - his style's a bit too kids' stuff for me - yet he makes me laugh. His story is full of warmth and generosity and never boring. His encounters with racism make you realise it hasn't been all joy and laughter, either. His Notes to a Young Comic at the end are well worth reading, whether you're a young comic or just a (fairly)old writer, like me!

  24. 4 out of 5

    Keith Mills

    Not for me - but that is merely a prejudice against show business memoirs, and not a ctiticism of Lenny Henry. The parts of it dealing with family memories and realtionships I enjoyed; but the rest .......

  25. 4 out of 5

    Sinead

    This only covers Henry’s early life to roughly 1980, basically about growing up, his family and how he got into comedy. I listened to it on audiobook which he reads himself and he does a great job! Overall a great insight into his early life.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Dawn

    It’s Was good to read of Lenny Henry ‘s recalling his life as he make his name in the light of becoming a star.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Stephen

    interesting autobiography of the Dudley comedian Lenny Henry this book being the 1st part of his career new faces to tiswas and find quite informative

  28. 5 out of 5

    Nicki

    Really enjoyed this one full review to follow!

  29. 5 out of 5

    Adrian Peck

    Really great, looking forward to the second book

  30. 5 out of 5

    Caroline Seaward

    Saw the live show which was OK but the book was better!

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.