Before & Laughter

Insightful, inspiring, and so, so funny. My non-fiction book of the year.

Book title

Before & Laughter


Jimmy Carr

Standalone or series

Standalone (non-fiction)

First time reading this author?


Why I picked this

I wasn’t entirely sure what it was about and assumed it was simply an autobiography, and I enjoy autobiographies of comedians.

Review copy or purchase

Purchase – audiobook and ebook, and I’m planning to buy physical copies for a few Christmas presents.

What it’s about

Comedian and TV presenter Jimmy Carr shares a but about his life and the lessons he has learned from a career in stand-up comedy which he thinks we could all be a bit happier by learning too.


Part memoir, part guide to reaching your goals, living for your future and appreciating the lessons of stand-up comedy. This is one of the best books I’ve read this year, and definitely the best audiobook.

I had bought both the audiobook and ebook versions of this book thinking I’d switch between the two. But, actually I loved listening to Jimmy so much that I listened to the whole thing. As a professional performer Jimmy is not simply reading the book, it’s like going to a training session where he’s the main speaker.

I was very careful in that last sentence not to describe Jimmy as a natural performer. The message that comes over loud and clear in this book is that he has put the work in to build his skills. That luck and natural ability are just code words for learning, trying and practising. And, that by identifying what you want to do with your life and putting the work in too, you can do whatever that is.

I expected the book to be funny, I expected it to sometimes be a bit shocking – in that way that Jimmy’s stand-up likes to play with expectations, assumptions and boundaries. What I didn’t expect was how much of the book would hit emotionally – thanks Jimmy for making me cry while walking the dog as you talked about the importance of being with someone you love when they die.

I will be heartily recommending this book to everyone I know. It’s for anyone who believes in the power to take control of your own destiny. It’s for anyone who is fooling themselves that opportunity will knock one day and they don’t have to contribute to building the door for it to knock on. And, it’s especially for anyone who feels stuck in a job, not sure why they’re there or how to get out.

Honestly, I can’t recommend this book enough.


Rating: 5 out of 5.
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