Billy Connolly''s Route 66 Documentary last week was so funny, it reminded of a book I'm reading at the moment that was especially created to make the world laugh. That book is the Dorking Review and it is so engrossing it made me forget about a hurricane and a power cut all at the same time.
The only time I put this book down was while I went on a hunt for a candle so I could keep reading when the lights went out. The stories were so mad and so surreal they kept me turning the pages as the remnants of Hurricane Katia were trying to blow the top of my roof off. But I didn't care because I was laughing too much to notice. And I was laughing out loud, just like I do when I'm watching Billy Connolly or Spike Milligan or The Pythons. So who are the writers of this book that is capable of making you laugh in the way that previously only the Comedy Gods could.
Well, The Dorking Review was written by a collection of writers who usually choose to reside behind the shadows of the satirical news headline . They write for various comedy news websites under assumed names like Pinxit, Skoob 1999, Iain B, Churchmouse, Erskin Quint and Colonel Juan. They are the Ninjas of comedy satire and they regularly attract tens of thousands of readers to their individual news articles a week. But quite strangely, until now, they had never written a book.
But last January, during the worst winter our country had seen for thirties years, they all got together at a pub called the Spoof Bar and Grill and decided that they would do just that They would write a book that was so funny, it would make people forget about the sub zero temperatures and be happy. It was decreed that this book should be called The Dorking Review, and so a legend in the world of comedy news was born. Its a book about adventure in a small town and even though Billy did travel about a bit, the characters and stories he brought back from his trip could have come straight out of the Dorking Review.
If Billy had submitted a story called "Stolen Piece of Edinburgh Castle Found at Base of American Building" to the Dorking Review Editor Gary Moore, I'm sure it would've made the final edit . I also think a headline like "Bearded 60s Folk Singer Gets High on a Glass Platform at Top of Worlds Tallest Building" would have fitted in quite nicely, too.
These adventures of Billy's would not have been out of place amongst the News Stories and reviews I had read just three days before. These stories included characters that were endearingly strange like
Ian B, who did a splendid job of reviewing a bag of King Edward Potatoes, and Madame Bitters who answers the mad problems of the villagers in her Problem Page. But possibly the strangest of all was the man who entered himself into crufts as an Irish Wolfhound. Sadly, this man later died when he chose to become the Birdman of Dorking and jumped off a cliff in the hopeful belief that he might be able to fly.
Sadly, however this was not the only catastrophe that happened in Dorking. For this isn't just a village of gentle madness, tragedy strikes Dorking, too. An old lady's chair lift exploded and she ended up in space. Mary Poppins visited Dorking and she got arrested. And then of course there was the sad tale of the man who tried to jump off a bridge and turned into a human Yo Yo.
But the fun doesn't stop there, just like Billy, sometimes the people of Dorking go travelling. One man took his snake for a walk and caused a 24 mile long traffic jam. Another one went to Liverpool, and two intrepid travellers, called Erskin and Victor went in search of the source of the Bumbogoola river.
And its not just news and travel that happens in Dorking, they do interviews...with Thespians and Dracula and The Aurora Borealis. And as if that isn't enough, you can read news of what the villagers do in their spare time in the Crumpton Village News Letter. They do Cat Swinging for Beginners, Hedgehog Licking and Farmhouse Bomb Making. It almost makes you want to go live there.
As I continued to watch the Billy Connolly show, I came to the realisation that another reason his road trip reminded me so much of this book was because of the feeling of warmth and happiness and safety I got from them. A warmth that makes you feel safe in a storm. Its a gift to be able to write comedy the way these people do, and I definitely appreciated both of these excellent gifts of comedy last week when I thought my roof was going to fly away.
And I think that's what good comedy does. It doesn't shock or scare, it just makes you forget you're reading a book or watching a television programme for a while. It transports you to places that you'd really quite like to visit. So because of Billy I'd quite like to visit America now, and because of the Dorking Review I'd quite like to visit Dorking.
So if you liked the sound of all that, you might want to pick up a copy of the Dorking Review. Its available on Amazon and from The Barnes and Noble Book Shop. I'm also reliably told you can pick it up from WH Smith, too. Its the one with the fancy dinosaur on the cover... the one in the pretty pink pants....sitting on the loo. You can't miss him.
This book is 300 pages of absolute brilliance, but Its also as daft as a brush. So, I feel it is only right that I leave you with a warning about this here Dorking Review: Do not read it on the bus, because it will make you embarrass yourself by laughing out loud.
Oh and Billy Connelly's show is on for another couple of weeks. Its well worth a watch, too.
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