The Autobiography of Robert Renwick Mortimer
My earliest memories of Mr. Bob Mortimer were he and his strange accomplice battering each other with Frying Pans on stage. The program had a funny name – the Smell of Reeves and Mortimer – and i also recall a particularly hilarious sketch about Asparagus. Then came Shooting Stars – an outright bonkers panel show which involved taking the piss out of Ulrika Johnson (Ulrika-ka-ka-ka) and various random guest stars, most of which i didn’t know because my pop-culture knowledge didn’t extend beyond Star Trek and (cancelled) Dr Who.
I watched, avidly, Randall and Hopkirk: Deceased and my brother and I came to the conclusion that Bob was an awful actor. And i mean this in the nicest way, because his lack of acting talent was hilarious, and really added to my enjoyment of the show.
Anyway, despite his definite presence in my weekly Television consumption, i hadn’t considered him very much; i wasn’t really into my television celebrities if they weren’t in Star Wars or appearing in Noels House Party. He was a name and i would listen if he talked, but i hadn’t yet found my Mortimer awakening. That came only last year, whilst watching the masterpiece Tv show, Taskmaster. All of a sudden Bob was a source of great jocularity, and i was laughing out loud after each task. The man was so ridiculously funny it was painful.
So when i spotted this book on the shelf – without any fore-knowledge of its existence – it was a must buy.
He opens the book by describing his face as a pile of wet spaghetti and i was hooked. I love that kind of weird humour and descriptive nonsence.
But this is more than just a collection of funny stories and amusing anecdotes; this is a true story of a man’s journey through life, discovering friends, miracles and comedy in the most unlikeliest of places. Given what i knew about Bob i was blown away when he tells me he was an introvert, a lawyer and friendless; hopelessly loyal to his wee maw and struggling to survive in a cutthroat industry. Then of course he meets Jim Moir (Vic Reeves) and his life spirals into comedy national treasure status.
His little stories of his childhood and teenage years are heartwarming, and we are introduced to a wide plethora of distinctive characters. Its so…relatable.
One of the comedy comments on the book cover says “its starts when he’s young and finishes when he’s old”, reflecting the usual chronology of an autobiography – but Bob Mortimer here reveals another skill – his gift of storytelling. He crafts an excellent narrative, starting in the present with his sudden heart difficulties, before flashing back and delivering his origin story. He then weaves in time-jumps with clever segues and relevant explorations of his past.
I love the man even more now that i see his pathway through life. He began with the insecurity of a man in the shadow of a genius – but over the course of life has become a true celebrity in his own right. It isn’t the smell of Vic Reeves – its the Smell of Reeves and Mortimer. They are both of equal standing and rightfully so, because they are both comic legends.
I’m inspired to seek out Bob’s other prose, because i loved this book. The first autobiography i’ve become truly invested in, come to think of it. Thanks Bob.