I, Partridge

I, Partridge.pngI recommend Alan Partridge’s autobiography I, Partridge: We Need to Talk About Alan.

Alan Gordon Partridge, Steve Coogan’s most famous character, tells the tale of his career as a sports reporter, radio DJ, and TV chat show presenter.

This isn’t simply a cash-in book designed to capitalise on the popularity of Partridge. It is clearly written with more care and merit than the slew of ghost written celeb biogra-pish. It’s an immaculately crafted comic work with an incredible laugh-per-page ratio. Good comedy is like music, and writers Rob Gibbons, Neil Gibbons, Armando Iannucci and Steve Coogan are virtuosos. Each line has a precise comedic rhythm which captures Alan’s tragically funny social ineptitude. The writers manage to give Alan a witty turn of phrase without the character seeming to have a good sense of humour, and without the character simply being a punchline vehicle. I do not know how they achieve this alchemy.

I, Partridge is a perfect send up of celebrity autobiographies, capturing their self-important tone and using it to describe the utter banalities of Alan’s life. Even the chapter titles are hilarious with ‘My Drink and Drugs Heck’ and ‘Hanging up the Headphones’ demonstrating Alan’s ridiculous attempts to be both edgy and reflective. The book is a complex beast, as it mocks the over-dramatization of celeb biographies but also employs the narrative structure of: journey up, hitting rock bottom, and finding redemption. Despite it being a complete farce, you find yourself rooting for Alan and feel a zing of triumph as he rediscovers the incredible power of chat radio.

There’s plenty for Partridge fans and Alan-virgins alike. The pretence is never broken, so Alan introduces each character in his autobiography as you would expect: with his usual innocently ignorant offensiveness. This isn’t a companion piece to the various Partridge TV, radio and online shows; it’s proof that, unlike the tactless fictional Alan, Coogan’s character can crack any medium.

I particularly recommend the audiobook of I, Partridge. Alan’s distinctive nasal voice adds yet another layer of humour as he intones each and every word with the reverence he thinks it deserves, adds the laughter he thinks his anecdotes should receive, and affects a faux modesty to relate stories of his own greatness. I must warn you, however, that if you spend too long listening to Alan, your internal monologue will become Partridge-afied.

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