There are a lot of British comedians who I would love to see live. One of them is Tom Allen. I think he’s amazingly funny and I enjoy seeing him appear on various TV shows. It also makes me feel slightly better about living at home that he’s only just moved into his own house! When this came up on Audible, I knew that I had to get it. Then I stumbled across a hardback copy in a charity shop and it seemed like something or someone was telling me to read it. I was meant to be reviewing my current read today but, thanks to my inability to read much, I knew I wasn’t going to manage it. I decided it was a good time to listen to the audiobook while I was working.
One of my favourite things about comedian Tom Allen is that he is unashamedly himself. He understands who he is and uses that to his advantage. As we learn in his autobiography, that wasn’t always the case. We start off hearing about Allen’s early years as he grew up in a very different way from his peers. Instead of being interested in the usual kids’ stuff, Tom was more interested in musical theatre and chatting to his classmates’ mums. As he got older, he began to understand that he was different and, though he wouldn’t admit it for a while, started to accept that he was gay. No Shame is a funny, heartfelt and relatable portrait of not only growing up gay in the 90s but of being an outsider.
Long-time fans of Allen may have heard some of these stories before but that doesn’t make them any less entertaining. Young Tom sounds like such a fantastic character and I thoroughly enjoy hearing about his escapades. All of the anecdotes that he has focused on in the book are incredibly funny and are further brought to life on the audiobook. He is such an animated storyteller and he really brings a great energy to the book. His narration is completely engaging and I loved listening to the audiobook.
It is also a book that so many people will be able to connect with, whether they are from the LGBTQ community or not. Allen’s stories all revolve around that feeling of not fitting in and just trying to blend in. I certainly feel a connection to him because so many of his anxieties have been/are my own anxieties. The idea of playing a part to fit in with everyone else but never quite managing to get it right. He might as well have been describing me for the past 30 odd years. I can certainly imagine that this would be a helpful read to a young queer reader who is struggling with their identity.
On top of this, the book is funny and entertaining. I always worry about autobiographies by famous faces. You worry that they’ll spend too much time trying to be humble or to make a lot of their terrible upbringing. Allen is the kind of comedian who enjoys making fun of his former self whilst also accepting that it helped get him to where he is now. There is a lot of sincerity and understanding within the stories. He is a very honest writer without being too emotional. This isn’t soppy in a lovey kind of way but it reveals a lot about him as a person. It’s a fantastic book and all the better experienced through the audiobook.