Following the release of his debut book, Gone Fishing and Taskmaster star Bob Mortimer hosted an evening full of laughs. Selling out his event and the world famous Cheltenham Literature Festival, Bob hosted an hour talk “Promoting” his new autobiography And Away. Talks at the literature festival generally have a more formal feel, however Bob took a more casual approach. It felt like observing two best mates having a catch up down the pub and cracking as many jokes on the way as possible.
Joined by close friend Charlie Higson, the pair dove into details of Mortimer’s childhood in Middlesbrough exploring the loss of his dad and life as a solicitor. Every story told by Mortimer and Higson oozed with a deep sense of reflection and grattitude. With Mortimer’s rise to fame and dramatic career change falling down to a chance encounter with Vic Reeves this was massively felt that although such a change, it was one that really brought him out.
Six years on from the diagnosis of his heart condition, Mortimer was clearly passionate about having what most would deem a second chance at life and takes none of it for granted. Bob was keen to push the importance of cardio health and stress tests; a scary thought that somehow felt less daunting in his presence.
There was a definite instinct to crack jokes and divert the attention away from himself despite the event being dedicated to promotion of his wonderful autobiography. While Charlie and Bob often diverted away from explicitly talking about the book, you still got a true sense of what went into it. Described as an instinct finding something funny to say, lockdown stories and of course a Would I Lie To You influence.
Eventually beginning formalities of an event at the Cheltenham Literature Festival, Charlie introduced the event sponsors, Williams LLP Solicitors, leading to Bob asking those representing the company if they enjoyed the job. Leading to an eruption of laughter from the crowd Bob declared how he didn’t enjoy it and how you have to be good at it.
Although the stories being told on stage stemmed from those written about in the book, it was an absolute pleasure to see the excitement at particular moments of his reflection. Often jumping out of his seat, it’s hard to put into words the excitement you could feel from the pair on stage.
Bringing up how he doesn’t really like talking about himself, Mortimer turned to asking host and friend Charlie questions to divert the attention. Reaching for a small notebook filled with jokes and talking points, it was charming to see Mortimer push the attention away from himself in such an amusing way.
“going and saying hello to someone felt impossible, but being on stage took that away with less one on one interaction.”
This lead onto talking about his career in TV “curing” his shyness. Posing a question of creating a show or TV personality, the pair discussed the freedom and escape of being able to hold that front. As well as discussing the shyness, Mortimer explained how one-to-one interaction such as going and saying hello to someone felt impossible, but being on stage took that away with less one on one interaction. With this Mortimer expressed the importance of moments where you take a chance. Not knowing where it may lead, but how the end result can be life changing.
There was no shortage on tales of mischief from Mortimer. With one in particular getting a large laugh from the audience. Telling the story of a stressful night-shoot involving local legend Simon Pegg, Mortimer went on to describe how he was thrown off set for shouting “Suck us off” on every take of Pegg climbing down a wall with sucker cups on.
The evening with Bob and Charlie was a great event. Typically of Cheltenham Literature Festivals, the hour fully absorbed you with it being over before you realise. The talks leave you longing for just a few more moments to enjoy authors talking and engaging with their audience, leaving a perfect gap for you to engage in their latest works, and Mortimer’s autobiography was no exception.
Overall the event was brilliant. Boasting an equal amount of laughs and moments that had you wanting to take moments to pause and reflect while seeing Mortimer put himself in such a vulnerable position. Aside one brief mention of Coronavirus it was a great escape from the last few years of a lack of events and full scale events.
You can purchase Bob’s book, And Away! here.