Comic Tom Allen is quickly becoming a household name amongst comedy lovers and the world of comics, his new publication No Shame is an exact example as to why.
If you haven’t heard of Tom Allen or happened to catch one of his appearances on panel shows such as 8 out of 10 Cats Does Countdown or Mock the Week, then let me introduce you to your new favourite comic.
Tom Allen claims that he has always been forty-six years old, even when he was a child he viewed himself as an adult which I think is pretty universally said to all of us, nobody wanted to admit that they were a child when, in fact, they were just a child. This is one of many relatable, yet witty and sharp observations Allen makes in his new book, No Shame.
The beginning of the book is extremely emotive with Allen addressing the reader as if they were life-long friends thanking the reader for picking up the book. Now one might assume that this book is going to be one of cheesy, uplifting anecdotes of how one should be shameless and own their awkward situations, yet it’s so much more. Allen makes it no secret that he is LGBT+ and heavily plays on it during his stand-up, yet this book takes us through the childhood struggles of being in year 9 and realising that you’re a little different from anyone else. From repressing his homosexuality through citing piano scales as a distraction (mostly G-minor arpeggio) to the absolute wonders of the Bromley leisure centre theres countless laugh out loud moments, especially when reading it in Tom Allen’s voice and accent which compared to his parents South London accent is undeniably ‘posh’.
The magical scenes of Bromley leisure centre is one of the central moments in the book, the excitement of the swimming pool wave machine and the reckless prospect of riding the flumes which tragically caused Allen’s sexual awakening after his unfortunate encounter with his mums friend Joyce, who makes several appearances in the book. Theres no shortage of hyperbole in the book, yet when reading it the idea of hyperbole and the ‘extra sprinkling of icing sugar’ Allen adds for a little extra spice and humour fill the writing with his trademark caustic with and warmth that entertains, surprises and evokes incredible emotion in equal measure.
If you’re a fan of Allen and have already seen a few of his stand-up routines and panel show moments then you’re to sure recognise a lot of the chapter openings from his iconic and charming routines which never fail to stir laughs, but if you’re me you chortle unnecessarily loudly at the side-splitting humour. A favourite of mine is the Chapter 4 titled ‘Dressing’ opening; “When I was sixteen I dressed in Victorian clothing in a bid to distract people from the fact that I was gay. It was a flawed plan.”
There is no doubt the book is charmingly funny and remarkably moving which showcases Allen’s talent as a comic in the best light through hilarious anecdotes and uplifting inspirational phrases that convince you to have no shame and to own every situation you find yourself in and of course to just be yourself unapologetically. After reading Allen’s book I’ve a new found love and respect for him. Not as just a comedian but as writer and an individual as he presents himself as being incredibly transparent with childhood, defining moments and efforts in dismantling the negative connotations of shame and what society expects.
Tom Allen’s book No Shame is available to buy via Hodder Studio publishing. Check out one of Allen’s Live at The Apollo performance below.