Naoise Dolan on memoirs by Billy Connolly, Jimmy Carr and Katherine Ryan

In addition to their Irish heritage, these comedians share an explicit flowing influence

Billy Connolly. Photograph: Dave Hogan/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Billy Connolly. Photograph: Dave Hogan/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

How does a celebrity autobiography satisfy everyone, from the reader seeking tips on success to the frazzled holidaymaker rushing through an airport? Three famous comedians give it their best shot 

A famous autobiographer must address a broad church. Some readers turn to these books as blueprints for success. Others want a whiff of scandal. Some poor sap went into the airport newsagent for a bottle of water and walked out with a signed hardback because they’d been up since stupid o’clock. The writer must address them all. You’d almost pity them, until you remember that a large audience brings mouth-watering sales.

Three comedians have recently given the medium their best shot: Billy Connolly, Windswept and Interesting (Hodder & Stoughton, £25); Jimmy Carr, Before & Laughter: A Life-Changing Book (Quercus Publishing£25) and Katherine Ryan, The Audacity (Bonnier Books Ltd, £20). All three have Irish heritage but were born abroad, and each belongs to a different comic generation: Connolly was born in 1942, Carr 30 years later and Ryan in 1983, so she just about falls under “millennial”. Whether a generational bracket containing both Prince William and Timothée Chalamet can meaningfully describe anyone is another question – but certainly Ryan is the most concerned with the opinions of that mysterious animal, the youth.

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