Books & Literature

Book Review: Berserker! by Adrian Edmondson

MEMOIR: With wisdom, nostalgia and uniquely observed humour, Ade traces his journey through life and comedy: starting out on the alternative scene, getting arrested in Soho, creating his outrageously violent characters and learning more about his curious (possibly Scandinavian) heritage.

A humorous and heartfelt reflection on the personal and professional life of one of the United Kingdom’s most successful "accidental comedians."

Feature image credit: Pan Macmillan Australia

Adrian Edmondson is best known for two shows which provided him with international acclaim: The Young Ones (which, like its predecessor, Fawlty Towers, only went for 12 episodes, but surpassed it with a hit single collaboration with Cliff Richard), and Bottom (which had 18 episodes but went live and totalled 12 years of creativity). Alongside his The Young Ones co-star and Bottom co-writer and co-performer, Rik Mayall, he carved out a long-standing legacy, but there is significantly more to Ade’s (as he is also known) life story.

In Berserker!, Edmondson reflects on his life from his earliest memory, to the realisation of what he calls his “accidental comedian” moment — which would last the bulk of his professional life — to his current state of being a husband and father, pursuant of less comedic roles, and his foray into the music scene.

Edmondson was born into a temporarily transient family. His father was an educator who spent a not insignificant quantity of Ade’s life overseas, while he attended boarding school. He would go on to university intending to study drama. This is where he met his long-time creative partner, Rik Mayall, and his career path took a decided detour.

Over the following decades, Edmondson has made his mark most particularly on the British (New Wave) comedy landscape, which included three decades as a core member of The Comic Strip Presents, plus the previously mentioned shows, as a writer, performer, director and musician.

Within this book, he seeks to answer his own eternal question: am I descended from the Norwegian warriors known as Berserkers (drink and drug-fuelled maniacs who charged into battle leaving chaos in their wake). According to lineage DNA testing, it is deemed unlikely.

That said, he has most definitely left his mark on the entertainment landscape.

For anyone who has embraced any of the various strings to Edmondson’s bow, this book shows the breadth of capacity and engagement, reveals the personal challenges which have dented his enjoyment of success, and openly and honestly details a personal and professional friendship that ended in heartbreak.

Berserker! is somewhat true to its name — a wild time to be had, but there are no “substances” required.

Reviewed by Glen Christie

The views expressed in this review belong to the author and not Glam Adelaide, its affiliates, or employees.

Distributed by: Pan Macmillan Australia
Released: September 2023
RRP: $36.99

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