The ‘World Premiere’ of comedian Rob Beckett’s book, A Class Act took place last night as part of the Henley Literary Festival with the audience all getting their hands on a copy before the publishing date next Thursday.
Arriving on to the stage at the Baillie Gifford marquee at Phyllis Court Club Rob said, “Gosh that was a long walk and thanks for keeping the clapping going.” On hearing Harriet Reed-Ryan tell the audience to form an orderly queue after the talk for book signing, Rob said, “I wonder what a disorderly queue looks like in Henley!” Adding, “How mental is this, it feels like an Apprentice challenge.”
Rob has grown up from a working class background and he describes his book as “memoires about class and relationships and how it affects you.” He said, “You can’t choose your childhood and it’s not an angry book.” He told the audience that his family is now a combination of middle-class and working class. Describing the difference between him and his middle-class, wife Lou who he married in 2015, “She went to watch polo as a youngster and I saw horse being put in a van!” His two kids he says are a combination and can sometimes drop the t in water and his daughter one day forgot the teaching assistant’s name so said, “Oi love!”
Talking about his Mum and Dad who feature in the book. Rob said his Dad didn’t read a book until he was 40 and worked really hard. He did though say, “I think they got off lightly in the book, I’ll have to wait till they die to write all the other stories about them.”
Rob didn’t realise he was working class until he started doing comedy and met other comedians. He’s discovered lots of things since becoming a comedian too, he didn’t know what the Fringe was in Edinburgh and he thought Radio 4 was a new Asian channel until he was asked to go on it.
Before hitting the big time, Rob worked a 9-5 office job and then did 4 gigs a week. He said, “I used to have a sleep after work in the disabled toilet, when I came out there was a big queue outside.”
His world now is a mixture of his old lifestyle and the celebrity world. He told the audience how mad one weekend was when he went from meeting his old mates in a pub and the next night going to the private members club, Annabel’s in London with Jimmy Carr, a guy who started Uber in Russia and Kate Middleton’s brother.
Has Rob changed his accent or what he does? He replied, “I don’t want to temper what I do, I think it would drag me down from enjoying my life. I’ve worn stupid outfits and I’ve had a colonic irrigation live on TV.”
Suffering with dyslexia and ADHD, Rob found writing the book a challenge but as the book progressed he enjoyed the writing process more. He didn’t go back and tweak anything as “it would have lost all the juicy bits. It was a conscious decision not to over think it.”
What next for Rob? He replied, “I used to have a list but now I go to bed and think what I’ve enjoyed today and what thing I didn’t like. I try not to do those things again.” After nearly have a burnout before the pandemic he added, “I do jobs that I can enjoy doing now.” His high points have been selling out the Hammersmith Apollo and doing the Royal Variety Show with his good mate Romesh.
Rob has got his first acting role in the new Cinderella Musical film. He said, “I was told my character had to have a limp so I wasn’t sure how I was going to remember this so someone told me to put a stone in my shoe. However the Director then told me that I had to have a different limp each time to show that I was lying about it but then the final cut only showed my top half.”