Title: You’ve Got To Laugh
Author: Alison Hammond
You’ve Got To Laugh is the debut autobiography by TV personality and National Treasure Alison Hammond, who is from just down the road from me in Birmingham.
Alison is probably most famous for being on the UK TV show This Morning where she regularly interviews celebrities about their latest movies, with probably the most famous interviews being her one with Harrison Ford and Ryan Gosling for the second Blade Runner movie (where she managed to get a laugh from Harrison Ford who is notoriously difficult in interviews) as well as her interviews with the Rock in 2017 which follow their own mini soap-opera as the two get engaged, married and divorced. Pretty much whenever I’m feeling a bit down in the dumps I always watch Alison’s clips on YouTube as one of the ways to brighten my day so when I realised she had an autobiography I was very interested in reading it.
Below are a couple of my favourite videos.
These interviews are fortunately explained in detail in Alison’s autobiography, along with her very long, varied and fascinating upbringing and career which began as a short stint as a Big Brother contestant in 2002 (she only lasted two weeks in the house before being evicted).
She was born in Birmingham and raised by her single mum, Maria with her half siblings. Her dad Clifford was frequently absent from her life and had five children with other women and knew Mohammed Ali (who Alison is named after with Ali). During her upbringing her Mum would have walk on parts as an extra on TV shows with Alison sometimes appearing.
Alison also spent time at the Central Youth Television and had various parts in children’s shows and also worked as a holiday rep in Tunisia and doing various odd jobs before applying to appear on Big Brother.
The book is warm, funny and heart warming as Alison takes you through so many adventures and mishaps in her life with the funniest being when she recounts many of the videos on This Morning’s YouTube channel. Alison talks about going viral with Harrison Ford’s interview and the Rock’s, as well as the hilarious time she was almost arrested at the Leaning Tower of Pisa whilst filming a competition segment for This Morning (something which I thought was a joke when watching the video but is actually for real).
Alison also talks about talking to John Travolta from a car window with a half face of makeup on, when she was about to interview him later on and pretended not to know him, as well as playing Connect 4 with Beyoncé and auditioning as a backup dancer for Britney Spears. It’s a wild ride with so many celebrities and famous people from the past two decades mentioned.
The book also does mention some of the darker sides of fame but Alison’s resilient approach to life is definitely an inspiration to anyone reading the book. She talks about the trolling she has sometimes experienced online about her weight as well as coming to realise her platform as a role model as a black woman on TV in light of the Black Lives Matter movement, as well as being a role model for her son Aiden who is the real heart of much of the book.
There is also a scary incident at the Oscars where Alison was getting a new suitcase for all the freebies she received from the events and ended up in a taxi fearing for her life when a total stranger got in with her and rode it with her back to the hotel.
It is also fascinating to read about the early days of her career on Big Brother where she didn’t necessarily do the show for the right reasons as she was in a lot of debt and Alison mentions the famous incident where she broke a garden bench and how she was instructed she would have to pay for any damage to the house, which makes you realise her tears on the show were genuine and also makes you wonder how much the producers manipulated the situation or not in order to get good TV which is interesting from a moral perspective. Indeed I have seen videos from former contestants on shows like the X Factor where this type of behaviour was done so it is interesting to see how widespread this was in the 2000’s.
One of the big lessons I think the book gives is pretty much in the title “You’ve Got To Laugh”, Alison ensures her autobiography is uplifting and inspiring and to take life by the horns so it is definitely a favourite of mine I would love to read again and again.