The Student News Site of Xaverian College


The Student News Site of Xaverian College


The Student News Site of Xaverian College


Welcome to SNO: A video introduction
March 14, 2022

A book that’s guaranteed to make you laugh out loud


I’m not a big reader, but the very few times that I do read a book that I enjoy, I genuinely can’t put it down, and that’s exactly what happened when I started reading Charlie Brooker’s third book The Hell of it All, published in 2009. I don’t recommend reading it in public though, as I laughed so much while reading it that people started to question my sanity.

Brooker has worked as a writer, journalist, cartoonist and broadcaster. He also wrote and presented the RTS-winning ‘Wipe’ series of BBC shows, as well as Channel 4’sTen O’clock Live. However, he is mostly known for writing the popular dystopian Netflix series Black Mirror.

But before the release of the first season in 2011, he was writing for The Guardian newspaper in their Screen Burn column, where he gives hilarious and satirical but honest reviews of British TV shows, and it’s his 2007-2008 articles that make up The Hell of it All.

The articles were written over 15 years ago, so that makes some of the references and shows outdated, but this is obviously not a reflection of Brooker’s talent. Brooker was poking fun at an Apprentice candidate, Jenny, who has a: “terrifying lack of emotion at the best of times… the light in her eyes goes out and it’s like being nagged by a Sat Nav”, but because she was a contestant in 2008, when I was a baby, obviously I had no idea who he was talking about, so I had to google her (his description of her personality checks out).

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That’s the thing with Brooker, he always comes out with the most ridiculous and out-of-pocket comparisons, but they’re always spot-on. In an article he wrote about his sick leave with tonsillitis, he said that when his throat looked like: “an endoscopic close-up of a diseased bowel”. Now, I have no intention of finding out what an endoscopic close-up of a diseased bowel looks like, but I certainly have an idea of what he was going for, and it’s not pretty.

His headlines are so good at catching the readers’ attention, you’re forced to read on to find out what the hell he’s talking about, since they appear to be phrases he plucked from thin air. “A nice lie down and a bleed” really caught my attention. Obviously, I couldn’t just read that headline and not want to know what he was talking about. Turns out, he was just talking about how murder has been a trope that has been so overdone in TV (“If I died at the hands of a serial killer, I’d think ‘Ooh how exciting, like something off the telly’, and have a nice lie down and a bleed”).

It’s not just his headlines that grab our attention though, he also opens pretty much every article with a personal anecdote of his that seemingly doesn’t link with either the headline or the TV show he’s reviewing. But somehow, no matter how weird and random his anecdote is, he always manages to make it fit, it’s very impressive.

Sometimes however, the anecdote is the whole article, such as Brooker’s November 24th 2008 article Hope it’s chips, it’s chips. A weird headline, accompanied by an even weirder article. It’s all about Brooker’s life as, as he puts it, a “shambles”. He talks about how he “practises incompetence at an Olympic level” since it once took him 21 days to get round to replacing the lightbulbs in his kitchen. He said he would feel his way to the fridge “like a blind man” and use its light to navigate around the kitchen.

His lack of sleep was making him delirious, as he “lies there with the old Birds Eye steak-house grill song looping” in his head (“hope it’s chips, it’s chips” which is where he got the headline from). It’s a wonder The Guardian let him publish an article which is basically a stream of consciousness about his recent few days. But that just proves how good of a writer he is. He can turn anything into a readable article that’ll make you genuinely laugh out loud.

Brooker’s ability to turn a fairly mundane topic into a funny, anecdotal and satirical opinion piece is truly a talent to be marvelled at.

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