‘a one-off from the word go, and no history of English humour could overlook him.’ Tom Stoppard
N.F. Simpson (1919-2011) was a leading exponent of the Theatre of the Absurd, with the Royal Court classics A Resounding Tinkle (1957) and One Way Pendulum (1959) sealing his reputation as a comic master with a subtle philosophical undertow.
Emerging during a revolutionary period in British theatre, Simpson rose to prominence alongside Harold Pinter, John Osborne and Arnold Wesker. His work has been embraced and performed by comedy legends including Spike Milligan, Eric Sykes, Beryl Reid and Dick Emery. His influence spread widely, from Peter Cook’s much loved character E.L. Wisty to Monty Python’s Flying Circus, and helped spawn a generation of outstanding comic talent.
This authorised collection presents the best of Simpson’s short works for audiences new and old. Featuring more than sixty pieces from across six decades, the full spectrum of an extraordinary career is brought together in one volume for the first time: monologues, sketches, criticism and poetry, written for radio, television, stage and print. It includes all of Simpson’s anarchic collaborations with Willie Rushton for Private Eye, a generous selection of previously unseen pieces from his final manuscript, as well as a critical introduction by Simpson collaborator Simon Usher.
‘A wonderfully funny collection of the sort of short pieces that can only really find a suitable home in…well…a wonderfully funny collection of short pieces. Comic genius.’ David Nobbs
'This is a treasure trove of the work of a fine, original, comic mind.’ Sheila Hancock
‘A marvellous collection, showcasing the best of Simpson’s benignly radical, gently subversive genius. The truly remarkable thing is that his characters’ bizarre flights of lunacy seem saner and more rational with every passing year.’ Jonathan Coe
‘Reading N. F. Simpson for the first time all those years ago was a revelation, a Taj Mahal to the head. He laid the foundation for most of what I truly love about comedy; he was the fifth Goon, the seventh Python, the Wally in Pete’n’Dud’n’Wally, the third Booshista, the Godfather of English Absurdism and a phenomenally good writer. You should read him as a matter of extreme urgency.’ Chris Addison
‘N.F. Simpson is one of the greatest British philosophers and funniest playwrights of all time.’ David Quantick
‘You might call N.F. Simpson a surrealist if he were not so funny. Or the Spike Milligan of suburbia if his plays were not so crafted. But really he was a one-off from the word go, and no history of English humour could overlook him.’ Tom Stoppard
'Laugh out loud funny with a delightful sense of the absurd. A hilarious ode to the absurdity of the human spirit. Original, silly, and very funny.' Isy Suttie