Camp David is David Walliams autobiography so I feel like I have to give a quick, mega obvious, foreword: I chose the book because I quite like David Walliams’s comedy, if you don’t you are unlikely to enjoy this book. Also, as always with autobiographies my thoughts of the book are not thoughts on the writer and there is no insult or compliment intended to them personally.
Right so the book starts off strongly. He begins, as standard with autobiographies, talking about his family and youth but unfortunately the first 10 pages are probably the best part of the whole story. The way he describes his relationship with his family is touching and does give you a sense of his childhood and affection for them however this quickly goes downhill as the book progresses.
So further to this he then goes on to talk about his time at the youth theatre, uni, his career and his adult relationships as well as his struggles with mental illness. He has the same downfall in all of these sections though and that’s his almost Partridge-like affinity to point out his successes no matter if they completely interrupt the actual point that he is trying to make. In one section he is trying to discuss the best comedy characters having emotional depth.
“I realised the best comedy characters had an emotional truth. Lou Todd, the long-suffering carer, had it too. Others I realised existed much more on the surface, such as Scottish hotelier Ray McCooney or rubbish transvestite Emily Howard. When we toured from 2005 to 2007, completing over 250 performances to a million people, I tired of playing these characters much sooner.”
This style of adding in self-aggrandising facts in the middle of what are supposed to be emotionally progressive moments meant that any point he was trying to make was quickly overlooked. The second most interesting part of the book is Walliams’s struggle with mental illness but his constant need to throw in stats pointing out how successful he was and is takes the emotional edge off. It means that the interesting things he is trying to say are overlooked and it’s very hard to for him to drive any sort of point home.
One extremely odd choice throughout the book as well was his strange portrayal of his relationship with Matt Lucas. He continuously seems to be angry with Lucas while saying he’s an excellent performer. There is never any feeling that he actually enjoys the mans company. Walliams instead continuously says he’s a brilliant comedian that was funnier than him whilst constantly criticising him as a person giving an almost bitter feeling.
On one quick note this book, like many autobiographies, features photos of Walliams throughout his life spread throughout it, however some of these seem to be in the wrong place with the order suddenly changing. That would likely be the publishers rather than the authors fault but I still feel I should mention it.
As a whole I’d say as an autobiography Camp David is distinctly average with occasional moments of brilliance balanced with some odd choices of depiction and a strange lack of self-awareness. If you really are a big fan of David Walliams though then it’s worth a read.