Anything for a Laugh: Memoirs
Matt Hartman is a freelance editor and cataloguer, running Hartman Cataloguing, Editing and Indexing Services.
Nicol, a three-time Leacock award winner and former Vancouver Province
columnist, tries a little too hard in this autobiography; the result is
a glancing, rather than a solid, blow to the funnybone. While there can
be no denying the author’s solid credentials as a humorist, his
buckshot approach here misses the mark nearly as often as it hits.
Nichol’s memories range from his childhood and youth in British
Columbia, through his ex-pat years in London and Paris, then back to
Vancouver. His writing skills were honed at the University of British
Columbia, where he wrote a column for the student paper under the
editorship of Pierre Berton. It was at UBC that he first “experienced
the buzz of publication.”
Following the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Nicol enlisted in the Canadian
Air Force. His military experience provides him with no shortage of
material: “Could I have a lock of my hair?,” he asks the barber who
shaves him bald in his first week of basic training. He wants it, he
says, “to remember myself by.” That might be a good summation of
these memoirs: while there are many funny spots, few of them stand out
as being memorable. Such a long and successful career seems to call for
a bit less levity.