10 Books By Comedians That Are More Than Just Stand-Up
Comedic writing is truly an art. It takes a great deal of skill to infuse comedy into a traditionally non-funny topic or your life story. Set up and timing are crucial, as well as language and imagery. Otherwise it looks like you’re trying too hard to be funny, or it simply falls flat and a potentially powerful moment is lost.
There are several comedian’s books that had me laughing until I was in tears, Jim Gaffigan, Dave Hill and Betty White come to mind. They’re great books (especially in audio format) but it’s no surprise they’re funny.
The following books were written by funny people as well, so while they are intended to be humorous, they each put a little spin on their format to make it truly their own.
- Aziz Ansari — Modern Romance
This is one of the best non-fiction books I’ve ever read. It’s thoroughly researched, and Aziz’s unique comedic style comes across clearly. It’s incredibly eye opening in regard to the evolution of dating and romance in our society in the digital age.
2. Rob Delaney — Mother. Wife. Sister. Human. Warrior. Falcon. Yardstick. Turban. Cabbage.
I discovered Roby Delaney several years ago on a list of the funniest people on Twitter. His humor is crude, creative, and almost always crossing a line. This book is so much more than what I was expecting. His comedy is in full effect, yet it manages to be a heartfelt, honest memoir.
3. Tina Fey — Bossypants
Tina Fey is a comedic genius and an amazing writer. Those two skills come together seamlessly in her memoir. She is humble, yet confident.
4. David Spade — David Spade is Almost Interesting
The thing I loved most about Spade’s memoir is that he knew people would read it expecting to gain information about Chris Farley. He provides it with grace, honesty, respect, and of course hilarious jokes. I’m a huge fan of Spade’s general How-in-the-hell-did-I-ever-get-famous attitude, which comes through loud and clear in his memoir, while he still manages to tell everyone who’s ever given him a hard time to suck it.
5. Amy Poehler — Yes, Please!
Similarly to Tina Fey, Amy Poehler manages to express gratitude for where she’s gotten in life, but never hides the fact that she’s had to work incredibly hard to get there. I was surprised by the overwhelming positive messages in this book. Be sure to read a physical copy because the colored photos and glossy pages are part of the experience.
6. Steve Martin — Born Standing Up
I’ve read other books by Steve Martin, his fiction as well as memoir, and this one is truly the best. It captures his voice and style while telling the story of not only his rising comedy career, but an era of comedy.
7. Samantha Bee — I Know I Am, But What Are You?
I was surprised by how dark this book is. There’s definitely comedy, but it’s a sadly funny memoir, told in a collection of essays. It’s a thoughtful, revealing tale of perseverance.
8. Trevor Noah — Born A Crime
This is the only book on my list I haven’t read yet but it’s gotten rave reviews and has been highly recommended to me. Noah has done an admirable job taking over Jon Stewart’s spot on The Daily Show, and I love the title. From Goodreads: “The compelling, inspiring, and comically sublime story of one man’s coming-of-age, set during the twilight of apartheid and the tumultuous days of freedom that followed.”
9. Patton Oswalt — Silver Screen Fiend
This is an awesome exploration of what makes someone who they are, or drawn to what they do. Here Oswalt tells of his obsession with film that began long before his comedy/acting career. I especially liked all the details included about the films, and his trademark way of telling a story/joke in such a way that you don’t realize how big of a deal it is oil he’s finished.
10. Neil Patrick Harris — Choose Your Own Autobiography
I wasn’t sure if I should include NPH here because I think of him as more actor than comedian, but I couldn’t leave it out. NPH does have fantastic comedic timing and a great deal of talent. This memoir is like none I’ve encountered before. It’s touching and witty, ridiculous and thought-provoking.