8 Best Comedy Books Update 05/2022

Best Comedy Books

Reading during times of stress can be both educational and self-medicating. Comedy books have always been a way to reach those goals, and in 2021, there were a lot of new ones that did both. There were works of fiction made to make people laugh and feel good, nonfiction books about how to make people laugh, and books by comedians about how they stay funny even in the darkest of times.

As a society, we read more in 2021. It could be because we were still sheltering in place and locking down for large parts of the year, but it looks like we read more in 2021 than we did in 2019. The part of the pandemic that happened in 2020 may have made us run out of things to watch. But it just feels like we had more time and space to read this year than we did in the past.

It’s now time to look at of the best books of the year that have a lot to do with comedy.

I Am Not a Wolf, by Dan Sheehan

I Am Not a Wolf, by Dan Sheehan

Writing a novel in the second person, in which the protagonist is literally “you,” is both hard and rare. It’s not seen very often outside of Choose Your Own Adventure books from our childhood. In I Am Not a Wolf, Sheehan fully commits to and raises the you-are-there and interactive-fiction ideas to absurd heights in a way that is hard to believe. Reader: In this book, the reader is actually a wolf, but they’re pretending to be a human and having a great, successful life while trying to hide their true nature at every turn. It’s kind of like a video game, but it’s a lot more funny and fun, too.

Big Time: Stories, by Jen Spyra

She has written for the Onion and The Late Show With Stephen Colbert, two of the most well-known comedy shows in the world. Big Time shows her full sense of humor, unfiltered and running wild. Here, Spyra has hit the big time (sorry). The characters in her wonderful and unpredictable and comically dazzling stories keep going for their dreams even though everything always goes wrong. Take the bride-to-be, who is willing to do anything to lose a little weight, even if that means putting her life in chaos and terror. You also have a child who, after a magical snowman comes to life, acts like it’s real, and it’s not fun at all. The comic essays that seem to work are the ones that start with a familiar or relatable idea and then blow it up. Spyra is clearly a master at this.

She Memes Well, by Quinta Brunson

Here is a book that is both a book about comedy and a book about internet comedy. It’s both a book about comedy and a book about internet comedy. As a bonus, it was written by someone who makes a lot of good internet comedy. Brunson talks about how she and her generation spend most of their time online in essays. This opens up the idea that comedy can be as democratic as the digital world. It’s a great look at how culture and business work together, as well as how meta, silly, self-conscious comedy, which Brunson helped to popularize, has changed.

Penny Pinching Tips for the Morally Bankrupt, by Libby Marshall

Penny Pinching Tips for the Morally Bankrupt, by Libby Marshall

Marshall is a regular contributor to some of the internet’s most important humor sites, like Reductress and the Belladonnas. This is her first attempt at writing a comic book. These short stories all have one thing in common: death and darkness. They’re written from the point of view that everyday life isn’t boring, but cruel and aggressive (and funny). Marshall always does a great job with the high-concept stories he tells. In this book, you’ll read about a serial killer who decides to kill her high-school rival when she moves into her nursing home, the story of a man who started dating again after his wife died in the Salem witch trials, and the story of a Chuck E. Cheese haunted by the ghost of Princess Diana. If Penny Pinching Tips doesn’t make you laugh, it’s because it’s written by a comic who thinks outside the box and has a unique style.

You’ll Never Believe What Happened to Lacey: Crazy Stories About Racism, by Amber Ruffin and Lacey Lamar

When Ruffin and her sister Lamar are exposing racism, it can be very funny. Racism isn’t funny, but when Ruffin and her sister Lamar do the exposing, it can be very amusing. Ruffin is the most interesting of all the late-night TV hosts, and he can be both light and provocative at the same time. The Amber Ruffin Show is almost the only show in this type of show that features satirical sketches and talks about racial issues all the time. In You’ll Never Believe What Happened to Lacey, the authors, two Black women, write about how they’ve been treated casually and blatantly as African-American women. The book is a continuation of that. All comedy points out the absurdities and cruelties of life, but great comedy doesn’t back down from taking a stand against those things.

Funny Thing About Minnesota …: The Rise, Fall, and Rebirth of the Twin Cities Comedy Scene, by Patrick Strait

We probably already have a lot of books about the comedy scenes and movements in New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles, but this one about the greater Minneapolis–St. Paul area in the ’70s and ’80s is a welcome change. Strait celebrates the unique comedy of people like Louie Anderson and Joel Hodgson, which could only have come from a small, semi-isolated city.

All About Me!: My Remarkable Life in Show Business, by Mel Brooks

All About Me! My Remarkable Life in Show Business, by Mel Brooks

Finally, a memoir from one of the few 20th-century American comics who hasn’t written one yet. It’s also a history of modern humor. Brooks is a person who went from performing in the Borscht Belt to early television to making renegade films in the 1970s. All About Me! is written in Brooks’s familiar, always moving, confident voice, and you can hear his boisterous barking in your ear as he remembers every untold story from every important project he worked on, as well as less well-known but still important work like Spaceballs.

New Teeth: Stories, by Simon Rich

Every time Simon Rich, a former SNL writer who wrote the shows Man Seeking Woman and Miracle Workers, comes out with a new book, it’s a big deal. His long short stories are often high concept and have ideas that anyone else would find corny and cringe-worthy, but that he thinks are great. He is always, without fail, clever, with a sense of fun in his work. Is true for this book as well, which has a common thread of literary comedy sketches or word cartoons written by new husband and father men who are having a hard time adjusting to the changes that come with having a child. This is best shown in a story about a laser-disc player that is sentient and in some detective stories written from the point of view of a baby.

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