Comedians no longer are satisfied to just perform on stage- they have to constantly be doing side projects. Host podcasts, get a gig on tv, perform a set on late night, produce things, act, there’s a never ending list of gigs– and they also write books. They write memoirs, author gift books, tackle politics, illustrate, and more. Sometimes the books are deeply introspective, sometimes anecdotal, but they’re always funny even when they’re dark.
2018 was not the year of the celebrity memoir in comedy. It also was a year in which Doug Stanhope didn’t write a book. That means someone else has a chance to win. In 2018 the themes are death and self help satire, as you’ll see when you read through our picks for the ten best. We picked ten of the best books of the year to highlight, and now we need you to vote on who gets the top spot.
In 2014, you voted Joan Rivers ,”Diary of a Mad Diva” as the best book authored by a comedian and in 2015 Colin Quinn’s “The Coloring Book” grabbed top honors. Doug Stanhope won the prize in 2016 for “Digging Up Mother: A Love Story” and pulled a repeat win in 2017 for “This is Not Fame. ”
This year, there are a wide variety of writers from the stand up comedians, podcasters, tv writers and more .
Read the nominees, read the books and judge for yourself. Then vote.
TOM PAPA’S new book WHO MOVED MY RAKE, AND OTHER FAMILY DILEMMAS is one of the funniest reads of 2018. It’s relatable to anyone with a family of any shape or size, and like Tom’s stand up comedy, it works on a light, easy-breezy level if you’re just looking for a laugh, or a vacation read. But it also has real depth behind the stories he tells, and real social commentary (whether Tom meant to put it there or not). Tom floats back and forth stories about his childhood as a kid dealing with parents, to his current experience as a parent with kids. The book looks at what has change in the family structure over the course of three generations (his parents, his grandparents and his kids), and what hasn’t. It’s also a Papa family memoir told through anecdotes, and they’re such great stories. If you’re still looking for a gift for the holidays, this is a book anyone you know will enjoy.
SEBASTIAN MANISCALCO is a gigantic star with a massive following, so it makes sense that decided to put out a book. STAY HUNGRY is not exactly a memoir, but it’s close enough. The collection of essays and anecdotes tell his story from playing boxing rings all the way through selling out theaters. Maniscalco was only 24 when he showed up in Los Angeles with no experience determined to make it as a comic. Now he’s consistently on Forbes list of highest earners in the business, he’s selling out Madison Square Garden, and he’s released four specials. In between, a lot has happened, and you can read stories about Sebastian’s hell gigs, his mentors, and how he survived while making no money. The key? Stay hungry. If you love his comedy, you’ll love his writing. It’s incredibly fast paced and readable. It’s also inspiring.
This is not a self help book about how to avoid shootings. This is D.L HUGHLEY’s responds to all that advice from white people about how they think black people should avoid trouble, in self help book form. Advice like “If only he had complied with the cop, he might be alive today,” and “he shouldn’t have worn that hoodie.” D.L. says that kind of advice goes all the way back to slave days, with black people being advised how to pick cotton, where to sit on a bus, what neighborhood to live in and even how to wear clothing. It’s a brilliant premise, taking all of the criticisms leveled at black people over the years and labeling it as advice, and packaging it as an illustrated how-to guide, not unlike the infamous Preppy Handbook that once sold millions of copies. In it, D.L. compiles advice for how to act, dress, speak, walk, and drive safely, and its brilliant, satirical and very funny. A great read for anyone. It’s a laugh out loud funny book that is also very effective, pointing out the hypocrisies of the advice that Americans have used to avoid dealing with racial inequality. Chapters include “How to Do Your Hair”, “What to Name Your Kids”, and “How to Move Into a White Neighborhood.” And when you comply with police orders, should you do it quickly? Or slowly? Flowcharts and diagrams included.
CHRIS GETHARD’s new book LOSE WELL brings help to those of us who can’t catch a break. If you don’t fit it, if you find people around you rolling your eyes, if everyone at work hates your contributions, and maybe even your own kids make you feel like an idiot, you might feel like you were born to lose. But the real truth is, we’re all born to lose most of the time, so Gethard feels that we should take some time to learn to be better at it. To Chris, failure can be an art form, and maybe the best way to figure out who you are as a person, and how to live your life. Gethard has a true gift for taking his own failures and turning them into hilarious life affirming stories. He also looks back and sees how many of his most uncomfortable failure helped create a future success. The book uses a self help manual type narrative and uses Chris’s incredible storytelling to illustrate his suggestions. Keep Chris Gethard in your back pocket for those times you need someone to understand what you’re going through and give you a laugh and a metaphorical fist bump to the shoulder. Chris understands.
LAURIE KILMARTIN is already a New York Times Bestselling author (as co-author of Sh*tty Mom), and now she’s back with DEAD PEOPLE SUCK, A GUIDE FOR SURVIVORS OF THE DEARLY DEPARTED. Yes, its a book we all will need at one time or another and if you’re going to turn to the written word for help with your grief, wouldn’t you want to turn to someone who can make you laugh? Laurie went viral for live tweeting her father’s hospice, and created a truly beautiful and hilarious comedy special from those experiences, and now her new book is her guide to surviving death and grief without losing your mind. There are also chapters in the guise of advice for the about-to-be-dearly-departed, that will help survivors to laugh through their pain. Chapters like “Are you an old man with daughters? Please shred your porn,” and “A comprehensive list of things you should do” before you die. For those planning to survive the impending death there are chapters like “Get Their Passwords” and “Help I’ve Just See My Father’s Penis”. If you have parents, and you don’t plan on dying first, you need this book.
JIM FLORENTINE’S roast of the internet age, EVERYBODY IS AWFUL (EXCEPT YOU) is hilarious and the perfect book from the man who brought you Terrorizing Telemarketers. In this book, Florentine takes on Twitter Trolls, Facebook Freaks, and Instagram Exhibitionists, pointing out all the things that are shitty on the internet. Nothing is funnier than when Jim goes to people’s Facebook and Twitter pages, borrows their posts, and lays them out. People who probably have no idea they’re in a book. Maybe even you. This book will make you feel better about how much you hate the rest of the world, because now you’ll know Jim’s on your side, but be prepared because even if he’s not picking apart your shit, you know you are guilty of at least some of what he’s talking about. It’s sort of the flip side of a self help book, but Florentine’s still a therapist of sorts. He’s like a metal version of a therapist- one who diagnoses bad behavior but then shames the awful people in public, all while making you feel better about yourself.
Irish immigrant MAEVE HIGGINS has already made a career talking about her experiences immigrating to the United States. Her podcast Maeve in America is a huge hit, and she’s a contributing writer for the New York Times. For those of you without time to squeeze one more podcast into your life, she’s bringing those experiences to written form. This collection of essays about life, love and becoming an American is the story of how Maeve found herself in New York City after spending the first 30 years of her life in Ireland. Her writing is exceptional, self aware, and truly funny as she explores life’s awkward questions. Is clapping too loudly at a gig a good enough reason to break up with somebody? Is it ever really possible to leave home? Reviewers have compared her writings to the likes of Tina Fey, Nora Ephron, and David Sedaris, and Maeve has sitcom written all over her.
You’ve seen ADAM CAYTON-HOLLAND on truTV’s first scripted series, “Those Who Can’t” or you’ve heard of him as part of Denver’s infamous Grawlix comedy troupe, or maybe you were introduced to him this year when Variety named him to their prestigious “10 Comics to Watch” list. Before Adam was a break out comedian, he was a sensitive kid with two sisters, raised by a civil rights lawyer and an investigative journalist. He handled the lessons they passed along with comedy, his older sister Anna followed in her father’s footsteps in the law, and his younger sister Lydia struggled to find where she fit. But she and Adam were very close, and they used to crack jokes and run bits and bond over a mutual love of The Simpsons. That relationship that would continue into the start of his career as Lydia worked the door at Adam’s shows or behind the scenes. But Lydia struggled with mental health issues- falling into deep depression that she struggled with for years before ultimately taking her own life and devastating her family. Adam was left to try to process that trauma while building a career in comedy at the same time. His new book TRAGEDY + TIME is a compelling and darkly funny tribute to his sister, and meditation on mental illness, grief and recovery.
NELL SCOVELL’s new memoir, JUST THE FUNNY PARTS is a really important book. Going far beyond bio and experiential material, Scovell’s memoir touches on some of the most important social and culture workplace issues of our #METOO times. She brings life, vibrancy and real-life stories to the conversation America and the world is deeply embroiled in, and adds depth of experience to the issues. Through her own experiences, Nell takes you through what really happens in the closed-door world of Hollywood writers rooms illuminating quite a few dark corners including the hard-to-believe-its-still-this-bad lack of diversity, the way male co-workers subtly and not so subtly demean and diminish others, sometimes without even realizing it, and the depressing double standards applied toward women at work. For anyone who scoffs at headlines proclaiming unfair practices in the biz, Nell’s book puts the behavior in real life context that can’t be ignored or brushed away. You can’t sideline Nell’s revelations by blaming her for the problems, or calling her a woman who “can’t hang” in the boys club. On the contrary, Nell’s story is successful by any standard- her resume includes working with television GIANTS. Giants like Garry Shandling, Newhart, the Smothers Brothers, The Simpsons, Coach, Murphy Brown, the Muppets and Letterman for starters- creating and showrunning the hit series Sabrina, and dozens of other gigs that go on for pages. And through her book you learn that she’s exactly the type of woman who can hang with the guys. A page-turning tell-all exposing some really reprehensible behavior ranging from hypocrisy to sexual assault.
ABBI JACOBSON is one half of the breakout team of Abbi and Ilana, the girls behind and in front of Broad City. Her new book I MIGHT REGRET THIS: ESSAYS, DRAWINGS, VULNERABILITIES AND OTHER STUFF is already a bestseller. Abbi takes a solo cross country road trip much to the horror of her friends and family (why are you going alone!? is it safe!?), and along the way she eats mostly fast food, changes her politics, and becomes a car fanatic. And she also mulls over the big questions of her life. What do I really want? What is the worst possible scenario in which I could run into my ex? How has the decision to wear my shirts tucked in been pivotal in my adulthood? It’s also a very personal book about life after ex. It’s a page turner that fans of Abbi’s will adore, but you don’t have to have seen her comedy or her show to get on board.
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