Comedians cover all forms of media in the 2010s. Everyone has a podcast now, and everyone has an album. If you want to stand out from the crowd now, you gotta go next level by putting out a book. Comedians write memoirs, they author gift books, they sometimes tackle politics, or illustrate. . Sometimes the books are deeply introspective, sometimes anecdotal, but they’re always funny even when they’re dark.
2019 is the second year we didn’t really see any major autobio by a comedian. In 2019 the majority of comedy authored books are anecdotal, as you’ll see when you read through our picks for the ten best. We also included a few books that were about comedy, rather than being authored by comedians, and there’s also a book about surviving a tremendous medical setback. 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. ” And in 2018 you gave Jim Florentine the best book of the year award for “Everybody is Awful (Except You)”.
SHEILA MOSCHEN‘s new book THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARILY FUNNY WOMEN: 50 TRAILBLAZER’S OF COMEDY might be one of the best holiday gifts of the season. It’s beautifully illustrated and does a phenomenal job of selecting and giving an introduction to fifty incredibly funny women. Comprehensive histories are blended with stunning art form illustrator Anne Bentley that brings each of the 50 women to life. The illustrations are bright and spirited, but the paths taken by all 50 women was strewn with obstacles, and the book makes it clear how tenacious these funny ladies had to be to be seen. In story after story you read about directors, producers, theater owners, and critics who, proved to be road blocks that had to be overcome. The book covers historic figures like Fanny Brice and Marie Dressler straight through today’s performers like Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer with empowerment being the running thread. A beautiful gift for anyone, but particularly young women forging their own paths.
ALI WONG’s back to back pregnancy specials catapulted her to fame, which means publishing companies were bound to start sniffing around about a book trying to capitalize on new fame and fans hungry for more. The usual route here translates to a dull unnecessary book, but Ali Wong did not take the quick and easy way out here. DEAR GIRLS isn’t lazy, it’s adorable and funny and a great gift for anyone who loves her. It’s also a great gift for new moms. The stories are in the form of letters to Ali’s two daughters (one still in utero while she was writing the book), and cover the unpleasant details of dating, how to be a working mom in a male-dominated profession, and how she trapped their dad. It’s like getting a brand new special from Ali, that you can read. This is a book that moms will give their own daughters having babies and will be the only book someone gifts you when you’re pregnant that will make you laugh.
Comedy’s nice guy, JOSH GONDELMAN had a busy year that included a new album and a book. NICE TRY: STORIES OF BEST INTENTIONS AND MIXED RESULTS is a collection of essays including his acclaimed New York Times piece “What if I Bombed at My Own Wedding?” True stories of hilarious failures, misfortunes and mistakes. Josh writes about a disastrous road trip, trying MDMA, or interactions with suspicious strangers, Josh will make you laugh as your own life implodes. Its relatable, and hilarious, and proof that none of us know what we’re doing on a day to day basis.
We will buy, read, listen to or watch anything that BILLY CONNOLLY wants to sell, so we were excited to see this new book, TALL TALES AND WEE STORIES coming from the comedian’s camp. It’s been one year since Billy announced his retirement from stand up, and if like us, you miss the chance to spend money on Connolly comedy, here’s your chance. Connolly is a legend in comedy and a masterful storyteller, and the book brings together the very best of Billy’s storytelling features many of his most famous routines including, The Last Supper, Jojoba Shampoo, Incontinence Pants and Shouting at Wildebeest. Billy provides an introduction and illustrations throughout, creating an inspirational, energetic and riotously funny read, and a fitting celebration of one of the greatest ever comedians. It’s also a great way to get caught up on some of Connolly’s best.
JEANNIE GAFFIGAN is absolutely amazing and her new book, WHEN LIFE GIVES YOU PEARS is as inspirational as it gets. Jeannie is of course Jim Gaffigan’s other half and not just in the family way. Jeannie is a director, producer and comedy writer, who co-wrote seven comedy specials with Jim, and she was the head writer and executive producer of the critically acclaimed THE JIM GAFFIGAN SHOW which was loosely based on her and Jim’s life. She collaborated with Jim on his two New York Times Bestsellers, DAD IS FAT and FOOD A LOVE STORY. And now she has written a book on her unthinkable experiences that began when doctors discovered she had a pair sized tumor growing in her brain. Keep in mind, she already had 5 children, her husband is Jim Gaffigan, and she is always working on at least a handful of projects in the competitive comedy world. Thankfully, she survived, thrived and this year shared her deeply personal journey. the challenging conversations she had with her children; how she came to terms with feeling powerless and ferociously crabby while bedridden and unable to eat for a month; and how she ultimately learned, re-learned and re re-learned to be more present in life. A must read for anyone dealing with crisis or even something that just feels like crisis. And its a New York Times Bestseller.
AMANDA SEALES can now add author to her resume with a new anecdotal self help book, SMALL DOSES: POTENT TRUTHS FOR EVERYDAY USE. Full of insightful essays, life advice and wisdom, these potent truths will help you get through those crummy days. Seales is a stand-up first, but now has become best known as “Tiffany DuBois” on HBO’s smash hit, Insecure. It’s been a strong year for her, she released her debut stand up special “I Be Knowin” on HBO, and was the one (and only) bright spot on the NBC reality competition series “Bring the Funny.” She also speaks truth via her popular Instagram and weekly podcast, Small Doses and she has masters in African-American studies from Columbia University. She knows how to blend academic intellectualism with Black America colloquialisms and pop culture fanaticism and result is a book that everyone will love.
Comedian JENNY SLATE wasn’t content to just put out a brand new hour special with documentary components this year. She wanted to do it all, and she crushed it with her new book LITTLE WEIRDS. The book isn’t for everyone, you have to be someone enchanted by the strange sounds of Jenny Slate, because she goes off the road map on the reg. But if you do love Jenny (and we do) you will fall deeply and madly in love with Little Weirds. Chapters like “Sad Songs of My Vagina” and “Beach Animals” and “Dog Flower Face” give you some idea of the non-linear trip you’ll take with Little Weirds. As she tells you in her intro to the book, she is a free wild creature and you must think about how you will take her in. She’s a witch, she’s a sprite, and her book is full of broken wonderful things. And her intro and description will either draw you in or send you running so if you decide to read Little Weirds, you know you will love it.
Already a New York Times Bestselling Author, JOHN HODGMAN released his fifth book this year. MEDALLION STATUS: TRUE STORIES FROM SECRET ROOMS . Hodgman has had a strange career that began on the other side of entertainment- as a literary agent. He decided to try writing, and while promoting his book, fell into a job as a Daily Show contributor. He’s been in front of the camera ever since but has continued writing and this year he’s finally writing about the strangeness of his career, and the midlevel of fame he’s enjoyed throughout. The book will teach you some things, like how to prepare for a nude scene with an oboe, or what it feels like to go to a Hollywood party and realize that you are not nearly as famous as the Property Brothers, or, for that matter, those two famous corgis from Instagram. You’ll enjoy stories about how to console yourself when your tv gig is cancelled. The book is a thoroughly self deprecating thoughtful examination of status, fame, and identity–and about the way we all deal with those moments when we realize we aren’t platinum status anymore and will have to get comfortable in that middle seat again. And maybe it will help you realize you don’t crave the world of mid stakes celebrity after all.
JUDD APATOW continues to preserve the legacy of a legend with this new book, ITS GARY SHANDLING’S BOOK. If you gobbled up Apatow’s “Zen Diaries of Gary Shandling” you will not want to live without this new book that collects journal entries, photographs, and essays for a close-up look at the artist who turned his gaze back onto the world of show business. It’s like a companion to the docuseries that you can hold and keep and peruse on cold snowy days by the fire. Contributions by comedians and other leading lights of the industry, as well as people who grew up with Shandling, along with never-before-seen pieces of scripts and brilliant jokes that he never performed, shed new light on every facet of his life and work. This book is the final word on the lasting impact of the great Garry Shandling. From his early days as the only Jew in Tucson, through nearly dying, to killing, and his third act, if you love comedy, this book should be in your collection.
It’s never too soon for a book about MEL BROOKS and PATRICK MCGILLIGAN’S new bio book FUNNY MAN is a fantastic read. Biographer Patrick McGilligan has tackled Orson Wells and later Alfred Hitchcock, and isn’t Mel Brooks a perfect follow up? The book takes you through Mel’s childhood, adolescence and his incredible career. It reads more like a novel than a biography, and not only tells Mel’s story, but also helps you understand the culture that influenced Brooks and his art. Mel’s story is still being told, but that’s why its the perfect time to read about everything that’s happened so far.