Comedians can no longer be satisfied to just do comedy these days, they have to do it all whether its start a podcast, appear on everyone’s podcast, write for television, get on late night, be in a sitcom, audition for film roles, and of course, comedians write books. They write memoirs, author gift books, tackle politics, and more. Sometimes the books are deeply introspective, sometimes anecdotal, but they’re always funny. This year’s picks run the gamut- there’s even a travel book of sorts on the list. We picked ten of the best books of the year to highlight, and now we need you to vote on who had the #1 book.
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. This year one of our top ten writers is on the list for a second year in a row- a rare accomplishment grabbed by Doug Stanhope. Stanhope won the prize in 2016 for “Digging Up Mother: A Love Story.” Can he pull a repeat this year? Or will your votes go to one of our other top nominees: W. Kamau Bell, Eddie Izzard, David Sedaris, Ms. Pat, Tiffany Haddish, Todd Barry, Iliza Shlesinger, Cheech Marin or Jackie Martling?
JACKIE MARTLING is a skilled writer with several separate lifetimes of stories to tell, whether it’s about his early club days interacting with some of comedy’s most extraordinary personalities, or his days on the Howard Stern show or his incredible knowledge of comedy history. His new book, THE JOKE MAN BOW TO STERN focuses on the Stern years from his early days through the highly publicized falling out and departure from the show and Martling’s later failed attempts at reconciliation. He shares personal stories and a rare look behind the curtain at the most successful talk radio show of modern times. Martling is very forthcoming with never revealed before details about his time with the show, his contributions, and the personal demons he was battling at the time including alcoholism and a failing marriage. There are plenty of unflattering stories about his former boss throughout. Its the tell all that Stern show fans have been waiting decades to hear.
TIFFANY HADDISH has had the type of year that every comedian dreams about. A break out role in a movie, a Showtime special, and recognition and respect on all sides are only the beginning. She’s also got a brand new book, just released this December called THE LAST BLACK UNICORN, delivering a fearless and hysterically funny collection of very personal essays. Not everyone who hits it big at age 38 has enough life experience to write a book just yet, but Haddish has an incredible story to tell. She grew up in South Central Los Angeles, poor, in foster homes, and with every strike against her. She honed her comedy skills as a means of survival. The title refers to yet another obstacle she handled in her childhood– a wart on her forehead that looked like a horn, earning her the unhappy comparison to a dirty unicorn. Incredibly candid and reflective, this is a pure page turner in every sense of the word that will make you ecstatic for the wave of success Haddish is currently riding
ILIZA SHLESINGER has conquered quite a bit. She was and remains the first and only woman to win NBC’s Last Comic Standing, her debut album was one of the top sellers of the year it was released, and her Netflix special was a gigantic success. This year’s project, GIRL LOGIC: THE GENIUS AND THE ABSURDITY is a collection of essays and observations on her approach to life that has already become a best seller. GIRL LOGIC, the title of the book, is Iliza’s term for the way women obsess over details and situations that men don’t necessarily even notice. A sort of Mars/Venus version of her own feminist philosophy, Iliza discusses why women treat life as a chess game, considering every outcome before making decisions, and how that type of thinking helps women get ahead. The book tackles ambition, sisterhood, and surviving in a world that doesn’t always value what women have to offer.
As one-half of the legendary comedy duo Cheech & Chong, CHEECH MARIN has a lifetime of some of the funniest stories you will ever hear. From his early days starting on stage with Tommy Chong, to creating a marijuana-themed empire replete with albums, films, and swag of all kinds, through his transition to playing more dramatic roles in multiple hit television series, and even becoming a world-renowned art collector- Marin has much to say and his new book, CHEECH IS NOT MY REAL NAME…BUT DON’T CALL ME CHONG covers a lot of ground. A cultural and countercultural icon at the same time, Cheech’s stories are as interesting as they are entertaining. From his first time smoking pot and the revelations that accompanied the experience, the ups and downs of his career, and plenty of personal philosophy, the book reflecting on a life in and outside of comedy is a worthy read.
PATRICIA WILLIAMS, known to comedy fans as Ms. Pat first came to stand up comedy after a caseworker told her there was humor in the way she relayed stories. And she’s got incredible stories to tell. With incredible candor, Ms. Pat chose to share stories that aren’t always funny in her new autobiography, RABBIT, and they make for a riveting read. Honest and introspective, Williams shares stories about the encouragement from her third grade teacher who inspired her, the sexual abuse she endured from her mother’s boyfriend, and taking on her mother’s funeral arrangement as a sixteen year old mother of two. Readers will learn deeply moving and inspiring things about the seemingly fearless woman who graces stages around the country with a smile and a hearty laugh. The stories are complex, frank, and often hilarious, other times heartbreaking. Ms. Pat shares the lessons from her extraordinary journey with others in a way that is relatable to anyone who has ever dealt with struggle.
One of the lighter reads on our list, TODD BARRY created THANK YOU FOR COMING TO HATTIESBURG: ONE COMEDIAN’S TOUR OF NOT-QUITE-THE-BIGGEST CITIES IN THE WORLD as a love letter to all the small towns he has toured over the course of his road career. The book, part memoir and part tour journal, details his experiences on the road throughout his career. You get to live on the road through Barry’s eyes, as you watch him make a promoter clean the dressing room toilet in Connecticut, stare at beached turtles in Maui, and react when Lars from Metallica shows up to see him at a rec center in Northern California.
The new DAVID SEDARIS book, THEFT BY FINDING, DIARIES 1977-2002 is a #1 best selling book that started the year on every major publication’s lists of “most anticipated” books of the year, and ended 2017 on a slew of best book lists. Sedaris is one of the most recognized humor writers on the planet, critically beloved, frequently award-winning, bestselling…the list of accolades goes on and on. His latest is a compilation of observations recorded in his personal journals which he has kept for over forty years- comments, gossip, secrets, thoughts, observations. Too much to cram into one book, this is the two-volume two volume project, covering a 25 year period. It’s the story of how a drug-abusing dropout, with a weakness for spending time at IHOP and an inability to hold down a real job became the beloved and renowned writer he is today.
DOUG STANHOPE ran away with the title of best author in 2016 for Digging Up Mother a Love Story, and he already has a new book just released this month. THIS IS NOT FAME: FROM WHAT I RE-MEMOIR is everything you love about Stanhope- unapologetic, ruthlessly honest, uncomfortable, disturbing, obscene- and full of stories about life on the dirty side of being a road comic. Stanhope doesn’t sugarcoat his life, or conceal the unattractive parts- on the contrary he revels in the things others hide. Chapter headings like “Fucking the Waitstaff”, “The Grass is Always Browner”, “Sucking Abroad” and “Florida Sex Offenders” should give you a pretty good idea of what to expect here. And as he says in his intro, “This book is a journey of life in the breakdown lane on the highway of fame, a motivational opus for those of us who strive for the margins.” Stanhope’s blunt honesty, dark leanings and desire for immediate gratification have earned him a rabid fanbase and propelled him toward celebrity, but at the same time cost him on both a personal level and in his career. A celebration of excess, immorality, and unconventionality, and a damned interesting read that also happens to be funny as fuck.
There is no one like EDDIE IZZARD. He’s a brilliant performer, a rabid political activist, a skilled actor, and a trailblazer in almost everything he does. He’s broken molds as an “action transvestite” performing frequently in make up and heels, other times in suits (always dressed with impeccable style) and he has toured some of the world’s largest venues. And he has the utmost respect of the best comedians in the game. His new memoir, BELIEVE ME: A MEMOIR OF LOVE, DEATH AND JAZZ CHICKENS, gives insight into how an awkward kid, with a difficult childhood who was devastated by the loss of his mother at the age of six willed his way into an unbelievable career. From his early childhood to his days as a street performer in London through his phenomenal ascent to international comedy superstar, Believe Me explores the formative moments in Izzard’s life, and the hard work he put in to reach his goals.
W. KAMAU BELL is renowned for his convictions, opinions and analysis of a wide range of issues, and in his new book, THE AWKWARD THOUGHTS OF W. KAMAU BELL: TALES OF A 6’4″ AFRICAN AMERICAN, HETEROSEXUAL, CISGENDER, LEFT-LEANING, ASTHMATIC, BLACK AND PROUD BLERD, MAMA’S BOY, DAD AND STAND UP COMEDIAN he shares his thoughts on many of them. Covering race relations, fatherhood, interracial relationships, white men, comedians, superheroes, right wing politics, left wing politics to name a few, and some more personal subjects like his own marriage, his relationship with his parents, and struggling to find his unique voice while also trying to fit in. He also covers his own later in life awakening to his own shortcomings, particularly his discovery that while preaching against racism he was guilty of sexism. Bell’s writings are as provocative as they are insightful and will have you questioning some of your own long-held values.