Following the uproar over Michelle Wolf’s funny and accurate, if searing, performance at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, we thought it might be a good time to highlight books by some of our favorite comedians alongside funny books by women writers we love. (And you can always find women being funny, smart, and insightful in our Funny Women column.)
Sometimes the truth hurts. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have to hear it, and all the better if we can couch those painful truths amid laughter.
We Are Never Meeting in Real Life by Samantha Irby
A hilarious collection that touches on life’s big and small moments with equal empathy and wit. The essays in We Are Never Meeting in Real Life span topics as varied as living on a budget, explaining why Irby should be the next Bachelorette, a disastrous pilgrimage-slash-romantic-vacation to Nashville to scatter her estranged father’s ashes, and advice on how to navigate friendships with former drinking buddies who are now suburban moms. What makes her writing so damn good is that despite all the ways that Samantha Irby may (or may not) be different from you, she knows how to relate.
I’m the One That I Want by Margaret Cho
Comedian, icon, TV star, role model, trash talker, fag hag, gypsy, tramp, thief—Margaret Cho displays her numerous sides in this funny, fierce, and honest memoir. As one of the country;s most visible Asian Americans, she has a unique perspective on identity and acceptance. As one of the country’s funniest and most quoted personalities, she takes no prisoners. And as a warm and wise woman who has seen the highs and lows of life, she has words of encouragement for anyone who has ever felt like an outsider.
Either Way I’m Celebrating by Sommer Browning
Whether a traditional lyric, a section-length love poem about cage fighting, or a collage of prose and fragments meditating on a haunted and haunting domestic architecture, the poems in Sommer Browning’s Either Way I’m Celebrating share the same DNA base pairs of humor and sentiment, skepticism and humanism; the source of their integrity is how Browning combines and recombines them. Complemented throughout by her sardonic comics, this collection stubbornly celebrates, if only our own absurdity.
Bossypants by Tina Fey
At last, Tina Fey’s story can be told. From her youthful days as a vicious nerd to her tour of duty on Saturday Night Live; from her passionately halfhearted pursuit of physical beauty to her life as a mother eating things off the floor; from her one-sided college romance to her nearly fatal honeymoon—from the beginning of this paragraph to this final sentence. Tina Fey reveals all, and proves what we’ve all suspected: you’re no one until someone calls you bossy.
You Can’t Touch My Hair: And Other Things I Still Have to Explain by Phoebe Robinson
Using her trademark wit alongside pop-culture references galore, Robinson explores everything from why Lisa Bonet is “Queen. Bae. Jesus,” to breaking down the terrible nature of casting calls, to giving her less-than-traditional advice to the future female president, and demanding that the NFL clean up its act, all told in the same conversational voice that launched her podcast, 2 Dope Queens, to the top spot on iTunes. As personal as it is political, You Can’t Touch My Hair examines our cultural climate and skewers our biases with humor and heart.
Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened by Allie Brosh
This full-color, beautifully illustrated edition features more than fifty percent new content, with ten never-before-seen essays and one wholly revised and expanded piece as well as classics from Brosh’s website like, “The God of Cake,” “Dogs Don’t Understand Basic Concepts Like Moving,” and her astonishing, “Adventures in Depression,” and “Depression Part Two,” which have been hailed as some of the most insightful meditations on the disease ever written. Brosh’s debut marks the launch of a major new American humorist who will surely make even the biggest scrooge or snob laugh.
How to Be a Woman by Caitlin Moran
Caitlin Moran interweaves provocative observations on women’s lives with laugh-out-loud funny scenes from her own, from the riot of adolescence to her development as a writer, wife, and mother. With rapier wit, Moran slices right to the truth—whether it’s about the workplace, strip clubs, love, fat, abortion, popular entertainment, or children—to jump-start a new conversation about feminism. With humor, insight, and verve, How To Be a Woman lays bare the reasons why female rights and empowerment are essential issues not only for women today but also for society itself.
The Three-Martini Playdate by Christie Mellor
Parents were here first! How did the kids suddenly take control? Sure the world has changed from the days when children were supposed to be seen and not heard but things have gotten a little out of hand. What about some quality time for the grownups? Christie Mellor’s hilarious, personal, refreshing, and actually quite useful advice delightfully rights the balance between parent and child. In dozens of short, wickedly funny chapters, she skewers today’s parental absurdities and reminds us how to make child-rearing a kick. With recipes, helpful hints, and illustrations, this high-spirited book is the only book parents will really need and enjoy.
Mouth by Tracey Knapp
The poems in Mouth are about the world of the mouth and its many satellites. Words, especially. And when you’re lucky, another mouth. The poems address the beautiful failures of language to mean what it says, and to be less than the physical at the end of the day, you are left with only the words in your head, the mouth on your face.
The Last Black Unicorn by Tiffany Haddish
Tiffany can’t avoid being funny—it’s just who she is, whether she’s plotting shocking, jaw-dropping revenge on an ex-boyfriend or learning how to handle her newfound fame despite still having a broke person’s mind-set. Finally poised to become a household name, she recounts with heart and humor how she came from nothing and nowhere to achieve her dreams by owning, sharing, and using her pain to heal others. By turns hilarious, filthy, and brutally honest, The Last Black Unicorn shows the world who Tiffany Haddish really is—humble, grateful, down-to-earth, and funny as hell. And now, she’s ready to inspire others through the power of laughter.
Drinking at the Movies by Julia Wertz
In her first full-length graphic memoir, Julia Wertz documents the year she left San Francisco for the unfamiliar streets of New York. Don’t worry—this isn’t the typical redemptive coming-of-age tale of a young woman and her glorious triumph over tragedy or any such nonsense. It’s simply a hilarious—occasionally poignant—book filled with interesting art, absurd humor and plenty of amusing self-deprecation. Box by box, Wertz chronicles four sketchy apartments, seven terrible jobs, family drama, traveling fiascos, and too many whiskey bottles to count. Rereleased by Koyama Press in 2015, this latest edition features a new sketchbook from Wertz and an introduction by Janeane Garofalo.
Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things by Jenny Lawson
In Furiously Happy, a humor memoir tinged with just enough tragedy and pathos to make it worthwhile, Jenny Lawson examines her own experience with severe depression and a host of other conditions, and explains how it has led her to live life to the fullest. Lawson’s debut, Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, ostensibly was about embracing your own weirdness, but deep down it was about family. Furiously Happy is about depression and mental illness, but deep down it’s about joy―and who doesn’t want a bit more of that?
Look Alive Out There by Sloane Crosley
Fans of I Was Told There’d Be Cake and How Did You Get This Number know Sloane Crosley’s life as a series of relatable but madcap misadventures. In Look Alive Out There, whether it’s scaling active volcanoes, crashing shivas, playing herself on Gossip Girl, befriending swingers, or squinting down the barrel of the fertility gun, Crosley continues to rise to the occasion with unmatchable nerve and electric one-liners. And as her subjects become more serious, her essays deliver not just laughs but lasting emotional heft and insight.
Dear Committee Members by Julie Schumacher
Jason Fitger is a beleaguered professor of creative writing and literature at Payne University, a small and not very distinguished liberal arts college in the Midwest. His department is facing draconian cuts and squalid quarters, while one floor above them the Economics Department is getting lavishly remodeled offices. His once-promising writing career is in the doldrums, as is his romantic life, in part as the result of his unwise use of his private affairs for his novels. His star (he thinks) student can’t catch a break with his brilliant (he thinks) work Accountant in a Bordello, based on Melville’s Bartleby. In short, his life is a tale of woe, and the vehicle this droll and inventive novel uses to tell that tale is a series of hilarious letters of recommendation that Fitger is endlessly called upon by his students and colleagues to produce, each one of which is a small masterpiece of high dudgeon, low spirits, and passive-aggressive strategies
Heating & Cooling: 52 Micro-Memoirs by Beth Ann Fennelly
The fifty-two micro-memoirs in genre-defying Heating & Cooling offer bright glimpses into a richly lived life, combining the compression of poetry with the truth-telling of nonfiction into one heartfelt, celebratory book. Ranging from childhood recollections to quirky cultural observations, these micro-memoirs build on one another to arrive at a portrait of Beth Ann Fennelly as a wife, mother, writer, and deeply original observer of life’s challenges and joys. Some pieces are wistful, some wry, and many reveal the humor buried in our everyday interactions. Heating & Cooling: 52 Micro-Memoirs shapes a life from unexpectedly illuminating moments, and awakens us to these moments as they appear in the margins of our lives.
Simple Times: Crafts for Poor People by Amy Sedaris
America’s most delightfully unconventional hostess delivers a book that will forever change the world of crafting. According to Amy Sedaris, it’s often been said that ugly people craft and attractive people have sex. In her new book, Simple Times, she sets the record straight. Demonstrating that crafting is one of life’s more pleasurable and constructive leisure activities, Sedaris shows that anyone with a couple of hours to kill and access to pipe cleaners can join the elite society of crafters.
How to Make White People Laugh by Negin Farsad
Negin Farsad is an Iranian-American-Muslim female stand-up comedian who believes she can change the world through jokes. In this candid and uproarious book, Farsad shares her personal experiences growing up as the “other” in an American culture that has no time for nuance. Writing bluntly and hilariously about the elements of race we are often too politically correct to discuss, Farsad takes a long hard look at the iconography that still shapes our concepts of “black,” “white,” and “Muslim” today—and what it means when white culture defines the culture.
Caca Dolce by Chelsea Martin
Funny, candid, and searchingly self-aware, this essay collection tells the story of Chelsea Martin’s coming of age as an artist. We are with Chelsea as an eleven-year-old atheist, trying to will an alien visitation to her neighborhood; fighting with her stepfather and grappling with a Tourette’s diagnosis as she becomes a teenager; falling under the sway of frenemies and crushes in high school; going into debt to afford what might be a meaningless education at an expensive art college; navigating the messy process of falling in love with a close friend; and struggling for independence from her emotionally manipulative father and from the family and friends in the dead-end California town that has defined her upbringing. This is a book about relationships, class, art, sex, money, and family―and about growing up weird, and poor, in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
Yes Please by Amy Poehler
In her first book, one of our most beloved funny folk delivers a smart, pointed, and ultimately inspirational read. Full of the comedic skill that makes us all love Amy, Yes Please is a rich and varied collection of stories, lists, poetry (Plastic Surgery Haiku, to be specific), photographs, mantras, and advice. With chapters like “Treat Your Career Like a Bad Boyfriend,” “Plain Girl Versus the Demon,” and “The Robots Will Kill Us All,” Yes Please will make you think as much as it will make you laugh.
Self-Inflicted Wounds: Heartwarming Tales of Epic Humiliation by Aisha Tyler
In her book Self-Inflicted Wounds, comedian, actress, and cohost of CBS’s daytime hit show The Talk, Aisha Tyler recounts a series of epic mistakes and hilarious stories of crushing personal humiliation, and the personal insights and authentic wisdom she gathered along the way. The essays in Self-Inflicted Wounds are refreshingly and sometimes brutally honest, surprising, and laugh-out-loud funny, vividly translating the brand of humor Tyler has cultivated through her successful standup career, as well as the strong voice and unique point of view she expresses on her taste-making comedy podcast Girl on Guy.
Complete Stories by Dorothy Parker
As this complete collection of her short stories demonstrates, Dorothy Parker’s talents extended far beyond brash one-liners and clever rhymes. Her stories not only bring to life the urban milieu that was her bailiwick but lay bare the uncertainties and disappointments of ordinary people living ordinary lives.
Meaty by Samantha Irby
Yes, we’re including Sam twice, because she is that funny. In Meaty, Irby laughs her way through tragicomic mishaps, neuroses, and taboos as she struggles through adulthood: chin hairs, depression, bad sex, failed relationships, masturbation, taco feasts, inflammatory bowel disease, and more. Now updated to include her favorite Instagramable, couch-friendly recipes, this much-beloved romp is treat for anyone in dire need of Irby’s infamous, scathing wit and poignant candor.
Wishful Drinking by Carrie Fisher
In Wishful Drinking, adapted from her one-woman stage show, Fisher reveals what it was really like to grow up a product of “Hollywood in-breeding,” come of age on the set of a little movie called Star Wars, and become a cultural icon and bestselling action figure at the age of nineteen. Intimate, hilarious, and sobering, Wishful Drinking is Fisher, looking at her life as she best remembers it (what do you expect after electroshock therapy?). This is Carrie Fisher at her best—revealing her worst. She tells her true and outrageous story of her bizarre reality with her inimitable wit, unabashed self-deprecation, and buoyant, infectious humor.
Agorafabulous!: Dispatches from My Bedroom by Sara Benincasa
One of the funniest and most poignant books ever written about a mental illness, Agorafabulous! is a hilarious, raw, and unforgettable account of how a terrified young woman, literally trapped by her own imagination, evolved into a (relatively) high-functioning professional smartass. Down to earth and seriously funny, Benincasa’s no-holds-barred revelations offer readers the politically incorrect hilarity they heartily crave, yet is so often missing from your typical, weepy, and redemptive personal memoir.
I Know I Am, But What Are You? by Samantha Bee
Candid, outspoken, laugh-out-loud funny essays from much-loved Samantha Bee, host of TBS’s uproarious late-night show Full Frontal with Samantha Bee, executive producer and writer of TBS’s comedy television series The Detour, and former The Daily Show with Jon Stewart’s Most Senior Correspondent. In I Know I Am, But What Are You? she shares her unique and irreverent viewpoint on subjects as wide-ranging as Barbie’s Dream House, childhood crushes, gym class, and family.
Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling
In Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?, Mindy invites readers on a tour of her life and her unscientific observations on romance, friendship, and Hollywood, with several conveniently placed stopping points for you to run errands and make phone calls. Mindy Kaling really is just a Girl Next Door—not so much literally anywhere in the continental United States, but definitely if you live in India or Sri Lanka.
I Feel Bad About My Neck: And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman by Nora Ephron
With her disarming, intimate, completely accessible voice, and dry sense of humor, Nora Ephron shares with us her ups and downs in I Feel Bad About My Neck, a candid, hilarious look at women who are getting older and dealing with the tribulations of maintenance, menopause, empty nests, and life itself. Ephron chronicles her life as an obsessed cook, passionate city dweller, and hapless parent. But mostly she speaks frankly and uproariously about life as a woman of a certain age. Utterly courageous, uproariously funny, and unexpectedly moving in its truth telling, I Feel Bad About My Neck is a scrumptious, irresistible treat of a book, full of truths, laugh out loud moments that will appeal to readers of all ages.
You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost) by Felicia Day
When Felicia Day was a girl, all she wanted was to connect with other kids (desperately). Growing up in the Deep South, where she was “home-schooled for hippie reasons,” she looked online to find her tribe. Felicia’s rags-to-riches rise to Internet fame launched her career as one of the most influential creators in new media. Ever candid, she opens up about the rough patches along the way, recounting battles with writer’s block, a full-blown gaming addiction, severe anxiety, and depression—and how she reinvented herself when overachieving became overwhelming.