Monday, November 21, 2016

5 by Comedians

This is another list of five not on any list books I read this year. I love comedy more than any other genre. I don't often read books by comedians though because I'd rather read a funny story. However, most memoirs have good stories, and comedians have the habit of looking at the humor in stories- so memoirs by comedians are usually chock full of good, funny stories.

1) Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling -I enjoy Mindy. She is smart and doesn't take herself too seriously. But I fear that she may start to as so many famous people do. I can't remember where I read a short piece about her recently where she endorsed Hillary Clinton. I mean, I don't expect any less from a woman in Hollywood, but because I don't read news of any kind, and because she is not professionally qualified to comment on news in any way, this strikes me as the beginnings of her taking herself pretty seriously- a comedian/writer/actress discussing politics in a fashion magazine? Of course she's going to have an opinion, but I'd rather see her joke about the election than seriously weigh in on it- there's way too many celebrities already doing that and it's getting old. Anyway, if you can get past Mindy's emphatically liberal agenda, she's a fun one to read.

2) Dad is Fat by Jim Gaffigan - This is more or less his material about his family life from his shows put into book form. It's great! But it's not new if you've seen his specials a bunch of times. It's still good for laughs though- and especially if you haven't seen his specials a bunch of times.

3) Born Standing Up by Steve Martin - This was published in 2007 which means Martin would've been about sixty years old as he was writing. I did that math because I feel like the tone is sad, and I hope that over the coming years, he will be in the way of more joy. He says he grew up Baptist and I know he is a dad now when he wasn't at the time the book was written- I guess I just think of faith and parenthood as being two big time sources of joy for me. Anyway, I have always really liked Steve Martin, mostly because of his SNL appearances and The Jerk, but also because of his role as George Banks. I think I watched Father of the Bride almost once a week in high school. Something about Martin always reminded me of my own dad, not just when he played a dad, but always. Besides that they were both funny, and probably even something in their appearance, there was something else intangible- something I might even have called volatility, though now I'm not sure that's fair to Martin. Reading a little about Martin's life, I think maybe a more fair correlation might be drawn from the shared struggle with anxiety and the lack of a loving relationship with their fathers. Anyway, this wasn't a funny book, it was a book about comedy and about being a comedian. It definitely shows the exhausting and heartbreaking side of what makes the rest of us so delighted and forgetful of our own troubles for a while. I am grateful for comedians. I think I always have been, I just have a new appreciation for what they go through.

4) This is a Book by Demetri Martin - I have really enjoyed Demetri Martin's comedy specials that George and I have seen together and I got this book for him when it came out a few years ago. I think I must have been in the thick of reading through a list because I never read it myself until this summer. I laughed out loud a lot of times, but I think my favorite bit was "Megaphone."

5) In Such Good Company by Carol Burnett - I think I mostly chose this title to round out this list of five. I did love The Carol Burnett Show as a kid though. I think the comedy shows I watched as a kid made a big difference in my life. I'll have to think more about how. But anyway, this book was a little more than I wanted to read about a show I haven't seen in quite a while. But it really was fun to hear about all of those great guest stars and all from the perspective of a genuinely sweet lady who had all good things to say. It makes me want to track down the show to watch again now. It also makes me want to watch Jimmy Stewart movies- her story about her first meeting him had me reading out loud to George as we both laughed heartily; her other stories about him were sweet and endearing. I said above that Steve Martin always reminded me of my dad; Jimmy Stewart always reminded my mother of her own dad. Carol Burnett never reminded me of anyone though- she always was so uniquely and delightfully her. I think I may look into reading another of her books sometime soon.

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