I enjoy reading memoirs, but many can be heavy reads. Comedy writers find the perfect balance in their memoirs because they are often littered with humor.
Some readers may steer clear of memoirs because of difficult content. The writing style of comedy writers seems lighter, even when they discuss the darkest episodes in their lives. You can still hear their voices, infused with humor, through the pages. Not all memoirs are well-written and many books can seem disjointed. However, there are a few memoirs by comedy writers that are well worth the read.
Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling
Mindy Kaling is a triple threat in Hollywood: she’s a writer, actor, and producer. Her memoir provides an insight into her upbringing as an Indian-American, with her views on her family and their beliefs resonating throughout. You can hear the voice of the TV comedy writer in this book as her humor is unmistakable. Her memoir also focuses on her beginnings in the entertainment industry, experiencing unique challenges as a female comedy writer of color.
There is much humor in her style of writing, but she also explores serious topics, such as body image issues. I think many people can relate to have issues with their body image, but Mindy Kaling writes about it as a typical comedy writer. She finds humor in this, but it’s underlined with a tinge of sadness. If you like the sarcasm and wit of British comedy, then you’ll appreciate this memoir. As someone who grew up on a diet of British TV comedy, I enjoyed the laugh-out-loud moments in Kaling’s book.
I don’t think the last part of this book falls in the memoir genre. It’s humorous, but it should be part of a separate book of comedy musings. Fortunately, it does not detract from an otherwise funny memoir.
Born a Crime and Other Stories by Trevor Noah
Trevor Noah is a South African-born comedian, comedy writer, and host of The Daily Show. More than a decade ago, Trevor Noah was the comedy act at a few of my company’s year-end functions. This memoir, therefore, seems familiar in the sense that I’ve heard these stories before. It also resonates because of similar experiences as a person of color growing up during apartheid in South Africa.
Noah’s memoir is a very personal account of his upbringing in which, legally, his very existence was evidence of a crime during apartheid. The reason he doesn’t like cars is pure comedy, but it’s linked to a tragedy in his life. His relationships with his mother and grandmother are special. Noah could write an entire TV comedy series based on these relationships.
Apartheid is an intrinsic part of Noah’s memoir. It’s a serious story, but he writes his memoir with humor and in a very matter-of-fact style. You realize that Noah’s personal circumstances have made him into a gifted comedian and comedy writer. This memoir is well worth a read, especially if you want to understand what makes Trevor Noah so unique to American television.
Are You There Vodka? It’s Me, Chelsea by Chelsea Handler
Chelsea Handler is a comedian, writer, and former host of a late-night talk show, Chelsea Lately. Her memoir is a collection of personal essays documenting various periods in her life. Her comedy has always been raunchy, and her writing reflects that. However, her humor is also dry and sarcastic.
The book provides insight into the mind of this comedian. Her stories are hilarious and her imagination seems to have run wild from childhood. Her descriptions of her family relationships, especially with her dad, are both charming and funny. Her dad’s suggestion that she start a lingerie line to capitalize on her early fame provides a clue to how Handler inherited her own wit.
Chelsea Handler is whip-smart and alcohol, which fuels many of her escapades in this book, does not blunt her sense of humor. She has written many books, including further essay compilations, but this book is one of the funniest. If you’re looking for a laugh-out-loud memoir, look no further.
Memoirs are very personal to the authors. It provides unique insights into their life stories. Sometimes, they help readers to better understand the authors. Comedy writers write the most hilarious memoirs, even within the context of difficult subject matters. It’s no wonder they corner the best-seller market.