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Book Reviews: Humor

Posted on Aug 9, 2016 |

Stephen Colbert: Beyond Truthiness by Bruce Watson


Nonfiction > Humor

colbertI bought this off Bookbub without actually paying attention to what I was buying. It’s a book about Stephen Colbert, not by him, whoops. But I’m fascinated by people who can write sketch and perform improv, and indeed, much of Colbert’s history with Second City and the Second City philosophy toward comedy that has churned out many stars of TV sitcoms and blockbuster movies reminded me of autobiographies I’ve read about my idols Tina Fey and Amy Poehler.

Also, as a communications major who has always made at least part of my living in media, it was interesting to be reminded of the impact of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and subsequently The Colbert Report had on our culture. Initially, pundits worried that fake news would turn us into an even bigger nation of uninformed idiots than we already are, but instead it was found that fans of those shows were actually more informed than other people—for us to get the jokes, we had to understand what the “real” news was.

This is a fast read and if you’re a fan of Colbert, you will enjoy learning about how he became the character Stephen Colbert and who he is when he’s not on stage.

Housebroken: Admissions of an Untidy Life by Laurie Notaro


Nonfiction > Humor

housebrokenAs usual, Notaro’s books will make you chuckle. I’ve been a long-time fan of hers. Her chapters on being a slob make me feel like we are kindred spirits, and, in this case, a little better about myself because even I’m not *that* bad. When she’s given a book that promises that becoming a tidy person will transform her life, she can’t help but heap hilarious derision on the writer and all people who are tidy. “Tidy is a vegan and that will be the first thing you know about her.”

Not every chapter is a laugh-fest. I don’t understand why a couple chapters were suddenly devoted to recipes—it made me feel like she was padding the book to get a high enough word count to constitute a book. I’m sure for women who have the patience to make their own cheese and cook meals that take hours to prepare, these recipes might come in helpful, but I’m not one of these women. (See the part on how I don’t qualify as “tidy”: If I don’t have time to live in an immaculate home, I’m certainly not going to make a bunch of meals that require dishes to further swell the amount of things I should probably clean).

Available: A Memoir of Heartbreak, Hookups, Love and Brunch by Matteson Perry


Nonfiction > Humor

availableEveryone who has ever done the online dating thing has stories to tell. The ones that are worth recounting are inevitably horrible dates with crazy people, although the truth is that most online dates are just like job interviews except you focus on personal stuff and you might occasionally be asked about favorite sex positions, which is atypical of the job interviews I’ve been on.

In Available, Matteson Perry takes a year off from serial monogamy, hoping to date and have sex with as many women as is feasible without hurting anyone’s feelings. At the start of the book, he’s not sure about what he thinks about marriage since his parents’ divorce, but the way he’s approached relationships so far has just not been working for him: “What makes movies magical is not that incredible things happen in them; incredible things happen in real life, too. No, what makes them magical is they end after the incredible thing happens.”

What made Matteson Perry’s book different from other books about doing tons of dating is 1) It’s told from a man’s perspective (I’ve read other books, nonfiction and fiction, from a female perspective), and 2), he is really funny, getting me to chuckle out loud several times. One particularly funny scene is when he ignores several red flags with a woman and takes her home. They have such aggressive sex that she leaves him with hickeys all over his body—the night before he’s meeting his family for a beach vacation. His ensuing attempts at doing online research on rapid hickey removal is hilarious.

This is a light, fun book. I recommend it both to people who are getting back into dating after a long relationship and to people who are in a long-term relationship (so you can remember that dating stinks, and you should try to work things out if possible).


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