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Have Yourself a Holly Jolly Time: Humorous Reads for the Holidays

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Have Yourself a Holly Jolly Time: Humorous Reads for the Holidays

humorous holiday reads

If you are stressed out about your holiday plans, or if global events have you rather depressed,  here are some essay collections and memoirs by comedians and books about comedy published this year and available in the Livingston Library collection that are guaranteed to lighten your mood and introduce more mirth and laughter in your holiday season.

alexandra petri us history

Alexandra Petri’s US History : Important American Documents (I Made Up) by Alexandra Petri

Washington Post humor columnist Alexandra Petri is perhaps America’s most beloved political satirist. Her new, side-splitting work of historical humor uses imagined documents to create a laugh-out-loud, irreverent takedown of our nation’s complicated past.  From the Spanish conquistadors to the Salem witch trials, from Paul Revere’s ride to the exclamation mark in Oklahoma!, Alexandra Petri’s U.S. History presents a deranged timeline in which John and Abigail Adams try sexting, the March sisters from Little Women are sixty feet tall, Nicola Tesla’s friends stage an intervention when he falls in love with a pigeon, and Susan Sontag goes to summer camp. 

Comedy Book : How Comedy Conquered Culture–and the Magic That Makes it Work by Jesse David Fox

From a beloved comedy critic, a wisecracking, heartfelt, and overdue chronicle of comedy’s boom-and its magic.

Congratulations, The Best is Over! Essays by R. Eric Thomas

In this collection of insightful and hilarious essays, Thomas moves back to his perpetually misunderstood hometown of Baltimore (a place he never wanted to return, even to be buried) and behaving completely out of character. They say you can’t go home again, but what if you and home have changed beyond recognition? From attending his twenty-year high school reunion and discovering another person’s face on his name badge, to splattering an urgent care room with blood à la The Shining, to being terrorized by a plague of gay frogs who’ve overtaken his backyard, Thomas provides the nitty, and sometimes the gritty, details of wrestling with the life he thought he’d left behind while trying to establish a new one. 

Cunk On Everything : The Encyclopedia Philomena by Philomena Cunk

Cunk is one of the greatest thinkers of the 21st century, and in this book she turns her attention to our biggest issue: why are there so many books? Wouldn’t it be better if there was just one? This is that book — an encyclopedia of all human knowledge, delving into not only life’s greatest mysteries but our most important political figures and cultural touchstones.

Dumb Ideas : A Behind-the-Scenes Exposé On Making Pranks and Other Stupid Creative Endeavors (And How You Can Also Too!) by Eric Andre

The street pranks and celebrity ambushes that comprise The Eric Andre Show are so precise, original, and well executed that viewers can’t help but wonder how the host, his crew, and writers (including head guy Curry) pull them off. Herein is the riveting backstage guide to how The Eric Andre Show gets made, but it’s also a creative manifesto that the reader can use to make comedy of their own — specifically, how to viciously prank their loved ones.

Everybody’s Favorite : Tales From the World’s Worst Perfectionist by Lillian Stone

A collection of humorous essays chronicle the author’s pursuit of perfection and quest to be everybody’s favorite.

great falls mt

Great Falls, MT : Fast Times, Post-Punk Weirdos, and a Tale of Coming Home Again by Reggie Watts

Growing up as the only biracial kid in Great Falls, Montana, the comedian, musician and band leader takes us through his story, hitting upon the culture shock he experienced after moving from Europe to Montana–a place he needed to leave, but is ultimately drawn back to.

A Guide to Midwestern Conversation by Taylor Kay Philips

Written by a proud Missourian, this is the definitive handbook on Midwestern mannerisms. Phillips’ tongue-in-cheek prose provides a humorous and humanizing look at the culture she calls home. Each section is illustrated with simple-yet-striking graphics by Jovaney Hollingsworth. Together, they provide an engaging, entertaining look at the idiosyncrasies of the Midwest, covering everything from dialect to yard signs, relationship-building to tornado-watching. This guide leaves you with all the tools necessary to effectively (and more importantly, politely) navigate your way through any and all interactions you might have in middle America. 

The History of Sketch Comedy: A Journey Through the Art and Craft of Humor by Keegan-Michael Key & Elle Key

With epic personal tangents and hilarious asides, the Keys take you on an illuminating journey through all facets of comedy from the stock characters of commedia dell’arte in the 16th century, to the rise of vaudeville and burlesque, the golden age of television comedy, the influence of the most well-known comedy schools, and the ascension of comedy films and TV specials—all the way through to a look at the future of sketch on social media platforms. Along the way, we hear tales of Keegan’s childhood, his comedy influences, and the vicissitudes of his career path.  The text is complemented by original art by Elle Key and exclusive essays compiled from conversations with influential performers, sketch writers, and uber comedy fans including Mel Brooks, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Mike Myers, Chris Rock, John Oliver, Tracy Morgan, Carol Burnett, Jim Carrey, Jordan Peele, and many more.

How to Stay Productive When the World is Ending : Productivity, Burnout, and Why Everyone Needs to Relax More Except You by Sarah Pappalardo

A biting humor collection about the cult of productivity and the feeling of impending doom that comes with it, from Reductress, the only satirical women’s magazine in publication.  Juggling careers, maintaining relationships, managing side gigs, and sustaining an engaging social media presence is hard–and we’re expected to do it all while battling the ever-present feeling of existential dread against the backdrop of climate catastrophe, an ongoing pandemic, and social isolation.  Here is a collection of essays, how-tos, and “inspirational” graphics to help you laugh when staying both sane and productive in a commodified world feels impossible.

The Jolliest Bunch : Unhinged Holiday Stories by Danny Pellegrino

The popular podcast host of Everything Iconic and best-selling author offers this festive and funny collection of inappropriately improvised holiday monologues, taking readers on a nostalgic trip to the 90s and 2000s where they can reminisce about their own memories—the good, the bad and the cringeworthy.

Kind of a Big Deal : How Anchorman Stayed Classy and Became the Most Iconic Comedy of the Twenty-First Century by Saul Austerlitz

Comedy historian Austerlitz tells the history of how Anchorman was developed, written, and cast, and how it launched the careers of future superstars like Will Ferrell, Steve Carell, and Paul Rudd, also setting the stage for a whole decade of comedy to come and influencing films like The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Talladega Nights, Knocked Up, Superbad, and so many more. This book is also a cultural analysis of the film’s significance as a sly commentary on feminism, the media, fragile masculinity, 1970s nostalgia, and more. 

misfit

Misfit: Growing Up Awkward in the ’80s by Gary Gulman

A tour-de-force of comedy and reflection about the perilous journey from kindergarten to twelfth grade and beyond from the beloved stand-up comic and creator of The Great Depresh.

Not Funny: Essays on Life, Comedy, Culture, et cetera by Jena Friedman

A funny, whipsmart essay collection on gender, politics, the entertainment industry, and work. With incisive cultural criticism, acerbic wit, and an interdisciplinary mind, Jena sheds light on her life as a millennial woman, treated as too smart, brash, and fearless for her own good through this collection of essays. We see her at her highest highs and lowest lows. We see her struggle to accept mistreatment in exchange for career advancement. We see her cope with “cancel culture” first-hand, as mentors she trusts are called to account for misdeeds she herself did not witness. We watch her unpack the roots of humor, and her lifelong goal to change minds through political incitement.

Quietly Hostile: Essays by Samantha Irby

In this much-anticipated new collection of hilarious essays, the beloved author takes us on another outrageously funny tour of all the gory details that make up the true portrait of a life behind the screenshotted depression memes. 

Sure, I’ll Join Your Cult: A Memoir of Mental Illness and the Quest To Belong Anywhere by Maria Bamford

From stand-up comedian Bamford, a brutally honest and hilariously frenetic memoir about show business, mental health, and the comfort of rigid belief systems—from Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People, to Suzuki violin training, to Richard Simmons, to 12-step programs. From struggling with an eating disorder as a child of the 1980s, to navigating a career in the arts (and medical debt and psychiatric institutionalization), Bamford has tried just about every method possible to not only be a part of the world, but to want to be a part of it. With sincerity and transparency, she recounts every anonymous fellowship she has joined (including but not limited to: Debtors Anonymous, Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous, and Overeaters Anonymous), every hypomanic episode (from worrying about selling out under capitalism to enforcing union rules on her Netflix TV show set to protect her health), and every easy 1-to-3-step recipe for fudge in between.

Surely You Can’t Be Serious : the True Story of Airplane! By David Zucker

Airplane! premiered on July 2nd, 1980. With a budget of $3.5 million it went on to make nearly $200 million in sales and has influenced a multitude of comedians on both sides of the camera. This is the first-ever oral history of the making of Airplane! by the creators, and of the beginnings of the ZAZ trio (Zucker, Abrahams, Zucker) – charting the rise of their comedy troupe Kentucky Fried Theater in Madison, Wisconsin all the way to premiere day. The directors explain what drew them to filmmaking and in particular, comedy. With anecdotes, behind the scenes trivia, and never-before-revealed factoids – these titans of comedy filmmaking unpack everything from how they persuaded Peter Graves to be in the movie after he thought the script was a piece of garbage, how Lorna Patterson auditioned for the stewardess role in the backseat of Jerry’s Volvo, and how Leslie Nielsen’s pranks got the entire crew into trouble, to who really wrote the jive talk.

Unreliable Narrator : Me, Myself, and Impostor Syndrome by Aparna Nancherla

Stand-up comedian Nancherla writes about impostor syndrome, comedy, and coming into her own in this funny and insightful collection of essays. She deftly employs the tension and release of a stand-up routine, writing vulnerably about her struggles with eating disorders, depression, and finding her comedic voice, followed by interludes of jokes and confessions. She discusses how race, gender, and being the child of immigrants factor into her personality and how she is perceived by audience members and her peers and argues that structural change, led by diverse voices, is the best way forward in her industry. 

Archana Chiplunkar, Adult Services & Acquisitions Librarian

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