And Now, For Something Completely Different...

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And Now, For Something Completely Different...

Biographies and Memoirs by the Famously Funny

"And now, for something completely different..."

Laughing burns calories. Laughing releases endorphins. Laughter is the best medicine. I'm not a doctor. I'm just a librarian, but allow me to attempt to sell laughter as the best medicine through these autobiographical works of a few brilliant and famously funny people.

So, Anyway... by John Cleese
You probably recognize him as that fellow known for his funny walks from the sketch comedy troupe Monty Python. At 78 years old, John Cleese is still as sharp and witty and, at times, inappropriate as ever. I had the pleasure of seeing him at a screening of Monty Python and the Holy Grail at the Warner Theatre downtown this past fall, and I must admit my cheeks hurt afterwards from laughing so much. So, Anyway... is a rollicking read, focusing on the days leading up to his celebrity, where he recounts life before Monty Python. An ambling memoir, the tidbits reminisced are the perfect mixture of casual social commentary and delightful anecdotes, with a hint of lunacy for good measure.

I Can't Make This Up: Life Lessons by Kevin Hart
You've seen Kevin Hart in countless box office hits. You've heard his voice as the deranged rabbit in The Secret Life of Pets. Now you have the chance to read words written by him in his heartwarming and hilarious autobiography. Including life lessons from Mom, Dad, school, work, obstacles and loss, these funny-but-true stories are both comical and inspirational. With a chapter teaser like, "You need a teacher, because those who can't do, teach. So if you wanna learn something, go to someone who can't do it. Da#m!t, I think I wrote this one wrong," how could you not look forward to laughing your head off while also learning valuable lessons?

Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson
You know this is going to be fantastic just by looking at the cover. This was one of my very own Book Club's selections. I must admit, usually if I'm assigned a reading task, all the enjoyment deflates from it like a balloon, but that was far from the case with Furiously Happy. Described by the author herself as "a collection of bizarre essays and confused thoughts," this autobiographical work details both humorous and awkward accounts, including Lawson's wacky adventures such as flying to Australia to hug a koala while dressed as a koala, as well as wearing ballgowns just to feel pretty. If you've ever wished for some outlandish inspiration to pull you through your darkest days, then this is the book you've been looking for.

“Take one part David Sedaris and two parts Chelsea Handler and you'll have some inkling of the cockeyed humor of Jenny Lawson... [She] flaunts the sort of fearless comedic chops that will make you spurt Diet Coke through your nose.”

The Last Black Unicorn
by Tiffany Haddish

If you are looking for a fresh New York Times bestseller, then go pick up The Last Black Unicorn. From actress and comedian Tiffany Haddish comes a collection of unabashedly honest advice and essays. If you're looking for advice on anything from staying humble to getting revenge on ex-boyfriends, then this book will have you smiling ear-to-ear. With her energy and brutal honesty, this title is not one to miss. Don't believe me? Surely Vanity Fair, the New York Times Book Review, People, Book Riot, InStyle and Entertainment Weekly can't all be wrong...

"Girls Trip star Tiffany Haddish is the funniest person alive right now." Vanity Fair

Believe Me: A Memoir of Love, Death, and Jazz Chickens by Eddie Izzard
Eddie Izzard is definitely a one-of-a-kind comedian. His New York Times Bestseller, Believe Me: A Memoir of Love, Death, and Jazz Chickens is an openly tragic and tragically wonderful read. Known for his appearances on screen, his stand-up comedy, his sharp cross-dressing and his other well-known New York Times Bestsellers, Eddie Izzard is the master of his craft, no matter which craft you're referring to.

"Izzard is one of the funniest people alive, a talented actor, a sharp cross-dresser, an experienced marathon runner, and a great writer. You will have to read this if only to find out what a jazz chicken is."The Philadelphia Inquirer

The Mother of Black Hollywood : A Memoir by Jenifer Lewis

Jenifer Lewis' iconic status stems from outstanding roles from Broadway to the big screen. Currently featured on the hit comedy series "Black-ish" (that I can't get enough of), Lewis' success takes backseat to her struggles in her new memoir as she opens up about suffering from undiagnosed mental illness and sex addiction in this audacious read. Provocative, heartfelt, and urges its readers to "Love yourself so that love will not be a stranger when it comes." 

Unqualified by Anna Faris
The newly released Unqualified by Anna Faris is one part memoir and one part dating advice. If you've had the privilege to listen to her podcasts on relationships, then you'll love this candid title. Brimming with self-deprecation, profanity and distinction, Unqualified delves into the murky waters of navigating a career and a romance, facing rejection and overcoming one's own awkwardness. If you're looking for hilarious anecdotes paired with very serious life advice, then this is the perfect read for you.

Handbook for an Unpredictable Life: How I Survived Sister Renata and My Crazy Mother, and Still Came Out Smiling (with Great Hair) by Rosie Perez
Rosie Perez is an Oscar-nominated phenom, and her memoir is just as phenomenal as she is. Recounting a harrowing childhood that is downright Dickensian, she divulges how her schizophrenic mother relinquished her to a Catholic orphanage and how the abuse and impoverishment shaped her into the independent woman she is now. Touching and funny, this memoir is inspirational to anyone who believes it takes dirt to grow flowers. 

You're Not That Great: (But Neither is Anyone Else) by Elan Gale
If you have ever found yourself wanting to be a part of the "positivity is power" movement, then you should read Elan Gale's You're Not That Great: (But Neither is Anyone Else). If you want a hint of what this book has to offer, then just read this excerpt by the author: "This book teaches you how to harness all the negativity in the world and use it to improve your life, taking everyday feelings like self-loathing, regret and shame and making them work for you. Positive thinking is for a--holes. Negative thinking is for winners." A book that teaches you how to turn self-loathing and shame into a tool for success? Count me in.

I Have Chosen to Stay and Fight by Margaret Cho
Margaret Cho has literally done it all. Known as an activist, a stand-up comedian, actress, fashion designer, author and singer-songwriter, Cho has a lot of experience under her belt. In I have Chosen to Stay and Fight, Cho focuses on serious matters as a political advocate for the freedom of expression, gay rights and racial discrimination. With just the right amount of humor to enjoy the serious subject matter, this read will have you, too, wanting to fight for what's right.

The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl by Issa Rae
If, like me, you are introverted and awkward, then this is the read for you. Named after her extremely popular web series, The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl harnesses wit, self-deprecation and hilarious admissions to secret shames. Giving advice through anecdotes on everything from dining alone to rap battles, Rae's misadventures will have you realizing just how important it is to not only accept yourself as you are, but also to master the lost art of laughing (at yourself) to keep from crying, especially in a world where introverts are treated like the ultimate misfits.

Laughter truly is the best medicine. My best advice as not a doctor, is to take one or two of these titles with you on your train ride to and from work, or whenever you feel the ache of reality. Refills do not require authorization, only a library card.