Even I need a break from dark and twisty reads sometimes, and that’s when only a lighthearted, feel-good, hilarious book will do. Luckily, there’s no shortage of these thanks to the rise of humorous essay-collections-slash-memoirs from some of the most talented female comedians in show business. Their laugh-out-loud takes on life and love will instantly brighten your day, guaranteed. Here are eight books worth turning to when you need something insightful and delightful in equal measure.
You watched her for years on Saturday Night Live and then on Parks and Recreation, but how much do you really know about Amy Poehler and how she achieved such a successful career in comedy? This collection of stories, lists, poetry, advice, and more doesn’t just show you a little something about what makes your favorite Golden Globes co-host tick. It also offers inspirational wisdom on how to take charge of your own destiny, career and otherwise.
A comedic genius, actress, media darling, and all-around-awesome lady, Amy Poehler is beloved by her peers and fans for her realness, her integrity, and her intelligence. Her memoir is powered by the charming and hilarious, biting yet wise voice that has made her the celebrity best friend that most people dream of.
The breakout star of the movie Girls Trip, Tiffany Haddish has established herself as a comedy queen on the big screen in the last few years. You also can’t help but adore her refreshing attitude about money and fashion—and by that I mean her view that if you buy a beautiful designer dress (say, a white Alexander McQueen gown), you should get to wear it as often as you please! Her down-to-earth nature and irreverent humor are exactly why you’ll want to read her book.
From guileless receptionist in The Office to naive cult survivor in Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Ellie Kemper’s sweet characters have made a mark on pop culture. What you may not realize, though, is that she’s also quietly built up a portfolio of written pieces at publications such as The Onion, McSweeney’s, and The Huffington Post. In her first book, the actress takes you behind the scenes of her life as well as of her television shows with her trademark winning style.
Comedian and star of The Office and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Ellie Kemper delivers a hilarious, refreshing, and inspiring collection of essays “teeming with energy and full of laugh-out-loud moments” (Associated Press).
“A pleasure. Ellie Kemper is the kind of stable, intelligent, funny, healthy woman that usually only exists in yogurt commercials. But she’s real and she’s all ours!” —Tina Fey
“Ellie is a hilarious and talented writer, although we’ll never know how much of this book the squirrel wrote.”—Mindy Kaling
Meet Ellie, the best-intentioned redhead next door. You’ll laugh right alongside her as she shares tales of her childhood in St. Louis, whether directing and also starring in her family holiday pageant, washing her dad’s car with a Brillo pad, failing to become friends with a plump squirrel in her backyard, eating her feelings while watching PG-13 movies, or becoming a “sports monster” who ends up warming the bench of her Division 1 field hockey team in college.
You’ll learn how she found her comedic calling in the world of improv, became a wife, mother and New Yorker, and landed the role of a bridesmaid (while simultaneously being a bridesmaid) in Bridesmaids. You’ll get to know and love the comic, upbeat, perpetually polite actress playing Erin Hannon on The Office, and the exuberant, pink-pants-wearing star of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.
If you’ve ever been curious about what happens behind the scenes of your favorite shows, what it really takes to be a soul cycle “warrior,” how to recover if you accidentally fall on Doris Kearns Goodwin or tell Tina Fey on meeting her for the first time that she has “great hair—really strong and thick,” this is your chance to find out. But it’s also a laugh-out-loud primer on how to keep a positive outlook in a world gone mad and how not to give up on your dreams. Ellie “dives fully into each role—as actor, comedian, writer, and also wife and new mom—with an electric dedication, by which one learns to reframe the picture, and if not exactly become a glass-half-full sort of person, at least become able to appreciate them” (Vogue.com).
Years before Samantha Bee launched Full Frontal with Samantha Bee or hosted the annual Not the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, she was the lone female correspondent on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. There she honed her keen talent for satire and used her unique perspective as a Canadian-born American citizen to (lovingly) expose the ridiculousness of U.S. politics. Oh, and she somehow found the time to write a book in there too.
Candid, outspoken, laugh-out-loud funny essays from much-loved Samantha Bee, host of TBS's uproarious late-night show Full Frontal with Samantha Bee, executive producer and writer of TBS's comedy television series The Detour, and former The Daily Show with Jon Stewart’s Most Senior Correspondent.
In I Know I Am, But What Are You? she shares her unique and irreverent viewpoint on subjects as wide-ranging as:
BARBIE’S DREAM HOUSE
There were six main players in my coterie: G.I. Joe (macho, good-looking), Wonder Woman (hot, carpet-munching neighbor, busy with athletics), Marie Osmond (career gal, smart), Ken (gay, obviously), regular Barbie (slutty, dumb, eternally single), and an old-timey Barbie from the sixties (smoker’s cough, swinger).
HER CHILDHOOD CRUSH
I had a notebook dedicated to ironing out the details of my postmarital name change. Samantha Christ. Mrs. Jesus H. Christ. In fact, Jesus and I were so tight that if at any moment He should materialize, I knew we would listen to my disco records and eat Tang straight from the package, just like lovers did.
My grandmother would send me in a navy-blue, puffy-sleeved, one-piece cashmere sweat suit with a patent-leather belt, and warn me not to sweat in it, since it was dry-clean only.
There’s really nothing creepier than going somewhere with one of your parents and having people think you are together, as a couple. Of lovers. Who do it. With each other.
What can I say about Mindy Kaling? I thought she was funny on The Office; I was obsessed with her work on The Mindy Project, a rom-com TV series she starred in, produced, wrote for, and created. But whereas her larger-than-life characters are only occasionally relatable, Kaling’s first essay collection speaks to experiences and insecurities familiar to so many of us. Except, you know, she makes it all funnier. I still think about her commentary on New York versus L.A. and how a little tailoring can go a long way.
This humorous memoir is a look at moments throughout Mindy Kaling’s life—from her career as an actress to her interesting dating life to having immigrant parents, she tells stories that many can relate to. She’s hilarious and this book reads like a page out of your friend’s diary.
You probably know Retta best from her scene-stealing turns in the shows Parks and Recreation and (my personal fave) Good Girls, but a Hollywood career wasn’t always a foregone conclusion; she actually graduated from Duke University fully intending to go to medical school. Retta reveals all this and more (much more, like why she felt like the odd person out on Parks, and how she totally stalked the Hamilton cast) in her candid, inspiring memoir.
To know Issa Rae is to love her. And that’s as true now that she’s the star and creator of a little HBO show called Insecure as it was back when she was the up-and-coming star and creator of the beloved web series Awkward Black Girl. Her oh-so-relatable musings on the struggles of being an introvert (and especially a black introvert) in a world that constantly overlooks the awkward and shy types make her book a must-read. You’ll laugh and nod along at the same time.
For fans of “Insecure”
Issa Rae is awkward . . . and black, which is, in the opinion of her peers, a very unfortunate combination. This is made plain in her new TV show “Insecure ” and her New York Times bestseller THE MISADVENTURES OF AWKWARD BLACK GIRL. In this memoir-guide hybrid, Issa humorously illuminates what it’s like to be unabashedly awkward in a world that regards introverts as hapless misfits and black as cool.
No list would be complete without Tina Fey’s contribution to the publishing scene. As if her sketches in Saturday Night Live, her scripts for 30 Rock, and her screenplay for the classic teen movie Mean Girls weren’t enough, she had to go and write a fantastic, memorable book too. Touching on everything from her early days as a “vicious nerd” to the start of her career at SNL to her life as an exhausted working mom, Fey’s autobiographical essays go to show that even successful comedians are, deep down, just like you and me.
Before Liz Lemon, before "Weekend Update," before "Sarah Palin," Tina Fey was just a young girl with a dream: a recurring stress dream that she was being chased through a local airport by her middle-school gym teacher. She also had a dream that one day she would be a comedian on TV. She has seen both these dreams come true.