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Who Needs some Comedic Stress Relief?

December 9, 2021

It’s the end of the year! Time for all the holidays (yay!) and the stress that comes with them (boo!). If you need something to help take the edge off, might I recommend some folks with excellent comedic skills? I enjoy watching comedians on stage, and I love when they take the time to corral their hilariousness into book form.

Federman teaches a class on the history of standup at USC. I enjoyed the first half of this short book quite a lot. It began with the history of vaudeville and radio – about which I knew very little. For example: did you know that vaudeville comedians had to refrain from using profane or dirty language? If the censors didn’t like something they said in their routine, after the show the comedian would receive a blue envelope. Hence the origin of the phrase “working blue” to describe risqué material. The back half of the book felt more like a super broad overview – maybe because I was more familiar with the material. It was also most like a commercial for his class. I’ll be honest: I’d take it if I were closer to USC. Or, you know, if it was free. Guess I’ll have to settle for the book.

I had no idea who Phoebe Robinson was before I picked up this book. I just knew I had to read it because of the title. My husband and I used to have this fight ALL THE TIME. He didn’t get that street clothes picked up germs and gunk, and the last thing I want is to sleep in that gunk each night. It’s nice to find others who agree with me. Turns out that Ms. Robinson is part of the 2 Dope Queens with Jessica Williams. You might have heard of their podcast and HBO Specials. I hadn’t, but you can bet I’m gonna get caught up. Some of her essays in this one are more poignant than funny, and some were outside of my realm of experience. But I think that makes this an even better read. My favorite part of the book was when she calls her British significant other British Baekoff. I wish my husband could bake and was British so I could totally steal this. Sigh.

I found Jo Koy by accident one day while scrolling through the Netflix standup specials. I’ve never seen him live, but I’d love to go if he comes to Nashville (and if we can get this whole COVID thing figured out). The stories he tells about his Filipino mom are hilarious. From his comedy, I’d gotten the picture that growing up had been tough in his house, but this book takes that to the whole next level. His dad left, and his brother has some serious mental issues that endangered the entire family. I really appreciated how much of a hustler he is, though. No one handed him anything. He was out there working, doing standup, and promoting others in order to get where he is. Definitely a fan. 

I randomly found Iliza on Netflix and fell in love. Her most recent special, Iliza: Unveiled, was actually shot here in Nashville at TPAC. She is smart and funny (and just a little bit crazy). I didn’t realize she’d written a book until I started working on this post. If you’ve seen her specials, you know that Iliza is very girl positive and not shy. I wish I had found this book in my twenties (even though she hadn’t written it yet, but whatever). In February 2020, I bought tickets to see Iliza live at the Ryman, but then the show got postponed 18 times due to COVID. Currently, I’m scheduled to see her in July 2022. Same tickets. This is the longest period of time I’ve ever had between purchasing tickets and seeing the show. The good thing? I know it will be worth the wait. In the meantime, I got to read this.

I love Nick Offerman. Don’t believe me? Check out this post from a while back. So when I saw that he had a new book out I was SO IN! To be fair, Offerman does not consider himself a comedian but a humorist. Fine line, I know, but that is the kind of high-brow comedy that has made me a fan of his for life. Mr. Offerman loves the great outdoors and he takes us along as he travels through Glacier National Park with his famous buddies. Then we get to stream with Offerman and his wife (the fabulously hilarious Megan Mullaly) while they take their brand new Airsteam trailer, the Nutmeg, across the country to see both their families in Oklahoma and Illinois for Thanksgiving during a pandemic. I had the print version, but I gave it back to wait for the audio, and I’m so glad I did since it is read by the author. The great Ron Swanson reading me Nick Offerman’s latest masterpiece? Uh...yes please. I’d let him read me the phone book; you know, if they had phone books any more. 

If you need a break or just want something to listen to while you bake and decorate miles of cookies, you can’t go wrong with any of these.

Happy laughing…
:) Amanda

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Amanda is a classically-trained pianist who loves to read. Like any good librarian, she also has two cats named after Italian cities. Amanda spends her free time sitting in Nashville traffic, baking, and running the Interlibrary Loan office at the Nashville Public Library.