Thought Catalog
January 22, 2014

15 Must-Read Books To Satisfy Your Inner Comedy Nerd

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What is the issue?

I don’t like the phrase “comedy nerd.” I think it’s impossibly specific, meant to target 4 kids who only talk amongst themselves because nobody else in the improv class appreciates stuff Ricky Gervais was in before Ricky Gervais was Ricky Gervais.

Alas, it seemed like a good identifier for this particular list-thingy, given that it seems thoroughly plausible that if you clicked on this piece, part of your brain wishes to live in the fantasy above. I think there’s a part of all of us that does:

1. Hollywood Causes Cancer: The Tom Green Story – Tom Green

To be real, the only reason I made this list in the first place is so I could recommend this book to as many people as possible without having to be a tool amongst my friends and overpromote it 70 times too many.

I’m halfway through this book, and thus far it’s one of the better books I’ve ever read. Tom Green is a great writer with a great story, and that’s a tough formula to beat.

2. I Killed: True Stories of the Road from America’s Top Comics – Marc Schiff & Ritch Shydner

Two lifelong comedians collected hundreds of ridiculous stories from some of the world’s most prolific comedians. There are a handful of stories that involve close brushes with death, but perhaps my favorite one is Daniel Tosh’s story about  nearly dying in a car chase. Some crazy stuff in here.

3. Are You There Vodka? It’s Me, Chelsea – Chelsea Handler

I used to work at a beach, in which I spent days on end sitting in a room trying to keep myself occupied. One particularly slow day, I noticed this lying around and picked it up. The rest of the day was spent trying not to be the annoying person laughing at loud at the book he was reading.

4. Kick Me: Adventures in Adolescence: Paul Feig

Paul Feig has established a nice niche as a bigger-budget comedy director, making recent splashes with Bridesmaids and The Heat. But about a decade before all that, Feig created the now-immortal show called Freaks and Geeks.

If you’re a fan of Freaks, this (a. will place the show into a sensible context, and (b. be a highly enjoyable read.

5. Born Standing Up: A Comic’s Life  – Steve Martin

This is often considered the quintessential book about standup comedy. And for good reason; Martin takes through all the highs and lows of a career you probably never knew he had.

6. Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? And Other Concerns: Mindy Kaling

There is a lot in here. It’s an addicting read captures something that’s remarkably individual, yet inherently zeitgeisty. This probably isn’t the first time you’ve heard about this.

7. Dad Is Fat – Jim Gaffigan

More than anything, Dad Is Fat will make you wonder how the hell Jim Gaffigan has time to do anything but pick his kids up from school. It’s one of the more interesting reads in the comedy game, which doubles as an absurdist yet insightful book on parenting.

8. SeinLanguage – Jerry Seinfeld

Jerry’s voice radiates nicely through this book, and he touches on some very Seinfeld-like topics. Observational comedy at it’s finest.

9. Sh*t My Dad Says – Justin Halpern

Justin’s Halpern’s dad is one funny dude. Justin Halpern is also a very talented writer, who’s been able to turn the success of his book into an actual, prolonged Hollywood career. Worth a read for sure.

10. What I’d Say To The Martians – And Other Veiled Threats

Jack Handey is considered the master of the one-liner. If you’ve ever listened to the contemporary standup one-liner king, Anthony Jeselnik, he’ll go more than out of his way to note how big of an influence Jack Handey was in his development as a writer/standup. This book is formatted like his classic “deep thoughts” titles, and packs just as heavy a gut-punch.

11. Zombie Spaceship Wasteland – Patton Oswalt

Patton Oswalt’s outrageous take on the world is on full blast here, in an adventure of the book that explains Oswalt’s worldview via the ridiculous vehicles by which he’s built his comedy around. Wildly elaborate, and impressively executed.

12. The Last Girlfriend On Earth – Simon Rich

Simon Rich has been called “The Funniest Man In America,” and for good reason: the youngest ever SNL writer has had a rather prolific career thus far, and is currently set to be the showrunner of an FX comedy “Man Seeking Woman,” which is based on this very book.

13. Attempting Normal – Marc Maron

Maron is the king of self-loathing, and his book is a great mix of his talents. It’s funny, incredibly deep, and overall rewardingly exhausting.  Maron’s work in general has really made me realize that I am little more than a shitball 23 year-old who knows very little of life. He’s the bitter, insightful uncle we all need.

14. This Is A Book – Demetri Martin

Demetri Martin has a mind unlike any other, which is made clear through one of this two rollicking forays into book-writing. There’s a story in here called “Socrates Publicist” which I have spent the past 18 months or so talking up to anyone who will listen. In that regard, Martin is as good as I am annoying.

15. Tina Fey – Bossypants

This made a good deal of money. Sometimes, things that make a good deal money aren’t exactly considered artistic feats. Pretty much all all the time, they aren’t funny as Tina Fey’s book. TC mark

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