Comedy Memoirs You Should Listen To Right Now

By Sulagna Misra

What sometimes happens with audiobooks is that your preference will be different from your regular novel reading. Sometimes people too shy to read romance novels might find listening more fun, and sometimes we are simply more likely to absorb that giant non-fiction bestseller about history or economics or globalization if we hear it.

But comedy memoirs tend to be a bit special. Odds are, if you like the comedian, you’ll love the audiobook of their memoir – mostly because they read it. Or rather, they won’t just read it – they’ll perform it, and, since it’s a memoir, it’s the story they were quite literally born to perform. Here are our recommendations, based on three things: how much they can make you laugh; how good the stories are; and how much we enjoyed having the person’s voice in our ear for a few hours.

Photo courtesy of HBO

Photo courtesy of HBO

1. Rob Delaney: Mother. Wife. Sister. Human. Warrior. Falcon. Yardstick. Turban. Cabbage. By Rob Delaney

Most people know Delaney from either his very funny romantic sitcom Catastrophe, which he created with fellow comedian Sharon Horgan, his very funny standup, or the fact that he was one of the first comedians on Twitter. Whether he’s talking about his troubles with alcohol addiction or a dumb late night college boat ride that ends terribly, he writes and reads like he doesn’t even know what’s going to happen next. You’ll find yourself with tears in your eyes or suddenly letting out a breath you didn't even realize you were holding.

2. Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? and Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling

Mindy Kaling has a voice that she herself says should belong to “a cartoon mouse.” And it’s kind of hard to argue with, until you listen to her memoirs – then it becomes the voice of a very familiar friend, the kind that comes up with all sorts of categorizations for your frenemies and ex’s that help you laugh through the pain. In both books, B.J. Novak, her definitely not-boyfriend, writes and reads a chapter, while Michael Schur appears in her first book and Greg Daniels appears in the latter.

3. Bossypants by Tina Fey

Tina Fey’s bestselling Bossypants was amazing, but there’s a reason she normally writes sketch comedy and TV shows rather than books – her writing seems more natural performed than read silently. Another feature is the jazzy music throughout, no doubt composed by her husband in the same way he does on her shows.

4. Yes Please by Amy Poehler

In her memoir, Amy goes from silly to dramatic to bittersweet in the span of a sentence. She throws in a bevy of voices for her past selves and the characters that populate her stories, but familiar voices like Michael Schur and Seth Myers and Patrick Stewart also show up. Amy particularly bubbly and raspy voice has always been perfectly mercurial for the variety of characters she’s played in improv shows, on Saturday Night Live, and throughout her filmography – she even reads one chapter in front of Upright Citizens’ Brigade Theater, the house of the improv program she helped create.

5. Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris

David Sedaris is well known on the comedy memoir circuit, but his voice adds another dimension to his writing. He has an arch, deadpan tone that lets you know exactly how ridiculous whatever story from his past he’s telling.

6. Happy Accidents by Jane Lynch

Lynch’s whole memoir is prefaced and based on the idea that her life is full of lucky coincidences and missteps that her to that point. Her writing and voice are warm – warmer than any of her sarcastic oddball characters from shows like Party Down and Glee, or movies like The 40 Year Old Virgin and Best In Show would have you believe.

7. Dad Is Fat by Jim Gaffigan

In contrast, while Gaffigan’s memoir hews pretty closely to his stand-up, the book form means he gets to take his time a bit more. He waxes on about parenting, his children, children in general like a man relaying an anthropological study – which makes sense, considering he’s got five kids, and thus a much larger sample size than most of us.  

8. Self-Inflicted Wounds: Heartwarming Tales of Epic Humiliation by Aisha Tyler

Aisha Tyler might be best known as the constantly put-upon voice of Lana Kane in Archer. Here, her distinctive voice is more ruthlessly upbeat, even as it tells tales of humiliation, shame, and kiiiiind of terrifying actual body wounds.

Aisha Tyler -- photo courtesy of Wired

Aisha Tyler -- photo courtesy of Wired

9. Wishful Drinking, Shockaholic, and The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher

First: Carrie Fisher was a treasure, and I miss her. You might know her best playing Princess Leia in the first Star Wars trilogy but her memoirs are more in tune with General Leia in the newest Star Wars trilogy. And thank God she wrote and read her memoirs, which are full of weird, amazing, lurid, and funny stories about growing up famous, bipolar, and being in one of the biggest movie franchises of all time.

10. Bedwetter: Stories of Courage, Redemption, and Pee by Sarah Silverman

Taking it full circle, Delaney actually thanks Sarah Silverman in his book because she helped him realize that he could write about real stories, not just tell a book chockfull of jokes. This mainly means both of them write and read stories about therapy, their childhood and adolescence, and have huge long detailed reminiscences about bedwetting. Clearly, if you want to write a funny memoir, you need to have been a bedwetter at some point in your life.