It’s been a day. I spent the hours from 9:00 to 5:00 being screamed at by baby boomers (#notallboomers) who still use AOL exclusively and wonder why I’m not literally Google. In my brief respite from that, I check into Twitter only to regret doing so immediately. My brain reels as I read the words “fake news” for the 3 bazillionth time and the fact that I even know the term “tender age shelters” leaves me with a crushing sense of despair. It’s mid-July. Although right wing, science-denying pundits tell me that climate change doesn’t exist, I find it odd that it went from frozen tundra in June to sweltering July-appropriate temperatures in the span of three days. My body, now unaccustomed to what summer heat feels like, pours itself into my sweltering car as I sigh out my knowledge of unarmed men of color being shot by the very people tasked with protecting them and melanin-deficient people calling the cops on children trying to have a childhood.
I need a release. And that release is funny-ass audiobooks by funny-ass ladies. I need that reminder that humor can be found in dire situations and that women have, the world over, adjusted to their experienced injustices by laughing in the face of their oppressors. For centuries we took to laughing with each other at your ridiculousness over fences, while you thought we were exchanging recipes for some vile casserole featuring the much-lauded cream of mushroom soup.
If you need an escape from the 7th circle of hell (we’re not yet at number nine, stay tuned) in which we currently live, even if it’s only for a 30 minute commute, here are a handful of hilarious-yet-honest books by some of the funniest and smartest women ever gifted to us by the heavens. And these selections get extra bonus points for being narrated by these funny ladies, only adding to this small blessing.
In So Close to Being the Sh*t, Y’all Don’t Even Know, Parks and Recreation star Retta takes us on her not-so-meteoric rise from roaches to riches (well, rich enough that she can buy $15,000 designer handbags yet scared enough to know she’s always a heartbeat away from ramen with American cheese).
Here, Aisha Tyler, comedian, actress, cohost of CBS’s The Talk, star of Archer, and creator of the top-ranked podcast Girl on Guy, serves up a spectacular collection of her own self-inflicted wounds. From almost setting herself on fire, to vomiting on a boy she liked, to getting drunk and sleeping through the SATs, to going into crushing debt to pay for college and then throwing away her degree to become a comedian, Aisha’s life has been a series of spectacularly epic fails. And she’s got the scars to prove it. Literally.
YOU CAN’T TOUCH MY HAIR: AND OTHER THINGS I STILL HAVE TO EXPLAIN BY PHOEBE ROBINSON
Being a black woman in America means contending with old prejudices and fresh absurdities every day. Comedian Phoebe Robinson has experienced her fair share over the years: She’s been unceremoniously relegated to the role of “the black friend,” as if she is somehow the authority on all things racial; she’s been questioned about her love of U2 and Billy Joel (“isn’t that…white people music?”); she’s been called “uppity” for having an opinion in the workplace; she’s been followed around stores by security guards; and yes, people do ask her whether they can touch her hair all. The. Time. Now she’s ready to take these topics to audio—and she’s going to make you laugh as she’s doing it.
ONE DAY WE’LL ALL BE DEAD AND NONE OF THIS WILL MATTER BY SCAACHI KOUL
In One Day We’ll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter, Scaachi Koul deploys her razor-sharp humor to share all the fears, outrages, and mortifying moments of her life. She learned from an early age what made her miserable, and for Scaachi anything can be cause for despair, whether it’s a shopping trip gone awry, enduring awkward conversations with her bikini waxer, overcoming her fear of flying while vacationing halfway around the world, dealing with Internet trolls, or navigating the fears and anxieties of her parents.
I’M JUDGING YOU: THE DO-BETTER MANUAL BY LUVVIE AJAYI
With over 500,000 readers a month at her enormously popular blog, AwesomelyLuvvie.com, Luvvie Ajayi is a go-to source for smart takes on pop culture. I’m Judging You is her debut book of humorous essays that dissects our cultural obsessions and calls out bad behavior in our increasingly digital, connected lives. It passes on lessons and side-eyes on life, social media, culture, and fame, from addressing those terrible friends we all have, to serious discussions of race and media representation, to what to do about your fool cousin sharing casket pictures from Grandma’s wake on Facebook.
FUNNY IN FARSI: A MEMOIR OF GROWING UP IRANIAN IN AMERICA BY FIROOZEH DUMAS
In a series of deftly drawn scenes Funny in Farsi chronicles the American journey of Dumas’ wonderfully engaging family: her engineer father, a sweetly quixotic dreamer who first sought riches on Bowling for Dollars and in Las Vegas; her elegant mother, who never fully mastered English (nor cared to); her uncle, who combated the effects of American fast food with an army of miraculous American weight-loss gadgets; and Firoozeh herself, who as a girl changed her name to Julie, and who encountered a second wave of culture shock when she met and married a Frenchman, becoming part of a one-couple melting pot.
WHY NOT ME? BY MINDY KALING
In Why Not Me? Kaling shares her ongoing journey to find contentment and excitement in her adult life, whether it’s falling in love at work, seeking new friendships in lonely places, attempting to be the first person in history to lose weight without any behavior modification whatsoever, or, most important, believing that you have a place in Hollywood when you’re constantly reminded that no one looks like you.
WELL, THAT ESCALATED QUICKLY: MEMOIRS AND MISTAKES OF AN ACCIDENTAL ACTIVIST BY FRANCHESCA RAMSEY
Well, That Escalated Quickly includes Ramsey’s advice on dealing with Internet trolls and low-key racists, confessions about being a former Online hater herself, and her personal hits and misses in activist debates with everyone from bigoted Facebook friends and misguided relatives to mainstream celebrities and YouTube influencers. With sharp humor and her trademark candor, Ramsey lets listeners know we can have tough conversations that move the dialogue forward, rather than backward, if we just approach them in the right way.
WE ARE NEVER MEETING IN REAL LIFE. : ESSAYS BY SAMANTHA IRBY
With We Are Never Meeting in Real Life., “bitches gotta eat” blogger and comedian Samantha Irby turns the serio-comic essay into an art form. Whether talking about how her difficult childhood has led to a problem in making “adult” budgets, explaining why she should be the new Bachelorette—she’s “35-ish, but could easily pass for 60-something”—detailing a disastrous pilgrimage-slash-romantic-vacation to Nashville to scatter her estranged father’s ashes, sharing awkward sexual encounters, or dispensing advice on how to navigate friendships with former drinking buddies who are now suburban moms—hang in there for the Costco loot—she’s as deft at poking fun at the ghosts of her past self as she is at capturing powerful emotional truths.
THE LAST BLACK UNICORN BY TIFFANY HADDISH
Tiffany can’t avoid being funny: It’s just who she is. But The Last Black Unicorn is so much more than a side-splittingly hilarious collection of essays—it’s a memoir of the struggles of one woman who came from nothing and nowhere. A woman who was able to achieve her dreams by reveling in her pain and awkwardness, showing the world who she really is, and inspiring others through the power of laughter.
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