So this could probably be a bigger collection than the three books listed here, but let’s talk about three of my favorite funny women. They have online content, but my favorite work from all of them comes in the form of essay collections. These are all books that I have in print for myself, so I can revisit them whenever, but the best way to consume them the first time around is definitely via audiobook. They each read their books themselves, so you get every bit of humor, every inside joke, like you’re hanging out with a friend who is telling you all these wild stories. And sometimes, you get a little bit extra with the audio, that doesn’t happen in the print version. But you’ll have to find those bits for yourself.
I’ll also note that all three of these books are by Black women, but they’re from all walks of life that happen to intersect in comedy. So they’re Black, and they’re Funny, and anybody can get something great out of listening to them. So check them out!
I had every intention of reading Samantha Irby after coming across her second collection of essays, We Are Never Meeting In Real Life, thanks to the adorable animal on the cover. That one sat on my shelf, and then her first book, Meaty, did as well. I was totally interested in her experience as a writer and chronically ill, fat Black woman, but just didn’t get around to her books. And then I got Wow, No Thank You on audio and my life was changed. Hearing Irby tell me these stories herself (as opposed to using a narrator, as some other essayists might do) made all the difference in my experiencing her work. When I had to give WNTY back to the library, I went and listened to Meaty just to keep my connection with her going, and then was able to finish the green one later on.
Irby has a great sense for storytelling, and can tell you about her own life experiences, including issues with her physical and mental health, dating and sex life, family trauma, and work life, on top of commentary on life as we know it, including popular culture, literature, and politics. And while there is plenty that is very serious, even some of the harder topics are discussed in an accessible and oftentimes hilarious manner.
Once upon a time, I was a volunteer judge for the Audie awards, and while I spent a LOT of time listening to books at 2x speed so I could just get through them, I found myself listening to this one at any chance I could get. From the introduction, I was hooked by Phoebe Robinson’s way of telling a story, her point of view, and honestly, her voice. I loved listening to her tell me about anything, and just wanted to be her best friend so I could hear more amazing stories all the time. Her two books since then, Everything’s Trash, But It’s Okay and Please Don’t Sit On My Bed In Your Outside Clothes, have been just as wonderful and hilarious, and—much like Samantha Irby’s books—cover topics that are light and more serious in an equally funny tone. Whether it’s about race, professional sports, or stereotypes, her blunt and casual hilariousness makes her able to balance humor and Serious Talk perfectly. I had never heard of 2 Dope Queens before picking up You Can’t Touch My Hair, but I’m glad it led Phoebe to my world.
Michelle Buteau is the one of these three authors who I knew before I knew about her book. I’d seen some segments of her stand-up comedy and enjoyed her roles in films like Always Be My Maybe, and I was delighted to discover that she’d written a memoir. This one, unlike the other two, is much more memoir-y and less essay-y, and covers some heavy moments in her life, like working news in New York City in September of 2011, issues with pregnancy and miscarriage, and living abroad. But she tells these stories with heart and light, and then turns around to reflect on something more humorous. She deserves the world and I hope more people get to bask in her light soon!
Okay, I kind of cheated when it comes to three, but check these books out anyway! And feel free to check out more humor books, opens a new window!