Comedians by nature are born storytellers and many start their careers at improv theatres like Second City or Theatre Sports. One of the key principles of improv is the “Yes and” rule, so this fall I encourage you to say “yes” or perhaps “Yes Please” to memoirs from four very funny people.
I had trouble accepting that Andrea Martin is not Canadian, but she does dedicate Lady Parts to Canada “where it all began.” Martin was an original cast member on the hit sketch comedy series SCTV where she mastered impressions and created a collection of outrageous and perfectly-over-the-top characters like Edith Prickley and Edna Boil. Lady Parts is a collection of essays that is one part hilarious, and two parts poignantly human. She reveals her struggles with bulimia and anxiety, and reflects on motherhood, showbiz, dating, not dating, and “some things [she] thinks about but [doesn’t] say out loud.” She has been influential to a generation of female comedians, like Amy Poehler and Tina Fey, and this book is sure to inspire all readers to say yes.
I am an absolute sucker for the “slow and weird” of Canadian sketch comedy and Kids in the Hall has a particularly special place in my heart. In Let’s Start a Riot: How a Young Drunk Punk Became a Hollywood Dad, Bruce McCulloch is back with his signature, brilliantly bizarre sense of humour making it my favourite memoir of the fall season. McCulloch tells laugh out loud stories of being a young drunk punk in Alberta to your average pajama-clad, slightly embarrassing, martini-drinking dad living in a starter mansion in L.A. Through his unparalleled and often poetic wit, McCulloch reveals how comedy can bring light to darker, and perhaps drunker, times.
“People always say humour helps to avoid the dark things life. I think it’s the opposite. Humour helps us understand and partner with the sadness and beauty of life. And sometimes, because we’re bathed in laughter, we are protected. Or at least, humour can help us see the world differently”
Bruce McCulloch, Let’s Start a Riot
Martin Short’s I Must Say is a journey into a golden age of comedy marked by the beginning of SCTV and SNL. It features some impressive cameos from Andrea Martin, Gilda Radner, Steve Martin and Tom Hanks to a rather awkward encounter with his childhood idol, Frank Sinatra. In this memoir, Short perfectly characterizes Canadian comedy as “more character based and just plain strange” and speaks to the inspirations for his many gloriously eccentric characters like Ed Grimley and Irving Cohen. Although it contains funny stories from his past, this memoir is not outwardly funny. It is both honest and heartbreaking as Short opens up about the death of his eldest brother, his parents, and his beloved wife of thirty years, Nancy Dolman. Much like McCulloch, Short reveals his unwavering creativity, a nine-step philosophy to life, and the healing power of comedy. On sale today!
Amy Poehler may not be Canadian (although I’m sure Canada would love to adopt her), but much like the other comedians on our list Poehler began her career studying improv at Second City and Improv Olympic. When Yes Please arrived on my desk last Tuesday, I felt like I was being handed the holy grail of comedy memoirs (and yes, I may have cried while reading it on the bus). In this collection of stories, Poehler reinforces that she is an absolutely hilarious, hardworking, and lovely human who encourages readers to say whatever they want, do whatever they like, and be whoever they are. Last week we shared “15 Reasons Why We Love Amy Poehler” and Yes Please is sure to give you yet another reason to absolutely love her. Click here to watch Amy Poehler and Rachel Dratch on Jimmy Fallon!
So now, I recommend saying “Yes” to these comedic memoirs “and” remember to take the occasional reading break to watch some of these fantastic characters in action. Note: Since we are following the rules of improv, readers that say “no” may or may not have to perform “the monkey dance” (see Yes Please for details).
Have a great week with many laughs!
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