Recently, #WomenWriteFunny was trending on Twitter. I was feeling a bit tired, looking at the tweets. It’s 2015 and we are still having a discussion about whether or not women are funny (note: they are). But then a few days later when the whole Libro team was together, we started talking about our favorite commediennes. Tina Fey! Amy Poehler! Maria Semple! Nothing brings one back to life like talking about books with friends.
The next day I relistened to Roxane Gay’s discussion of Bridesmaids from Bad Feminist, turned on some Amanda Palmer, and compiled this list. Maybe you won’t like everyone on this list, but there’s no such thing as one-size-fits-all humor. That’s what makes this list so great. Someone is bound to tickle your fancy.
When talking about women who write funny, Amy Poehler springs instantly to mind. But we daresay that the audiobook of Yes, Please is even funnier than the written work. Give the clip above a listen, where Poehler brings on a guest to read her memoir and reluctantly agrees to read it herself, as only she can.
Unvisited tombstones, unread diaries, and erased video game high-score rankings are three of the most potent symbols of mankind’s pathetic and fruitless attempts at immortality. Not to be negative.”
Sarah Silverman / The Bedwetter
The description page of The Bedwetter gives potential readers a little quiz to make sure that before picking up this audiobook, listeners aren’t, say, offended by “instructing one’s grandmother to place baked goods in her rectal cavity” or “Stripping naked in public—eleven times in a row.” Silverman, as ever, pushes boundaries to great effect.
And no, not all of the men whizzed in cups. But four or five of them out of twenty did, so the men have to own that one. Anytime there’s a bad female stand-up somewhere, some dickhead Interblogger will deduce that ‘women aren’t funny.’ Using that math, I can state that: Male comedy writers piss in cups.”
Tina Fey / Bossypants
Picking a favorite from this list is hard, but I have a feeling Tina Fey is probably most people’s go-to funny lady. She is at times witty, at others wacky, and always comes off as genuinely herself. Certainly she draws from her own life, which despite superstar status, is surprisingly relatable to people everywhere. Just see the above quote from Bossypants.
Semple’s wit is positively scathing—in the best way possible. As Seattleites, the Libro team laughed out loud to Where’d You Go, Bernadette’s critique of our five-way intersections, craftsman homes, and blackberry vines. While some parts are specific to Seattle, she also captures hypervigilant parenting, tech obsessions, and other universal truths of modern life. If an L.A. setting is more your thing, check out This One Is Mine.
. . . I still believe that above all things physical, it is more important to be beautiful on the inside—to have a big heart and an open mind and a spectacular spleen. (Actually, most people’s insides are disgusting. Even pretty people have very unattractive insides. Have you ever seen those surgery shows on Discovery? Not Pretty.)”
Ellen DeGeneres / Seriously . . . I’m Kidding
Of all the contemporary women we thought of when making this list, Ellen has been not only around the longest, but also has been the most consistently hilarious. The mere fact that we can just say “Ellen” and you know who we’re talking about says something. In Seriously . . . I’m Kidding, she comes off as effortlessly funny as she does on her show.
That ‘Girl Power’ has been the sole rival to the word feminism in the last 50 years is a cause for much sorrow on the behalf of women. After all, P. Diddy has had four different names and he’s just one man.”
Caitlin Moran / How to Be a Woman
Described as the British Tina Fey, Caitlin Moran has been killing it on the other side of the pond for more than two decades. How to Be a Woman is part self-deprecating memoir, part biting social commentary. How to Build a Girl is a fictional book, though based in part on Moran’s own life, about a teenaged girl who writes music reviews for magazine, described as “The Bell Jar written by Rizzo from Grease”.
Lisa Scottoline & Francesca Serritella
Two people as funny as Lisa Scottoline and Francesca Serritella in one family is a rare thing indeed. This mother-daughter duo slay in their co-written books of essays, Have a Nice Guilt Trip and Meet Me at Emotional Baggage Claim, as they bring their particular humor to everyday things such as jury duty and the Mission Impossible franchise.
I am no longer surprised at your knowing only six accomplished women. I rather wonder now at your knowing any.”
Jane Austen / Pride & Prejudice
The original woman writing funny. From the first lines of Pride & Prejudice, in which Austen lambasts marriage, to the burning lines of Northanger Abbey in which she lampoons posh vacationers in Bath, England, she is always poised with the perfect banter, description, or character. And yes, her characters’ romances all turn out for the best in the end, but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t get a few good jabs in at polite society along the way.
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