Stuck in the winter doldrums? Current events got you down? It's no coincidence that the Windy City is also home to The Second City, and happily, the Chicago Sketch Comedy Festival is coming up. Here are some top picks from our collection of comedy memoirs on audio to get you laughing.
In her funny and moving autobiography, Rabbit, comedian Ms. Pat (aka Patricia Williams) describes how she used laughter to survive the difficult circumstances of her childhood and adolescence in 1980s Atlanta. Through a combination of fierce intelligence, resilience and sheer force of will, Ms. Pat overcame childhood and domestic abuse, teenage pregnancy and time in prison to emerge smiling.
Born Standing Up is Steve Martin's concise, witty meditation on his life as a performer, which began with a childhood fascination with magic. Working at Disneyland, Martin learned to hone a live act, which led to comedy club performances and, eventually, to the heights of fame and its attendant pitfalls, including loneliness and depression. In his inimitable voice, Martin tells us that walking away from a successful stand-up career was an act of self-preservation.
Mindy Kaling, in Why Not Me?, describes her experience as a successful TV writer, creator and star of a popular television comedy, debunking a few myths along the way, including that of the effortlessly beautiful and successful woman. In a section detailing a typical 16-hour day, Kaling establishes that her success is the product of grueling work, among other intangibles like talent and perseverance. Kaling's voice is refreshing, original, and, in her refusal to be anyone other than herself, truly feminist.
Hometown girl Samantha Irby's hilarious collection of essays, We Are Never Meeting in Real Life, details growing up in Evanston with an alcoholic father, struggling with chronic illness, the challenges of being raised by older parents and other humiliations. Irby manages to make these difficulties seem at once ridiculous and relatable.
Which comedian helps you shrug off the winter blues?