Comedy Break: The People Behind the Laughs

Published Wednesday, March 15, 2023

I selected these books because they give some insight into the creative process of comedians and the struggle of making art before you're even very good at it. The comedians in these books talk about what works and what doesn't, and they reminisce about their many failed attempts before having success. They are funny, sweet, and inspiring. - Kristi

Comedy Comedy Comedy Drama
by Bob Odenkirk

Bob writes in the same humorous tone that he speaks in throughout this lovely memoir. He dives into how he started out in comedy, his experiences with Del Close and The Second City, and how he experienced countless failures before ever experiencing any amount of success. This is a great book for anyone in comedy or the arts that wants to justify creating art and making absolutely no money at all off of it.

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Sick in the Head: Conversations About Life and Comedy
by Judd Apatow

In Apatow's book of interviews, he explores the relationship between comedians and their art, and how their art is an extension of their personal lives. Each comedian sits down and analyzes the process of creating comedy, what they believe works and what doesn't, and they discuss their personal experience coming up in the comedy world. This book is worth a read for anyone seeking biographical information and insights from the featured comedians.

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When You Are Engulfed In Flames
by David Sedaris

In this collection of essays, Sedaris takes us on a tour of his life with his partner, Hugh, his experiences living abroad in France and back home in the States, and of course dives into his childhood growing up as one of six children alongside his sister Amy Sedaris (a comedian known for creating Strangers With Candy alongside Stephen Colbert). David Sedaris' wit is at it's peak in this collection of essays, that are at times tragic, beautiful, and endearing.

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Born Standing Up: A Comic's Life
by Steve Martin

Martin recalls his childhood, growing up in California, and the span of his comedic career in this beautifully written memoir. From performing in empty clubs to eventually finding his comedic voice and performing for massive crowds - sometimes alongside his friend, Martin Short - this book is a joyful examination of a life well-lived.

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Art By Committee: An Advanced Guide to Improvisation
by Charna Halpern

In her sequel to Truth In Comedy, Halpern dives deeper into improvised comedy in interviews with Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Tim Meadows, members of The Reckoning (one of the longest performing Harold teams out of L.A.), and more. She also touches on the founding and creation of improv theaters in Chicago and what makes good improv. This book is worth checking out if you're interested in improv comedy.

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About the Author

Kristi is a circulation clerk who spends most of her free time crocheting and talking about comedy. A graduate and performer of the Improv Shop training center, she is quick to share a reel or a quote or a biography of a comedian if the conversation calls for it.