Girl Walks into a Bar Comedy Calamities, Dating Disasters, and a Midlife Miracle By Rachel Dratch, Gotham, 246 pages, $27.50
Let’s Pretend This Never Happened A Mostly True Memoir By Jenny Lawson (The Bloggess), Amy Einhorn/Putnam, 316 pages, $27.50
Kasher in the Rye The True Tale of a White Boy From Oakland Who Became a Drug Addict, Criminal, Mental Patient, and Then Turned 16 By Moshe Kasher, Grand Central, 301 pages, $27.99
Comedy memoirs have been on a steady upturn ever since Tina Fey put on her Bossypants last year, and now a new trio of slightly self-indulgent, often hilarious and occasionally dark authors are getting in on the autobiographical action. You’ll laugh, you’ll cringe and you probably won’t want your kid to grow up in Oakland. Courtney Shea deconstructs a trio of funny first-person non-fiction below.
THE UNLIKELY HERO
Rachel Dratch: People-pleasing, self-effacing Saturday Night Live alumna
Jenny Lawson: Outdoorsy, social-anxiety-ridden blogger
Moshe Kasher: Sarcastic, honorary deaf, former druggie
THE INCREDIBLE JOURNEY
Girl Walks into a Bar: Dratch chronicles her career trajectory from aspiring improv actress to successful SNL cast member to fired 30 Rock cast member to barely employable “bull-dyke” to unexpected 43-year-old baby mama.
Let’s Pretend This Never Happened: Lawson takes readers from her hugely humble beginnings as the daughter of a crazed-but-kind-hearted taxidermist (waking up to a dead animal in her bed was a regular occurrence) to her present day as a wife, mother, blogger, farmer and frequent lunatic.
Kasher in the Rye: Kasher reflects on his life as the son of two deaf parents (his dad was also an Orthodox Jew) and the sense of not fitting in that led him to drugs, crime and (finally) rehab – all before he was old enough to drive.
THE LOVE/HATE RELATIONSHIP
Dratch: Hollywood. She loves working, but hates the looks-obsessed industry that will only cast her as the best friend, the secretary, the butch or the butchy BFF secretary.
Lawson: Taxidermy. As a child she feared the random critters that her dad would kill and stuff in the yard. As an adult, she compulsively collects random, stuffed beasts.
Kasher: Judaism. Struggles to find common ground with his Orthodox father, but eventually comes to value cultural traditions such as sitting shiva and reject others such as payot (traditional side curls).
Dratch: The Big Apple. For years, her no-strings-attached, nights-on-the-town social life makes her seem like a fifth member of the Sex and the City quartet (mostly minus the sex).
Lawson: Rural Texas. The first part of her life story takes place in Wall, “a tiny town of dirt.” Later, it’s the vulture-friendly farmlands outside of Austin.
Kasher: The wrong side of the tracks. Specifically, the seriously mean and unchaperoned streets of mid-1990s Oakland.
THE STAR FACTOR
Dratch: Loads of interesting behind-the-scenes tidbits about SNL and cast members (Seth Meyers is adorable, Tracy Morgan throws the craziest parties, Amy Poehler is the coolest woman alive).
Lawson: Calls Angelina Jolie an anti-Semite. She’s kidding. You had to be there.
Kasher: Names chapters after lines by favourite hip-hop artists, such as Biggie Smalls, Snoop Dog and Dr. Dre.
THE SEMI-DISTURBING PEARL OF WISDOM
Dratch: “Bring wipes [to Burning Man] The desert can give you that not-so-fresh feeling.”
Lawson: “If you need an arm condom, it may be time to re-evaluate your life choices.”
Kasher: “If your drug dealer does an intervention on you, you know you’re in a bad place.”
Dratch: PG (light swearing).
Lawson: AA (obsessive use of the word vagina).
Kasher: R (drug use, sex and instructions on how to steal pot from a hippie).
THE MORAL OF THE STORY
Dratch: Being a mom is better than being a movie star, so who cares if Hollywood spat you out?
Lawson: We will all turn into our parents (even if our parents boil skulls in the backyard).
Kasher: True happiness is about being brave enough not to fit in. Don’t steal pot from hippies.