I’ve had quite a few heavy reads back-to-back lately, and when that happens, I always like to throw something light in there just to break the tension. Funny memoirs are just the ticket – especially when I can get the audiobook on libro.fm, and hear the author tell their own hilarious stories. If you ever find your funny bone in need of a tickle, I highly recommend these fifteen funny memoirs.
Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris
David Sedaris is the undisputed king of funny memoirs. Me Talk Pretty One Day is my favourite, but literally all of them have me rolling in the aisles and literal lol-ing (even in public, even in circumstances where I really shouldn’t be laughing). Sedaris can make just about anything funny: having a tumour removed, fighting with his family, fucking up the French language, shopping for antiques, getting speech therapy… These essays are ones you’ll return to time and again whenever you need a chuckle. Read my full review of Me Talk Pretty One Day here.
Wow, No Thank You by Samantha Irby
If the title doesn’t tip you off, Wow, No Thank You is one of Samantha Irby’s best funny memoirs. She rose to prominence with her frank-talking blog (Bitches Gotta Eat), but I maintain that the book format is the best to truly appreciate her humour. There’s something about the juxtaposition of her no-holds-barred description of her life as an “increasingly uncomfortable” forty-something and the formalised print of a book that just elevates it, somehow. Pick this one up when you’re in the mood for relatable and hilarious chat over a glass of wine. Read my full review of Wow, No Thank You here.
Shrill by Lindy West
Ostensibly, Shrill shouldn’t belong in a list of funny memoirs. Lindy West had a painful childhood as a shy, fat girl. For a while there, her hobby was dressing down male comedians who made rape jokes. She writes about her visit to an abortion clinic, dealing with internet trolls, and the indignities of existing as a fat woman in a world designed for thin people. And yet, this feminist rallying cry is laugh-out-loud hilarious! West will show you that it is possible to weather life’s bullshit with a gleam in your eye, and raise a few smiles yourself while you’re at it.
Wishful Drinking by Carrie Fisher
The world truly lost one of its best people with the passing of Carrie Fisher. She’s written so many funny memoirs, you can really take your pick from her oeuvre – but Wishful Drinking is a stand-out. This is the book to read when your hanxiety has you curled up under the covers, convinced that everybody hates you. With her trademark radical vulnerability, Fisher describes her battle with addiction(s), including periods of institutionalisation and tragic loss. It hardly sounds like a laugh a minute, but if you know anything about Fisher, you’ll know that she can find the funny.
Talking As Fast As I Can by Lauren Graham
How about, instead of queuing up your eighteenth Netflix binge of Gilmore Girls, you turn to one of the funny memoirs written by its star? Talking As Fast As I Can is the delicious and delightful inside scoop on playing Lorelai Gilmore, being a woman in Hollywood, and wondering whether you’ve actually “made it”. It turns out Lauren Graham’s comedic chops aren’t just for the small screen; they translate beautifully to the page. Her humour is punctuated with endless fun facts and behind-the-scenes tid-bits that will have you saying “did you know…?” every time someone mentions her iconic show.
Dry by Augusten Burroughs
Augusten Burroughs is definitely better known for Running With Scissors, his account of his highly unusual upbringing – but it turns out he’s lived a lot of life beyond surviving adolescence with questionable parental supervision (to say the least). And, great news for fans of funny memoirs, he doesn’t hesitate to turn his later life experiences into fodder. Dry is the story of how he clawed his way out of addiction in employer-mandated rehab, and how he managed his newfound sobriety in the whirling dervish of Manhattan life. As much as it’s an informative and insightful read, it’s his descriptions of life inside the dismal rehab facility that really shine.
The Family Law by Benjamin Law
Australian author and journalist Benjamin Law grew up in 1980s Queensland, the son of immigrants from Hong Kong in the heartland of support for the White Australia policy. It could have made him bitter, or caused his family to splinter, but instead he’s written The Family Law, one of the rare funny memoirs about race and identity. The through line is family connection, the love between siblings and parents, forged in the fire of being the only Asians on the mostly-white Sunshine Coast. The humour is self-deprecating, colourful, occasionally scatalogical, and uniquely Australian. Read my full review of The Family Law here.
My Mess Is A Bit Of A Life by Georgia Pritchett
The title of this funny memoir comes from Georgia Pritchett’s halting confession to a therapist: My Mess Is A Bit Of A Life. The verbal slip perfectly encapsulates this collection of “gloriously funny vignettes” about learning to live, even thrive, with anxiety. Pritchett’s series of short, sharp anecdotes are like particularly hilarious and insightful contributions to a conversation over cocktails. She doesn’t shy away from the highs or the lows of life when everything you feel is turned up to eleven. Her deadpan delivery of critical reviews she has received in her career is a particular delight. Read my full review of My Mess Is A Bit Of A Life here.
Paris Match by John Von Southen
The American-man-abroad (and specifically the American-man-in-Paris) memoir is well-trod ground, to say the least. John Von Sothen entered a pretty saturated market with Paris Match. The good news is he lives up to his predecessors with a perfectly serviceable funny memoir about trying to adapt to Parisian life as a born-and-bred American. He struggles to assimilate, but he turns those struggles into (mostly) hilarious anecdotes and insights for our enjoyment. Keep an eye out for Wesh We Can, a chapter about his fumbling attempts to communicate – sure to have you in snort-laughing stitches. Read my full review of Paris Match here.
Remainders Of The Day by Shaun Bythell
Shaun Bythell has been running a Wigtown bookshop for twenty years now, and Remainders Of The Day is the third installment of his series of funny memoirs about day-to-day life as a bookseller. It’s comedy of the cozy kind, with brilliant moments of sensational snark. “Spotted Bum-Bag Dave shuffling onto the bus to Newtown Stewart as I was closing up,” Bythell writes of a local ‘colourful character’ at one point. “He hasn’t set foot in the shop for quite a while. I think I may have offended him. I certainly hope so.” It’s a delightfully easy read that will bring you chuckles galore. Read my full review of Remainders Of The Day here.
How To Be A Woman by Caitlin Moran
Caitlin Moran is a genius. She somehow intuited that, in order to make her provocative insights about feminism and the current state of gender roles palatable, she needed to share outrageous and hilarious observations to illustrate and illuminate what she’s talking about. The laughs in How To Be A Woman are the spoonful of sugar that helps the medicine go down. This is one of the funny memoirs that jump-started the contemporary conversation about feminism: what it means, what it should address, and whether any issue faced by women is truly “too small” for consideration.
Fun Home by Alison Bechdel
If you’ve ever used the concept of the Bechdel Test without knowing where it comes from, you’ve got some reading to do! Fun Home isn’t as light hearted as some of the funny memoirs on this list – it’s billed as a “family tragicomic” – but it’s still an essential inclusion if only for its impact. It’s a graphic novel depicting Bechdel’s fraught relationship with her father, and how their respective sexualities and shame around them unknowingly defined their bond. It’s sharp, it’s smart, it’s heartbreaking, and it’s hilarious – all in one.
I Feel Bad About My Neck by Nora Ephron
Nora Ephron is one of the most underrated literary geniuses of the 20th century. Be it her romantic comedy films, her brilliantly witty novels, or her incredibly funny memoirs, everything she wrote was genius and it’s a crying shame that she’s not more widely recognised as such. I Feel Bad About My Neck is a canonical book (or, at least, it should be) about womanhood, domestic life, and aging. Ephron articulates the deeply held fears and horrid truths that we don’t often dare speak aloud, all the while making us laugh and holding our hand.
We’re Going To Need More Wine by Gabrielle Union
Gabrielle Union describes We’re Going To Need More Wine, the first of her funny memoirs, as a book about “the good, the bad, and the WTF” of her life as an actress and activist. With chapters including Sex Miseducation, On Mean Women and Good Dogs, and Warning: Famous Vaginas Get Itchy Too, she certainly isn’t backwards in coming forwards about subjects that make most of us look over our shoulders to check who’s listening. Read this one with a bottle of your favourite libation, and enjoy the feeling of your bestie giving you the giggles. Read my full review of We’re Going To Need More Wine here.
Everything I Know About Love by Dolly Alderton
Looking for a contemporary Bridget Jones’s Diary? Try Everything I Know About Love, a funny memoir that brings all the comedy of the iconic ’90s best-seller with the added benefit of being both current and true. Dolly Alderton has navigated the choppy waters of young adulthood, from disastrous dates to fast friends to just-for-the-rent jobs, while keeping a weather eye out for anything about it that could make us laugh. Whether you find it perplexing or relatable, this is a brilliant window into coming-of-age in the 21st century that’s sure to make you laugh.