Sunday, March 22, 2020

ARC Review: A Very Punchable Face by Colin Jost

A Very Punchable FaceFrom the blurb:

In these hilarious essays, the Saturday Night Live head writer and Weekend Update co-anchor learns how to take a beating.

If there's one trait that makes someone well suited to comedy, it's being able to take a punch--metaphorically and, occasionally, physically.

From growing up in a family of firefighters on Staten Island to commuting three hours a day to high school and "seeing the sights" (like watching a Russian woman throw a stroller off the back of a ferry), to attending Harvard while Facebook was created, Jost shares how he has navigated the world like a slightly smarter Forrest Gump.

You'll also discover things about Jost that will surprise and confuse you, like how Jimmy Buffett saved his life, how Czech teenagers attacked him with potato salad, how an insect laid eggs inside his legs, and how he competed in a twenty-five-man match at WrestleMania (and almost won). You'll go behind the scenes at SNL (where he's written some of the most memorable sketches and characters of the past fifteen years) and Weekend Update. And you'll experience the life of a touring stand-up comedian--from performing in rural college cafeterias at noon to opening for Dave Chappelle at Radio City Music Hall.

For every accomplishment (hosting the Emmys), there is a setback (hosting the Emmys). And for every absurd moment (watching paramedics give CPR to a raccoon), there is an honest, emotional one (recounting his mother's experience on the scene of the Twin Towers' collapse on 9/11). Told with a healthy dose of self-deprecation, A Very Punchable Face reveals the brilliant mind behind some of the dumbest sketches on television, and lays bare the heart and humor of a hardworking guy--with a face you can't help but want to punch.

Heather's rating:

I've read about a million comedian memoirs, and to be honest, they usually disappoint me. It is hard to be funny in book-form, and it's even harder to make a fairly drama-free upbringing sound remotely interesting. But Colin Jost made me laugh, like OUT LOUD, and I didn't even want to punch him in the face once! (Well, maybe a little, but that's just because I'm a very wimpy puncher and his face is just so punchable!)

I truly picked this book up with the most middling of expectations. Maybe one or two other comedian memoirs have really impressed me, and I didn't think that a white guy from a good family with a Harvard education could be that entertaining. Yes, I enjoy Colin Jost on SNL, but I've enjoyed other comedian's work and hated their too-earnest and painfully unfunny books.

But, holy crap, this book was just so great. I mean, if you have my sense of humor and you find stories about pooping your pants, getting drunk and vomiting random places, and having a harrowing edible experience to be hilarious. And, to be honest, haven't we all done those thing? If you haven't, we are possibly not friend-compatible...

The book isn't all stuff that sounds dumb and juvenile (but, I swear, those things are funny in a way that isn't just "drunk white guy"-funny). There are serious topics too, like the way Colin Jost's mother was deeply involved in saving dozens of lives during 9/11, working tirelessly on the scene as as chief medical officer for the New York City Fire Department. I also really enjoyed the peak into the insane work ethic that Colin has that took him to Regis (fancy) for high school and Harvard for college.

But what really makes this book is Colin's skill as a comedic writer. Colin knows how to tell a story and make it funny. That's so difficult to do, and Colin makes his story feel like you are talking with your neurotic, hilarious friend from childhood who likes to hide in trees when drunk and injure himself way more than you think normal for a man of his age (and, no, Colin isn't always drunk, just... well, yeah, he does talk about drinking a lot).

I did NOT want to put this book down. I have this rubric of book-ratings that I mentally go through when I'm reading a story, and if a book makes me want to read it while driving because it's that addictive, then it's an automatic 5-stars. And, no, I didn't read it while driving, but I did longingly look at my Kindle at stop lights.

It's hard to describe exactly why I loved this book so much, but I have to chalk it up to a combo of masterful comedy writing, a well-organized and edited book, and stories that I could personally relate to (doctor parent, happy childhood, good education... and definitely not the crapping your pants or edibles stories. I'm waaaay classier than that). And, yes, Scarlett Johansson fans, we get a very minor peek at their relationship and why she and Colin Jost are most likely wanted by the Paris police.

Wholeheartedly recommended for SNL fans and also people who just like funny stories. Colin Jost knocked this one out of the park.

*Copy provided in exchange for an honest review*

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Happy reading!

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