A lot of books were released the last couple of years by comedians such as Amy Poehler, Amy Schumer, and other authors not named Amy. These books excited a reading public, specifically a public interested in comedy and humorous writing. In that spirit, here are some upcoming 2017 releases – by comedians and humorists – to put on your Amazon wish list. (Quoted descriptions are from Amazon.) Lincoln in the Bardo: A Novel by George Saunders – February 14 "George Saunders spins an unforgettable story of familial love and loss that breaks free of its realistic, historical framework into a supernatural realm both hilarious and terrifying. Willie Lincoln finds himself in a strange purgatory where ghosts mingle, gripe, commiserate, quarrel, and enact bizarre acts of penance. Within this transitional state—called, in the Tibetan tradition, the bardo—a monumental struggle erupts over young Willie’s soul."
Cheech Is Not My Real Name: ...But Don't Call Me Chong by Cheech Marin – March 14 "This insightful memoir delves into how Cheech dodged the draft, formed one of the most successful comedy duos of all time, became the face of the recreational drug movement with the film Up in Smoke, forged a successful solo career with roles in The Lion King and, more recently, Jane the Virgin, and became the owner of the most renowned collection of Chicano art in the world."
Thank You for Coming to Hattiesburg: One Comedian's Tour of Not-Quite-the-Biggest Cities in the World by Todd Barry – March 14 "Thank You For Coming to Hattiesburg is part tour diary, part travel guide, and part memoir. Follow me on my journey of small clubs, and the occasional big amphitheater. Watch me make a promoter clean the dressing room toilet in Connecticut, see me stare at beached turtles in Maui, and see how I react when Lars from Metallica shows up to see me at a rec center in Northern California."
Letterman: The Last Giant of Late Night by Jason Zinoman – April 11 "In a career spanning more than 30 years, David Letterman redefined the modern talk show with an ironic comic style that transcended traditional television. While he remains one of the most famous stars in America, he is a remote, even reclusive, figure whose career is widely misunderstood. In Letterman, Jason Zinoman, the first comedy critic in the history of the New York Times, mixes groundbreaking reporting with unprecedented access and probing critical analysis to explain the unique entertainer’s titanic legacy."
Last Man Standing: Mort Sahl and the Birth of Modern Comedy by James Curtis – May 1 "Here, for the first time, is the whole story of Mort Sahl, America’s iconoclastic father of modern stand-up comedy. Written with Sahl’s full cooperation and the participation of many of his friends and contemporaries, it delves deeply into the influences that shaped him, the heady times in which he soared, and the depths to which he fell during the turbulent 60s when he took on the Warren Commission and nearly paid for it with his livelihood."
Are You Anybody: A Memoir by Jeffrey Tambor – May 9 "Are You Anybody is Tambor's chance to discuss his creative process and immense accomplishments from a life lived onscreen. Drawing from his formative childhood years, in which he describes himself as a fat Hungarian-Jewish kid with a lisp and a depressive father to how he drew inspiration from his life to create ... characters, Tambor's memoir is funny, insightful, and uplifting, touching on comedy and the enduring chutzpah required to make it through life."
The United States of Absurdity: Untold Stories from American History by Dave Anthony, Gareth Reynolds, and Patton Oswalt (Foreword)– May 9 "From the creators of the comedy/history podcast The Dollop, The United States of Absurdity presents short, informative, and hilarious stories of the most outlandish (but true) people, events, and more from United States history. Comedians Dave Anthony and Gareth Reynolds cover the weird stories you didn't learn in history class, such as 10-Cent Beer Night, the Jackson Cheese, and the Kentucky Meat Shower, accompanied by full-page illustrations that bring each historical 'milestone' to life in full-color."
Al Franken, Giant of the Senate by Al Franken – May 30 "[This] book is about an unlikely campaign that had an even more improbable ending: the closest outcome in history and an unprecedented eight-month recount saga, which is pretty funny in retrospect. It's a book about what happens when the nation's foremost progressive satirist gets a chance to serve in the United States Senate and, defying the low expectations of the pundit class, actually turns out to be good at it."
Theft by Finding: Diaries (1977-2016) by David Sedaris – May 30 "Anyone who has attended a live Sedaris event knows that his diary readings are often among the most joyful parts of the evening. But never before have they been available in print. Now, in Theft by Finding, Sedaris brings us his favorite entries. From deeply poignant to laugh-out-loud funny, these selections reveal with new intimacy a man longtime readers only think they know."
The Best American Emails: Re: A Collection of the Finest Party Planning Threads, Accidental Reply Alls, and Pharma Spams by Amanda Meadows – June 6 "A collection of the greatest writing in the American literary canon: email correspondences. From the eerily foreboding chain letters forwarded from your aunt to the slyly persuasive emails of Russian black market pharmacists, we scoured your inbox for this satire of literary collections and flagged these threads as timeless gems."
The Girl in the Show: Three Generations of Comedy, Culture, and Feminism by Anna Fields – August 8 "The Girl in the Show provides an in-depth exploration of how comedy and feminism have grown hand in hand to give women a stronger voice in the ongoing fight for equality. From I Love Lucy to SNL to today’s rising cable and web-series stars, Anna Fields’ entertaining retrospective combines amusing and honest personal narratives with the historical, political, and cultural contexts of the feminist movement."
Not Quite a Genius by Nate Dern – August 8 "From the senior writer at Funny or Die and former artistic director at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater, a collection of absurdist, hilarious stories and essays on relationships, technology, and contemporary society. Anyone who’s ever scrunched their eyes at WiFi Terms & Conditions, listened to the reasons that led a vegetarian to give up meat, or looked on in horror at the evolving audacity of reality TV will appreciate Dern’s wicked and funny take on modern life."
The Improv: An Oral History of the Comedy Club that Revolutionized Stand-Up by Budd Friedman – September 5 "The Improv is an oral history of the most important comedy club in America, emceed by Budd Friedman himself, and featuring in-depth interviews with some of the most important names in comedy — including Jay Leno, Michael Keaton, Bill Maher, Larry David, Larry Miller, Jeff Garland, Jerry Stiller, Kevin Nealon, Gilbert Gottfried, Joe Piscopo, Tim Reid, Will Shriner, Roseanne Barr, Judd Apatow, Robert Klein, Richard Lewis, Leslie Moonves, Howie Mandel, Bill Engvall, Lily Tomlin, Rick Newman, Norman Lear, Billy Crystal, Alan Zweibel, Dick Cavett, Fred Willard, Jimmie Walker, David Steinberg, and many more!"
The Improv Handbook: The Ultimate Guide to Improvising in Comedy, Theatre, and Beyond (2nd edition) by Tom Salinsky - October 19 "First published in 2008, this second edition features a new foreword by comedian Mike McShane, as well as new exercises on endings, managing blind offers, and master-servant games, plus new and expanded interviews with Keith Johnstone, Neil Mullarkey, Jeffrey Sweet, and Paul Rogan."
Jason Hensel is a graduate of the DCH improv training program. He manages the DCH blog and performs with .f.a.c.e., the ’95 Bulls, and Bound Together.