Category Archives: Comedy

Literature to make you laugh

The best comedic books in 2019…so far

This month we’re working on broadening our horizons and with the Melbourne International Comedy Festival in full swing we are going to start by diving into comedy and see how it teaches us about our lives and sheds light on the human psyche.

Let’s dive in…

I can’t remember the title but the cover is blue by Elias Greig

As any retail or service worker will tell you, customers can be irrational, demanding, abusive, and brain-scramblingly, mind-bendingly strange. They can also be kind, thoughtful, funny, and full of pathos. Something about the often-fraught interaction between customer and worker – with the dividing line of the counter between them, and the commercial imperative, with its curious etiquette and toleration of all kinds of suspect behaviour brooding above – dims down certain inhibitions, and has a kind of hot-house effect on eccentricity. In I Can’t Remember the Title But the Cover is Blue, veteran bookseller Elias Greig collects the best, worst and most interesting customer encounters from his years at Berkelouw Balgowlah. From ill-behaved children to nostalgia seniors and everything in between, this hilarious and unpredictable book is the perfect gift for anyone who’s ever been on the wrong side of a store counter.

The book of the year 2018 by No Such Thing As A Fish

In a year dominated by Russian collusion and Brexit confusion, The Book of the Year returns with another dose of barely believable yet wholly unimpeachable facts and stories from the past twelve months. Every week for the past four years, Dan, James, Anna and Andy – the creators of the award-winning, chart-topping comedy podcast No Such Thing As A Fish – have wowed each other and millions of their listeners with the most astonishing trivia they have learned over the previous seven days. Now, once again, they have put down the microphones, picked up their pencils, and transformed a year’s worth of weird and wonderful happenings into one uplifting book that you won’t be able to put down. Discover how Peruvian mummies affected the World Cup, and why Love Island contestants are experts in game theory – as well as hundreds of stories that may have passed you by entirely, including the news that:
– NASA sent a man with a fear of heights to the International Space Station.
– An ice hotel in Canada caught fire.
– Mark Zuckerberg’s private data was compromised while he was talking to Congress about compromised data.
From Kim Jong Un’s personal potty to Jeremy Corbyn’s valuable vegetables, The Book of the Year 2018 is an eye-opening tour of yet another incredible year you didn’t know you’d lived through.

I built no schools in Kenya by Kirsten Drysdale

In September 2010, Kirsten Drysdale was tricked. Her friend called with a job offer too curious to refuse; a cruisey-gig as a dementia carer for a rich old man in Kenya. All expenses-paid, plenty of free time to travel or do some freelance reporting. There seemed no good reason to say no so she got on a plane. Only Kirsten’s friend hadn’t given her the full story. It was only on arrival in Nairobi that she discovered the rich old man’s family was fighting a war around him, and that she would be on the front line. Caught in the crossfire of all kinds of wild accusations, she also had to spy on his wife, keep his daughter placated, rebuff his marriage proposals, hide the car keys and clip his toenails, all while trying to retain her own sanity in the colonial time warp of his home. Meanwhile, the Kenyan army was invading Somalia, Al-Shabaab was threatening terror attacks, the East African bodybuilding scene beckoned, and Kirsten discovered she had long-lost cousins running a bar on the other side of the city. I Built No Schools in Kenya is a travelogue-tragedy-farce about race, wealth, love, death, family, nationhood, sanity, benzodiazepines, monkeys and whisky. It is almost entirely true.

Born a crime by Trevor Noah

One of the comedy world’s brightest voices, Trevor Noah is a light-footed but sharp-minded observer of the absurdities of politics, race and identity, sharing jokes and insights drawn from the wealth of experience acquired in his relatively young life. As host of the US hit show The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, he provides viewers around the globe with their nightly dose of biting satire, but here Noah turns his focus inward, giving readers a deeply personal, heartfelt and humorous look at the world that shaped him. Noah was born a crime, son of a white Swiss father and a black Xhosa mother, at a time when such a union was punishable by five years in prison. Living proof of his parents’ indiscretion, Trevor was kept mostly indoors for the first years of his life, bound by the extreme and often absurd measures his mother took to hide him from a government that could, at any moment, take him away. A collection of eighteen personal stories, Born a Crime tells the story of a mischievous young boy growing into a restless young man as he struggles to find his place in a world where he was never supposed to exist. Born a Crime is equally the story of that young man’s fearless, rebellious and fervently religious mother – a woman determined to save her son from the cycle of poverty, violence and abuse that ultimately threatens her own life. Whether subsisting on caterpillars for dinner during hard times, being thrown from a moving car during an attempted kidnapping, or just trying to survive the life-and-death pitfalls of dating in high school, Noah illuminates his curious world with an incisive wit and an unflinching honesty. His stories weave together to form a personal portrait of an unlikely childhood in a dangerous time, as moving and unforgettable as the very best memoirs and as funny as Noah’s own hilarious stand-up. Born a Crime is a must read.

GuRu By Ru Paul

A timeless collection of philosophies from renaissance performer and the world’s most famous shape-shifter RuPaul, whose sage outlook has created an unprecedented career for more than thirty-five years. GuRu is packed with more than 80 beautiful photographs that illustrate the concept of building the life you want from the outside in and the inside out. ‘You’re born naked and the rest is drag.’ As someone who has deconstructed life’s hilarious facade, RuPaul has broken ‘the fourth wall’ to expand on the concept of mind, body, and spirit. This unique perspective has allowed RuPaul to break the shackles of self-imposed limitations, but reader beware, this is a daily practice that requires diligence and touchstones to keep you walking in the sunshine of the spirit. Once you’re willing to look beyond the identity that was given to you, a hidden world of possibilities will open its doors. Throughout the history of humans on this planet, there’ve always been shaman, seers, and mediums who are able to interpret both high and low frequencies and remind humans to look beyond the surface for the truth of who we really are. And who we really are is an extension of the power that created the universe (aka: God in drag). FYI: most people are not willing to hear or accept that. That is RuPaul’s secret for success, not only in show business, but in all aspects of life, especially in navigating the emotional landmines that inhibit most sweet, sensitive souls. If you think this book is just about ‘doing drag’, you are sorely mistaken because for RuPaul, drag is merely a device to deactivate the identity-based ego and allow space for the unlimited.

The Uncollected plays of Shaun Micallef by Shaun Micallef

Shaun Micallef is without doubt one of Australia’s premier comedians, writer, producer, presenter, host, actor, author, broadcaster, bon vivant, gadfly, troubadour, dancer, impresario, trick-cyclist, acrobat, lion tamer, poet and elite sportsman. But did you know that he is also an internationally renowned playwright? No? Typical. It’s a stain on our national character that this doyen of theatre does not get anywhere near the credit he deserves or attention he craves in this country; mute testimony to Australia’s cultural cringe and inveterate dumbness. From Broadway to the West End, his name is mentioned in the same breath as Mamet and Ray Cooney; and in the salons of Paris he is worshipped as a God. His plays, uncollected until now, are irrefutable proof that when it comes to listing the world’s greatest dramatists, the name Micallef should be inserted in there somewhere. Even if you have never been to the theatre before, just holding this book in your hands as you are now will change your life forever. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, your body will spasm convulsively – you may even be so moved that you will open the book and read it.

Enjoy!

The Funniest Books of 2018

After last week’s blog post about the most heart wrenching books released (you can read it here – be warned, the authors went straight for your heart strings) we thought we’d liven things up a little for you and share the funniest books released last year. 

We have collated our top six, but if you want more recommendations head over to our facebook and instagram pages where our followers have suggested their all time favourite funny books. 

Let’s dive in.

Springfield Confidential by Mike Reiss, Mathew Klickstein and Judd Apatow

In celebration of The Simpsons thirtieth anniversary (what the!!!), the show’s longest-serving writer and producer offers a humorous look at the writing and making of the legendary Fox series that has become one of the most revered artistic achievements in television history.

Four-time Emmy winner Mike Reiss, who has worked on The Simpsons continuously since episode one in 1989, shares stories, scandals, and gossip about working with America’s most iconic cartoon family ever. Reiss explains how the episodes are created, and provides an inside look at the show’s writers, animators, actors and celebrity guests. He answers a range of questions from Simpsons fans and die-hards, and reminisces about the making of perennially favourite episodes.

In his freewheeling, irreverent comic style, Reiss reflects on his lifetime inside The Simpsons which is a personal highlights reel of his achievements, observations, and favourite stories. Springfield Confidential exposes why Matt Groening decided to make all of the characters yellow; dishes on what it’s like to be crammed in a room full of funny writers sixty hours a week; and tells what Reiss learned after traveling to seventy-one countries where The Simpsons is watched (ironic note: there’s no electricity in many of these places); and even reveals where Springfield is located! He features unique interviews with Judd Apatow, who also provided the foreword, and Conan O’Brien, as well as with Simpsons legends Al Jean, Nancy Cartwright, Dan Castellaneta, and more.

Lose Well by Chris Gethard

This is a laugh-out-loud, kick-in-the-pants self-help narrative for anyone who ever felt like they didn’t fit in or couldn’t catch a break. Comedian and cult hero Chris Gethard shows us how to get over our fear of failure and start living life on our own terms.

Let’s face it: we all want a seat at the cool table, a great job, and loads of money. But most of us won’t be able to achieve this widely accepted, black-or-white, definition of winning, which makes us feel like failures, that we’re destined to a life of loserdom. That’s the conventional wisdom. It’s also crap, according to comedian and cult hero Chris Gethard, who knows a thing of two about losing. Failing is an art form, he argues; in fact, it’s the only way we’re ever going to discover who we are, what we really want, and how to live the kind of life we only dreamed about. Setting flame to vision boards and tossing out the “seven simple steps” to achieving anything, Gethard illustrates his personal and professional manifesto with hilarious and ultimately empowering stories about his own set-backs, missteps, and public failures, from the cancellation of his Comedy Central sitcom after seven episodes to rediscovering his comedic voice and life’s purpose on a public access channel. With his trademark wit and inspiring storytelling Gethard teaches us how to power through our own hero’s journey, whether we’re a fifteen-year-old starting a punk band or a fifty-year-old mother of three launching an Etsy page. In the process, he shows us how to fail with grace, laugh on the way down, and as we dust ourselves off, how to transform inevitable failures into endless opportunities. It might get a little messy, but that’s exactly the point. Because the first step in living on your own terms is learning how to lose well, and more often than not, the revolutionary act of failing lets us witness firsthand what awaits us on the other side.

Look Alive Out There by Sloane Crosley

This book was named a Most Anticipated Book of 2018 by Entertainment Weekly, Glamour, Buzzfeed, Elle, Cosmopolitan, The Millions, InStyle, Bustle, BookRiot, and Southern Living. 

In Look Alive Out There Sloane Crosley returns to the form that made her a household name in really quite a lot of households: Essays! It’s a brand-new collection of essays filled with her trademark hilarity, wit, and charm. The characteristic heart and punch-packing observations are back, but with a newfound coat of maturity. A thin coat. More of a blazer, really.

Fans of I Was Told There’d Be Cake and How Did You Get This Number know Sloane Crosley’s life as a series of relatable but madcap misadventures. In Look Alive Out There, whether it’s scaling active volcanoes, crashing shivas, playing herself on Gossip Girl, befriending swingers, or staring down the barrel of the fertility gun, Crosley continues to rise to the occasion with unmatchable nerve and electric one-liners. And as her subjects become more serious, her essays deliver not just laughs but lasting emotional heft and insight. Crosley has taken up the gauntlets thrown by her predecessors–Dorothy Parker, Nora Ephron, David Sedaris–and crafted something rare, affecting, and true.

When Life Gives You Lululemons by Lauren Weisberger

We thought we’d pop in a novel for you too…because we saw someone on the tram reading it and she was laughing so hard she had to put the book down and get a tissue to wipe away her laughter tears! 

Welcome to Greenwich, Connecticut, where the lawns and the women are perfectly manicured, the Tito’s and sodas are extra strong, and everyone has something to say about the infamous new neighbour. Let’s be clear: Emily Charlton does not do the suburbs. After leaving Miranda Priestly, she’s been working in Hollywood as an image consultant to the stars, but recently, Emily’s lost a few clients. She’s hopeless with social media. The new guard is nipping at her heels. She needs a big opportunity, and she needs it now. When Karolina Hartwell, a gorgeous former supermodel, is arrested for a DUI, her fall from grace is merciless. Her senator-husband leaves her, her Beltway friends disappear, and the tabloids pounce. In Karolina, Emily finds her comeback opportunity. But she quickly learns Greenwich is a world apart and that this comeback needs a team approach. So it is that Emily, the scorned Karolina, and their mutual friend Miriam, a powerful attorney turned stay-at-home suburban mum, band together to not only navigate the social land mines of suburban Greenwich but win back the hearts of the American public. Along the way, an indispensable ally emerges in one Miranda Priestly. With her signature wit, Lauren Weisberger offers an alluring look into a sexy, over-the-top world–and proves it’s style and substance together that gets the job done.

Just The Funny Parts by Nell Scovell and Sheryl Sandberg

This is not your typical funny book but one we know you’ll want to read. 

Just the Funny Parts is a juicy and scathingly funny insider look at how pop culture gets made. For more than thirty years, writer, producer and director Nell Scovell worked behind the scenes of iconic TV shows, including The Simpsons, Late Night with David Letterman, Murphy Brown, NCIS, The Muppets, and Sabrina, the Teenage Witch, which she created and executive produced.

In 2009, Scovell gave up her behind-the-scenes status when the David Letterman sex scandal broke. Only the second woman ever to write for his show, Scovell used the moment to publicly call out the lack of gender diversity in late-night TV writers’ rooms. “One of the boys” came out hard for “all of the girls.” Her criticisms fuelled a cultural debate. Two years later, Scovell was collaborating with Sheryl Sandberg on speeches and later on Lean In, which resulted in a worldwide movement.

Now Scovell is opening up with this fun, honest, and often shocking account. Scovell knows what it’s like to put words in the mouths of President Barack Obama, Mark Harmon, Candice Bergen, Bob Newhart, Conan O’Brien, Alyssa Milano, and Kermit the Frog, among many others. Through her eyes, you’ll sit in the Simpson writers’ room… stand on the Oscar red carpet… pin a tail on Miss Piggy…bond with Star Trek’s Leonard Nimoy… and experience a Stephen King-like encounter with Stephen King.

The Will Only Hurt A Little by Busy Phillipps

This one is for those of you that are one if the 1.6 million Busy Phillips’ followers on Instagram. This is a collection of humorous, autobiographical essays from actress and breakout star of Instagram stories, Busy Philipps. Busy Philipps’s autobiographical book offers the same unfiltered and candid storytelling that her Instagram followers have come to know and love, dealing with everything, from growing up in Scottsdale, Arizona and her painful and painfully funny teen years, to her life as a working actress, mother and famous best friend.

Busy is the rare entertainer whose impressive arsenal of talents as an actress is equally matched by her storytelling ability, sense of humour, and sharp observations about life, love, and motherhood. Her conversational writing reminds us what we love about her on screens large and small. From film to television to Instagram, Busy delightfully showcases her wry humour and her willingness to bare it all.

I’ve been waiting my whole life to write this book. I’m just so grateful someone asked. Otherwise, what was the point of any of it?’ 

Enjoy!

Tips for entertaining this holiday period

Christmas is over and we’re now in the middle of the crazy week where it’s okay to not know which day of the week it is. Many of us spend the week hanging out with friends and extended family, but to keep you from twiddling your fingers and making small talk we have found books with some great ideas that are sure to fill your afternoons and evenings until it’s time to head back to the office. 

Guinness World Records 2019 by Guinness World Records

The world’s most popular record book is back with thousands of new categories and newly broken records, covering everything from outer space to sporting greats via Instagram, fidget spinners and all manner of human marvels. Inside you’ll find hundreds of never-before-seen photographs and countless facts, figures, stats and trivia waiting for you on every action-packed page. Guinness World Records 2019 is the ultimate snapshot of our world today. Plus, this year it celebrates the incredible “Maker” movement with a special feature devoted to the inventors, dreamers, crafters and creators who devote their lives to amazing record-breaking projects such as the largest water pistol, a jet-powered go-kart and an elephant-sized hamburger (think you could eat a whole one!?). Take a sneak peak into their workshops to explore these epically big builds, and ask them what inspires them to go really, really large! And if you like creating, and you like LEGO®, then you’ll love the “Making History” pages that use the world’s most famous interlocking plastic bricks to illustrate and explain an important record-breaking object – such as the Statue of Liberty or the Apollo mission’s Saturn V rocket. Finally, you can jump into both the making and record-breaking action with a “Do Try This At Home” section. Challenge yourself and your family with five fun record-breaking maker-inspired records you can attempt involving origami, balloon sculptures, ring pulls and rubber bands. Who knows, your creation might just make it into the record books!

 

Genius LEGO® Inventions with Bricks You Already Have by Sarah Dees

Sarah Dees’ first two LEGO® books have launched into bestseller status, with over 80 thousand copies sold combined. Her latest book hits on the popular subject that draws many kids into LEGO® in the first place—tinkering, engineering, building, experimenting, solving problems and inventing. This book shares fun and exciting new science-powered creations, following the storyline of two fictional LEGO® mini figure kids who are inventors. As the mini figures explore LEGO® world and go on adventures, kids at home learn to build the scenes and amazing inventions step by step. The projects are fun toys that kids can play with, but they also teach the important science concepts at work behind levers, pulleys, suspension bridges, skyscrapers, gears, motorised machines, magnets and more. Kids will love that they are creating cool and unique gadgets all on their own. And parents will love that their kids are learning important science facts that help them in school, developing critical thinking skills, and, let’s be honest, keeping themselves entertained for hours on end!

 

Smart Riddles For Smart Kids by Linda Nguyen

Get ready for some unforgettable family fun with this massive riddle collection for children of all ages!

It’s been said that questions are signs of an active mind, which is crucial for children growing up to be intelligent, smart, and wise adults. Riddles are one of the best – and fun – ways of stimulating the mind so that it continues to become better and smarter. 

This book contains 400 fun and smart riddles that can provide very good mental stimulation for you and your kids, and help make your minds develop even more. I hope you enjoy them! 

 

We have even found a few titles to inspire something tasty after all of the the fun and games… 

 

Savor: Entertaining with Charcuterie, Cheese, Spreads & More by Kimberly Stevens

Serving boards possess an uncanny ability to mirror the mood of a host and transform a room’s ambiance as friends and family gather around them to both eat and enjoy time together. Savor lavishly details how to create memorable and delicious serving boards, no matter the season or the occasion. Expert advice and insights provide strategies and approaches for composing boards that balance flavour profiles and textures, using elegant and inventive recipes. Inside  this fab title, you’ll find expert advice and recipes from Murray’s Cheese, Publican Market, The Cheese Store of Beverly Hills, Lady & Larder, Mike’s Hot Honey, Blake Hill Preserves, Esters Wine Shop & Bar, and Vermont Creamery along with guides on how to pair cheeses, meats, condiments, and an array of other ingredients that can be used on serving boards.

 

On Boards: Simple & Inspiring Recipe Ideas to Share at Every Gathering by Lisa Dawn Bolton

Sharing food on boards is the perfect way to entertain family and friends. With minimum effort and maximum impact you can casually host in style and focus on spending time together, rather than being stuck in the kitchen. 

In On Boards, food stylist Lisa Bolton has put together 50 ideas for instantly approachable boards, all with effortless entertaining in mind, as well as 52 recipes for delectable savory and sweet additions like Beet Hummus, Bourbon Bacon Jam, Mashed Potato Dip and Chocolate Salami. All of the boards can be pulled together in very little time, and all include presentation and styling tips to make them (and you!) shine. Lisa also shows you how to style any assortment of food into a beautiful board so you can transform whatever is in your fridge and pantry! 

With chapters on Everyday Boards, Holiday & Special Occasion Boards, Seasonal Boards and Around the World Boards, you will find inspiration for every gathering. Whether you are looking for a breakfast or brunch board; a board for a picnic, potluck or playdate; for Thanksgiving, Superbowl Sunday or New Year’s Eve; for a huge celebration or a cozy date night for two, it is included in this collection of gorgeously curated boards.

 

and for those planning on partying into the wee small hours…

 

Booze & Vinyl: A Spirited Guide to Great Music and Mixed Drinks by André Darlington

Booze and Vinyl explores the intersection of timeless music and mixed drinks with a spotlight on 70 great records from the 1950s through the 2000s. From modern craft cocktails to old standbys, prepare to shake, stir, and just plain pour your way through some of the best wax ever pressed. Wickedly designed and featuring photography throughout, the book is organised by mood, from Rock to Chill, Dance, and Seduce. Each entry has liner notes that underscore the album’s musical highlights and accompanying cocktail recipes that complement the music’s mood, imagery in the lyrics, or connect the drink to the artist. This is your guide to a rich listening session for one, two, or more. Among the 70 featured albums are: Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club, Purple Rain, Sticky Fingers, Born To Run, License to Ill, Appetite for Destruction, Thriller, Like a Virgin, Low End Theory, The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust, Hotel California, Buena Vista Social Club, Back to Black, Pet Sounds, Vampire Weekend, and many more.

 

Enjoy!