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.