The most recommended books about comedians

Who picked these books? Meet our 40 experts.

40 authors created a book list connected to comedians, and here are their favorite comedian books.
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What type of comedian book?


Book cover of Can I Have My Ball Back? A memoir of masculinity, mortality and my right testicle

Evie King Author Of Ashes To Admin: Tales from the Caseload of a Council Funeral Officer

From my list on help you accept, embrace, and laugh at mortality.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm a death professional who lives in a world where nobody wants to talk about my specialist subject, so I hoover up any books that discuss mortality and our relationship to it. To do my job well, I need to face death on a daily basis in a matter-of-fact way, without losing that reverence, but equally not getting lost in the reverence because there is plenty to smile at, laugh at and be brutally honest about. These things make me the rounded human that is needed to perform the task well and the kind of people who write these books typically embody those qualities and inspire me. I hope they can inspire you too.

Evie's book list on help you accept, embrace, and laugh at mortality

Evie King Why did Evie love this book?

This will look like nepotism because Richard is a dear friend who provided a quote for my book cover, however I am mainly friends with him because we are of the same mind about most things, including death.

We both deal with it using a good dose of sarcasm and humour whilst also being big old existential softies who have our moments.

His book about his cancer diagnosis sees his coping mechanism of humour balanced with the honest sadnesses of potentially leaving behind young children who might forget him, before returning to humourous disapproval at his wife's imagined new man.

My own firmly held belief that you can't live well without the shadow of death also comes through as he starts to live better and healthier in recovery, thanks to his brush with the reaper. 

By Richard Herring,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Can I Have My Ball Back? A memoir of masculinity, mortality and my right testicle as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Very funny, moving and heartwarming' BOB MORTIMER

'A bollockbuster!' ADAM BUXTON

If we are cowardly, we are told to grow some
If we're brave, we're said to have huge ones
If it's cold, they are liable to fall off - even if you're a brass monkey
If we're in trouble, someone will threaten to break them
If we have to work hard, we might very well bust them
If we're in somebody's thrall, then they've got us by them

About fifteen years ago, Richard Herring first took part in a campaign to encourage men to have a little (non-sexual) feel…

Book cover of Dying to Do Letterman: Turning Someday into Today

Donald B. Stewart Author Of Past Medical History: Recollections of a Medical Miscreant

From my list on surviving a life-changing challenge.

Why am I passionate about this?

When life’s experiences fall dismally short of expectations, many of us find ourselves lost at a crossroads. When my path to becoming a doctor began to exact an unacceptable toll, I had to find a way out; discharging myself from the hospital was the solution, and by far the best clinical decision of my brief medical career.  As a result, I’m still fascinated by choices others make when faced with what seem like impossible obstacles, and where those decisions lead. Following the medical dream from age five, it wasn’t easy to change my life’s course, but that crucial choice allowed me to grow in ways I couldn’t imagine.  

Donald's book list on surviving a life-changing challenge

Donald B. Stewart Why did Donald love this book?

Sometimes when faced with impossible choices, the answer is to double down and keep going – even in the face of an existential threat.

As a visual humorist (I deliver my jokes on paper), I shared an immediate rapport with standup comedian Steve Mazan, who was pitching his book at an IdeaFestival, while still dealing with the lingering consequences of liver cancer. Steve’s answer was to say, “I’ve been dying to appear on David Letterman. Now I’m literally dying to do it!”

There’s something to be said of checking off the important boxes on your bucket list. Steve Mazan turned his list into a book, one that delivers a powerful punch line.

By Steve Mazan,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Dying to Do Letterman as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Steve Mazan's someday was to perform on The Late Show with David Letterman. In his early thirties Steve was diagnosed with an incurable form of cancer that spread to his liver. Doctors told him he might have only five years left to live. So Steve did something strange: he started living. In a literal race against time, he decided to chase that childhood dream and turn someday into today—he would perform his act live on The Late Show with David Letterman . . . even if it killed him.
With his confidence in a rut and his healthcare bills mounting,…

Book cover of Missed Translations: Meeting the Immigrant Parents Who Raised Me

Mansi Shah Author Of The Direction of the Wind

From my list on highlighting the range of Indian voices in America.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve spent my life as an avid reader, but I hadn’t seen my culture represented in many books, so I began writing the stories that I wished had existed on the shelves when I was younger. It took until my forties for my books to be published, and for me to start finding stories by other Indian authors like me, but better late than never! As someone who has lived in multiple countries and traveled to more than 70 others, I’m no stranger to writing about and searching for places that feel like home, and each of these books helped bring a piece of home to me.

Mansi's book list on highlighting the range of Indian voices in America

Mansi Shah Why did Mansi love this book?

There is so much wit and humor in this memoir that touches upon the immigrant experience from the perspective of the first-generation adult child. Deb goes on a journey to learn who his parents are as individuals and gains a perspective that is often difficult to achieve in the Indian community because parents don’t often share with their children who they are on the inside. The vulnerability with which Deb shares his childhood desire to blend into the white community in which he was raised was so relatable because I’d had a similar upbringing in another part of the country. This book made me laugh hard, think more deeply, and want to know my parents better.

By Sopan Deb,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Missed Translations as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A bittersweet and humorous memoir of family—of the silence and ignorance that separate us, and the blood and stories that connect us—from an award-winning New York Times writer and comedian.

Approaching his 30th birthday, Sopan Deb had found comfort in his day job as a writer for the New York Times and a practicing comedian. But his stage material highlighting his South Asian culture only served to mask the insecurities borne from his family history. Sure, Deb knew the facts: his parents, both Indian, separately immigrated to North America in the 1960s and 1970s. They were brought together in a…

Book cover of Groucho Marx, Master Detective

Michael Bradley Author Of Dead Air: A Novel of Suspense

From my list on first in a suspense or mystery series.

Why am I passionate about this?

I fell in love with the mystery genre at a young age, starting with Donald J. Sobol's Encyclopedia Brown series. It didn't take long to graduate to the likes of Sherlock Holmes, particularly once PBS began broadcasting the series with Jeremy Brett in the titular role. Over the years, my passion for mystery and suspense stories has branched out into numerous sub-genres and a variety of classics from such superb authors like Agatha Christie, Leslie Charteris, P. D. James, and Charles Todd. As much as I enjoy individual mystery and suspense novels, I enjoy even more a series with a cast of characters that I can follow from book to book. 

Michael's book list on first in a suspense or mystery series

Michael Bradley Why did Michael love this book?

I've been a huge fan of the Marx Brothers for many years. So, when I found a book that featured Groucho Marx as an amateur detective, I jumped on it. This, the first in a six-book series, is a treat to anyone who is a fan of the golden age of Hollywood. It is a cavalcade of famous names from the era of black and white films. Goulart does a tremendous job balancing a mysterious plotline with the lighthearted fun that you'd expect from a novel featuring Groucho Marx. And I'm happy to report that Goulart captures the essence of Groucho perfectly. The book, as well as the series, is a terrific tribute to one of Hollywood comedy geniuses. And it's a damn good mystery as well.

By Ron Goulart,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Groucho Marx, Master Detective as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

To stay busy between movies, Groucho Marx agrees to act in a radio serial, but before the first episode can even be aired, his beautiful co-star is found dead, and he becomes determined to find her killer.

Book cover of I Know I Am, But What Are You?

Winter Miller Author Of Not a Cat: A Memoir

From my list on memoirs by very sexy writers.

Why am I passionate about this?

Raised by activist feminist parents and schooled by Quakers, I am surprisingly amusing. Eartha Kitt once held my left hand for five minutes. I work primarily as a playwright; Not a Cat is my first children’s book! Now when I show up at a little kid’s birthday instead of bringing a play I wrote, I can give the tot age-appropriate reading material. For me, reading a memoir is this intimate exchange with a writer where they’ve shared everything, and I’ve revealed nothing. What’s better than a good story beautifully curated? Okay, a cookie, but that’s it. I hope my book reaches all the kids out there who are told: be less this and more that

Winter's book list on memoirs by very sexy writers

Winter Miller Why did Winter love this book?

First thing, even if she weren’t my best friend, I would choose Samantha Bee’s memoir. I read it years ago and I still have flashes of it come to me when I’m watering plants or whatever, descriptions of her life with her grandmother, like how she made Sam wear a one-piece cashmere sweat suit with a patent-leather belt to gym class and tell Sam she shouldn’t sweat in it because it was dry-clean only. As an atheist, I loved her fealty to Jesus Christ, and her vision that they would of course “listen to my disco records and eat Tang straight from the package, just like lovers did.” Yes obviously I’m her friend because I think she’s gorgeous. That’s the theme here, pure aesthetics and good with wordings. 

By Samantha Bee,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked I Know I Am, But What Are You? as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Candid, outspoken, laugh-out-loud funny essays from much-loved Samantha Bee, host of TBS's uproarious late-night show Full Frontal with Samantha Bee, executive producer and writer of TBS's comedy television series The Detour, and former The Daily Show with Jon Stewart’s Most Senior Correspondent.

In I Know I Am, But What Are You? she shares her unique and irreverent viewpoint on subjects as wide-ranging as:

There were six main players in my coterie: G.I. Joe (macho, good-looking), Wonder Woman (hot, carpet-munching neighbor, busy with athletics), Marie Osmond (career gal, smart), Ken (gay, obviously), regular Barbie (slutty, dumb, eternally single),…

Book cover of We Are Never Meeting in Real Life.

Phillip Lopate Author Of To Show and to Tell: The Craft of Literary Nonfiction

From my list on comic essay collections.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been a champion of the essay form for some time, starting with my popular anthology Art of the Personal Essay and extending to my more recent trio of anthologies of the American essay. At the same time I have written four personal essay collections of my own, and I know I am really cooking when I can still laugh or at least smile at my jokes after the fifth or tenth reading of a piece I wrote. I have to admit that I can only appreciate writing (by myself or others) that is amusing or at least ironic, never solemn: to me the truth of existence is comic, like it or not.

Phillip's book list on comic essay collections

Phillip Lopate Why did Phillip love this book?

This author always cracks me up, with her outrageously candid, sometimes bawdy confessions of awkward slips and romantic misalliances. She is so smart and insightful, yet so down to earth, that you just have to love her. I’m also a big fan of her collection Meaty.

By Samantha Irby,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked We Are Never Meeting in Real Life. as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Irby might be our great bard of quarantine.' New York Times

In this painfully funny collection, Samantha Irby captures powerful emotional truths while chronicling the rubbish bin she calls her life. From an ill-fated pilgrimage to Nashville to scatter her estranged father's ashes to awkward sexual encounters to the world's first completely honest job application, and more, sometimes you just have to laugh, even when your life is permanently pear-shaped.

'I cannot remember the last time I was so moved by a book. As close to perfect as an essay collection can get.' Roxane Gay
'Hilarious. I love it.' Candice…

Book cover of All About Me!: My Remarkable Life in Show Business

Richard Sparks Author Of New Rock, New Role

From Richard's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Adventurer Humorist Recovering RPG addict Banjo player

Richard's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Richard Sparks Why did Richard love this book?

Laughs galore as EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony winner) comedy legend Mel Brooks looks back on his remarkable life and career.

I’ve met Mel a few times, and he was delighted when I told him that a French au pair once said, about my mother-in-law, “She has high anxiety.” Meaning vertigo. And High Anxiety was Mel’s spoof of Hitchcock’s Vertigo. He loved to hear that. “She said that? She really said that??” 

Hearing Mel reading it in my earphones made my daily walks a joy. He certainly knows how to tell a funny story—and this book is overflowing with them.

By Mel Brooks,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked All About Me! as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


'Delightful. A great, fun read.' DAVID JASON
'Mel Brooks is the king of comedy.' DAVID BADDIEL
'Riotous' DAILY MAIL
'A jaunty romp across Brooks's career' THE TIMES

At 95, the legendary Mel Brooks continues to set the standard for comedy across television, film, and the stage. Now, for the first time, this EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, Tony) winner shares his story in his own words.

Here are the never-before-told, behind-the-scenes anecdotes and remembrances from a master storyteller, filmmaker, and creator of all things funny.

From The Producers to Blazing Saddles,…

Book cover of Yes Please

Ann Aikens Author Of A Young Woman's Guide to Life: A Cautionary Tale

From my list on funniest memoirs with advice for a happy life.

Why am I passionate about this?

Raised when unsupervised kids roamed freely in the woods, my friends and I became adept at finding fun. My 20s were spent in New York in the 1980's zeitgeist of exploration and excess. A lifelong fan of comedy, I worked at the Comedy Cellar, where I booked and watched countless standup comics. Later, I left NYC’s glamor for Vermont’s nature. Since then, my Vermont newspaper column, "Upper Valley Girl," has amused and astonished (and possibly appalled) readers with humor and candor. Ever adventurous to the point of risk, making awful mistakes, and enduring impossible people, I learned limits the hard way. I advise young people not to do the same. 

Ann's book list on funniest memoirs with advice for a happy life

Ann Aikens Why did Ann love this book?

Reading this, I felt like I was in a room with Poehler and lucky to be there. I dug this so. It’s genuinely funny, historical, and outrageous, with photos. It offers sound life advice and intel on The Business without a heavy hand at name-dropping (but enough to get one salivating).

I appreciate its length, considering she was doing so much when she wrote it, and I do believe she wrote it, unlike so many celeb books. Plus, I adore improvisational comedy, frequently referenced. I won’t spoil anything; I just highly recommend it. 

By Amy Poehler,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Yes Please as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


In Amy Poehler's highly anticipated first book, Yes Please, she offers up a big juicy stew of personal stories, funny bits on sex and love and friendship and parenthood and real life advice (some useful, some not so much). Powered by Amy's charming and hilarious, biting yet wise voice, Yes Please is a book full of words to live by.

Book cover of Sure, I'll Join Your Cult: A Memoir of Mental Illness and the Quest to Belong Anywhere

Strobe Witherspoon Author Of OOF: An Online Outrage Fiesta for the Ages

From Strobe's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Irreverent Lister Of Things Sorry

Strobe's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Strobe Witherspoon Why did Strobe love this book?

I tend to read more books about comedy than I do books by comedians. Bamford’s book was a welcome shift for me and provided unique insights into the mechanics of unconventional comedy. She has been revered by comedy nerds for a long time but I was only moderately familiar with her work, mostly in that she is at the forefront of a certain kind of confessional, discomforting comedy that sometimes focuses on her mental health, a topic that was, until recently, off limits in the mainstream comedy world.

Acclimating to the substance and tone comes relatively quickly. The juxtaposition of difficult personal revelations alongside breezy comedic reflection created a unique and revelatory reading experience. 

By Maria Bamford,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Sure, I'll Join Your Cult as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From "weird, scary, ingenious" (The New York Times) stand-up comedian Maria Bamford, a brutally honest and hilariously frenetic memoir about show business, mental health, and the comfort of rigid belief systems-from Dale Carnegie's How to Win Friends and Influence People, to Suzuki violin training, to Richard Simmons, to 12-step programs.

Maria Bamford is a comedian's comedian (an outsider among outsiders) and has forever fought to find a place to belong. From struggling with an eating disorder as a child of the 1980s, to navigating a career in the arts (and medical debt and psychiatric institutionalization), she has tried just about…

Book cover of Before & Laughter

Angie Clarke Author Of Sh*t Creek to Somewhere Else: The options to change even when all the odds are against you

From my list on how to instigate professional and personal change.

Why am I passionate about this?

Helping others and getting help has been an integral part of my life and career. Over 30 years in the mental health world allowed me to explore many books, individuals and the simple ones are the best. They get to the core of change quickly which is vital sometimes to keep people alive. Supporting others is my passion and the truth is reading has allowed me to continue without burnout and some of my reading list are my go to books when this feels like it maybe coming.

Angie's book list on how to instigate professional and personal change

Angie Clarke Why did Angie love this book?

I laughed and cried whilst reading this book which was recommended by my youngest son.

Jimmy explored the management of the day-to-day life of someone who is seen as a successful person apart from trying to dodge his taxes. I would say it is cynical, but funny with it. Don’t not read because you don’t like the author, read to take the knowledge which I did that I have been able to share with others.

By Jimmy Carr,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Before & Laughter as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?



'Very funny and very beautiful, packed with jokes and genuinely wise advice' - Chris Evans

'So good. I've loved every second of reading it' - James Corden

'Riveting' - Daily Mail

'A hilarious book that will be adored by Jimmy's fans. Both of them' - David Walliams

'I was really annoyed at how good this book is and that's the biggest compliment I can give' - Romesh Ranganathan

'It's the first life advice book from someone whose life you would actually want' -…