Looking for Some Funny, Inspiring Audiobooks? Yes, Please!
By Diedre Lemon, Adult Services Librarian
I have a long commute to work each day, and I have spent a great deal of time in a car traveling back to Illinois to visit family. So, I discovered audiobooks to keep going on the long hours behind the wheel. Normally I choose a fun fantasy book like the Percy Jackson series or Neil Gaiman. Since I have listened to the newest Rick Riordan book, Magnus Chase and the Ship of the Dead, I need some fresh audiobooks to enjoy, and after re-watching West Wing with Rob Lowe, I was ready to re-watch Parks and Recreation. Therefore it made sense to listen to Amy Poehler’s book, Yes Please! After Poehler’s book came Tina Fey’s book Bossypants partly because Poehler mentioned Fey’s book.
One could quickly judge these books as nothing more than memoirs filled with reflective essays, but I would suggest listening to or reading them before jumping to such conclusions. Poehler and Fey address issues of gender, body image, comedy, being a woman and becoming a mom. Their backgrounds in comedy deliver these topics with humorous candor, so after you stop laughing or smiling, you catch how clever and talented they are as comedians. They are also not afraid to talk about how hard it can be to be a mother, a wife and to have a career. Listening to these women admit their flaws and carry on, gave me quirky pep talks each time I was in the car. For a short time, it was like driving to work with a funny cool older sister who offered advice.
Another reason to listen to these books is to hear about Saturday Night Live. I grew up watching Michael Myers, Phil Hartman, Molly Shannon and Chris Farly, and of course I enjoyed writing and performing sketch comedy in junior high and high school. Occasionally, I would catch episodes of the show with Amy Poehler and Tina Fey. Both women worked on Saturday Night Live as writers and performers. Fey was on from the late 1990’s to early 2000’s, and Poehler was part of the show from 2001-2009 with some special guest appearances in the following years. They were the first two women to host Weekend Update on Saturday Night Live. Up until that point, Weekend Update had never had two female co-anchors. Listening to both of these women speak about this in their books, I could hear how proud Poehler and Fey were of their work together on the show and the boundaries they broke.
Both address what life is like as female comedians in a male driven business. Each one spoke about how the inclusion of more female comedians who could write and perform helped changed the industry. It was encouraging that both of these ladies went on to have successful TV shows after working at Saturday Night Live. Balancing work with a husband and children was also part of life after Saturday Night Live. Each one had to navigate writing scripts for weekly episodes, learning lines, filming, children, family and more. Not all of this was done successfully, either. Poehler and Fey were quick to admit life is messy, constantly changing and there is little we can control of it.
The themes and topics of the book were the same; however, the voices and humor were different. Poehler’s audio was a little flashier with guest readers, while Fey has a more understated tone and sense of humor. Fey was more reserved while Poehler was a little more emotional. Yet, both books are worth listening too. Each writer spoke about the other writer and their themes were similar. I am to finish the books.
Mindy Kaling’s Why Not Me is next on my reading/ listening list for inspiring, humorous audiobooks. Additionally, male comedians also made the list: Neil Patrick Harris’ Neil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Autobiography, Aziz Ansari’s Modern Romance, and Jim Gaffigan’s Dad is Fat and Food: A Love Story.
A majority of my audiobooks are from the Sunflower E-Library using the Libby app on my phone. Hoopla is another favorite app for audiobooks and e-books. The library also has a great books on CD collection, too. For more great titles, be sure to check out the apps and our audiobook collection at the library.