Comedy in Focus: The Best Comedy Books of 2023

A Comprehensive Look at the Year’s Most Memorable and Thought-Provoking Comedy Literature

In a world that often feels weary and jaded, comedy has evolved to offer a mature and intellectual form of entertainment. The year 2023 saw a surge in books that delved into the backgrounds, motivations, and creative processes of some of the most original comedians. From memoirs to boundary-pushing fiction and scholarly works, these books explored the historical, cultural, and emotional impact of comedy. In this article, we will explore the top 10 comedy books released in 2023, along with a selection of other notable titles.

A Guide to Midwestern Conversation by Taylor Kay Phillips:

Taylor Kay Phillips, a staff writer at Last Week Tonight With John Oliver, presents a wildly entertaining and critical look at the people of “flyover country” in her book, A Guide to Midwestern Conversation. With precision and humor, Phillips dissects the elements of Midwestern culture, from passive-aggressive behavior to gift-giving one-upmanship. This book offers a cathartic experience for anyone dealing with passive-aggressive individuals in their lives.

Sure, I’ll Join Your Cult by Maria Bamford:

Comedian Maria Bamford takes readers behind the scenes of her act in Sure, I’ll Join Your Cult. This memoir delves into the personal interactions that inspire Bamford’s jokes and bits, revealing a striking similarity between her onstage persona and her real self. With humor and introspection, Bamford explores her own perceived weirdness and offers a glimpse into her journey of self-discovery.

Griefstrike! by Jesse Roeder:

Jesse Roeder’s memoir, Griefstrike!, takes a unique approach to the universal experience of grief. Through the format of a third-person faux manual, Roeder offers a comedic exploration of the deeply unpleasant and often taboo subject of grief. While providing legitimately helpful advice, Roeder shows readers that laughter can be a powerful tool in processing the overwhelming emotions associated with loss.

Misfit by Gary Gulman:

Gary Gulman’s memoir, Misfit, offers a two-for-one deal, combining self-deprecating anecdotes with a raw and honest exploration of mental illness. Gulman takes readers on a journey through his well-lived upbringing, highlighting his experiences as an old soul dealing with the challenges of life in the 1980s. Interwoven with the humor is a poignant account of Gulman’s struggle with depression, transforming Misfit into a harrowing and deeply personal account.

Escape From Hawaii by Jack Handey:

Jack Handey, known for his iconic Saturday Night Live sketches and “Deep Thoughts,” brings his unique brand of humor to long-form fiction in Escape From Hawaii. This sequel to The Stench of Honolulu takes readers on a hilarious and absurd journey with protagonist “Wrong Way Slurps” as he attempts to flee from the hellhole of a nightmare world that is Hawaii. Handey’s ability to craft a story filled with circular wordplay and laugh-out-loud quips is a testament to his high-level humor craft.

Funny You Don’t Look Funny by Seth Caplan:

Seth Caplan’s Funny You Don’t Look Funny explores the deep connection between Jewish culture and comedy. Caplan traces the evolution of American comedy alongside the changing landscape of the Jewish American community. From vaudevillian humor to modern-day comedians like Larry David and the Coen brothers, Caplan reveals how Jewish comedy has shaped and influenced American comedy as a whole.


The year 2023 brought forth a diverse range of comedy books that showcased the evolution and impact of the genre. From memoirs that offered personal insights into the lives of comedians to scholarly works that analyzed the historical and cultural significance of comedy, these books provided readers with a deeper understanding of the art form. As comedy continues to mature and captivate audiences, these books serve as a testament to its power to entertain, provoke thought, and bring about social change.

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