The Best Comedy Books of 2023: A Year of Laughter, Analysis, and Cultural Impact

Exploring the Literary Landscape of Comedy in 2023

Comedy has evolved into a sophisticated art form, garnering intellectual and academic attention like never before. In 2023, the world of comedy took a turn inward, with a surge of memoirs, boundary-pushing fiction, and in-depth analyses of the historical and cultural significance of comedy. From dissecting the Midwestern conversation to exploring the Jewish influence on American humor, these books offered a deep dive into the world of comedy. Here are the top comedy books released in 2023 that left an indelible mark on the literary landscape.

1: 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 taxonomy of the people of “flyover country” in her book, A Guide to Midwestern Conversation. With a blend of love and mockery, Phillips breaks down the elements of the aggressively normal, offering a cathartic read for anyone dealing with passive-aggressive individuals in their lives.

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

In Sure, I’ll Join Your Cult, comedian Maria Bamford provides the backstory to her act, delving into the personal interactions with friends, relatives, and enemies that inspire her jokes and bits. The memoir explores Bamford’s journey of self-analysis, as she tries to understand her own perceived weirdness and the cult-like communities she has involved herself in. The book offers a unique perspective on the intersection of comedy and personal growth.

3: Griefstrike! by Brian Roeder

Brian Roeder, known for his work with The Onion and McSweeney’s, tackles the universal experience of grief in his memoir, Griefstrike! Written in the form of a third-person faux manual, Roeder’s book offers a transgressive and humorous take on the deeply unpleasant process of grieving. Through laughter, Roeder shows readers that humor can be a powerful tool for processing and transcending the overwhelming forces of life.

4: Misfit by Gary Gulman

Gary Gulman’s memoir, Misfit, is a unique blend of hilarious self-deprecating anecdotes and a raw exploration of mental illness. Gulman shares amusing stories from his upbringing, portraying himself as an old soul navigating the challenges of the 1980s. Intertwined with these anecdotes is a poignant depiction of Gulman’s contemporary depressive episode, transforming the memoir into a harrowing account of mental health struggles.

5: Escape From Hawaii by Jack Handey

Jack Handey, known for his iconic Saturday Night Live sketches and “Deep Thoughts,” takes his whimsical humor to long-form fiction in Escape From Hawaii. The sequel to his 2013 novel, The Stench of Honolulu, Handey weaves a hilarious and absurd narrative filled with circular wordplay and laugh-out-loud quips. The book follows the escapades of the obliviously annoying protagonist, “Wrong Way Slurps,” as he attempts to flee the nightmarish world of Hawaii.


The comedy books of 2023 offered readers a diverse range of perspectives and styles, showcasing the depth and impact of the genre. From humorous memoirs to satirical analyses, these books demonstrated the power of comedy to entertain, provoke thought, and bring about social change. As comedy continues to evolve, these works serve as a testament to its enduring relevance and influence in our world.

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