Sundays 8pm to 11pm on Radio 2

New Episodes at CBC Music

New Episodes at CBC Music

Need more Strombo Show? Head over to our page on CBC Music for new episodes, playlists and video extras.

CBC Music Past Shows



What Do Tina Fey And Hunter S. Thompson Have In Common? This List Will Tell You
July 16, 2013
submit to reddit


Peter Ustinov said "comedy is simply a funny way of being serious."

And sometimes it's also just a funny way of being funny.

These memoirs are full of both: some of them feature some real insights alongside the laughs; some are gonzo trips into an alternate, drug-fuelled reality (we're looking at you, Tina Fey).

All of them make a great companion if you're headed to the cottage or the beach, or if you need something to get you through your morning commute.

Although if you are planning on checking one of these out on public transit, you should heed the warning on the cover of Bill Bryson's 'Notes from a Small Island': "Not a book that should be read in public, for fear of emitting loud snorts."

funny-memoirs-bossypants.jpgTina Fey - 'Bossypants'
If you're looking for a healthy dose of self-deprecation, a little bit of absurdity, and some funny but vital insights into workplaces, writing comedy, and gender relations... You'll probably enjoy '30 Rock'.

And all of those qualities are in full evidence in 'Bossypants', a funny memoir by the show's creator, Tina Fey. From the cover image onward, it's a book with some serious ideas at its heart about power dynamics and creating art, but it never stops being entertaining.

The New York Times called it "a spiky blend of humor, introspection, critical thinking and Nora Ephron-isms for a new generation."

funny-memoirs-chelsea.jpgChelsea Handler - 'Are You There Vodka? It's Me, Chelsea' In a series of comedic (and mostly autobiographical) essays, talk show host Chelsea Handler presents a respectable, professional picture of herself.

Oh wait, no, this is a Chelsea Handler book. From lying about starring in a movie with Goldie Hawn when she was in elementary school to being pulled over for drinking and driving to an incident involving a boyfriend and an overly friendly pet dog, Chelsea lets the reader see her at her worst.

George was recently on 'Chelsea Lately' to talk about his CNN show 'Stroumboulopoulos'. Check that interview out here.

funny-memoirs-fear-and-loathing.jpgHunter S. Thompson - 'Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas'
It's hard to pin down exactly what's real in 'Fear and Loathing', Hunter S. Thompson's account of chasing the American Dream in Las Vegas in the early '70s.

With its epic descriptions of drug trips and the mad-cap antics of Raoul Duke (Thompson's alter-ego) and his attorney Dr. Gonzo (who is based on Oscar Zeta Acosta), the book has become a huge cult hit, in part for its commentary on the culture of the 1960s, and partly for its role in creating what's become known as "gonzo journalism."

But another reason people like the book so much is that it's very, very funny: as the narrative dissolves and the characters indulge in drugs and experience strange visions, it generates a lot of humour from absurdity.

funny-memoirs-notes.jpgBill Bryson - 'Notes on a Small Island'
After living in England for 20 years, author Bill Bryson decided to take one last tour around the "small island" before returning to his native United States.

In the process, he offers lots of fascinating facts to the reader - and a whole lot of funny observations about British culture. In fact, BBC Radio 4 took a poll back in 2003 and readers voted 'Notes' as the book that best represents Britain.

Not bad for a memoir written by an American. Although he gently makes fun of some aspects of British culture, his love for the UK shines through: "the tea lady called me love. All the shop ladies called me love and most of the men called me mate. I hadn't been here twelve hours and already everybody loved me".

funny-memoirs-me-talk.jpgDavid Sedaris - 'Me Talk Pretty One Day'
American humourist, comedian, author and radio guy David Sedaris has been publishing collections of essays about his life since 1994's 'Barrel Fever', and he's developed quite a following since: to date, he's sold more than seven million copies of his books.

He's in the red chair tonight, Tuesday July 16, to talk about his latest book, 'Let's Explore Diabetes With Owls', another successful collection of stories from his life.

But if you've never read anything by Sedaris, 'Me Talk Pretty One Day' is a great place to start. The book is split into two sections, one dealing with his time before he moved to Normandy, France.

As with all his essay collections, he finds a way of turning his everyday experiences into funny, relatable and sometimes dark stories.

funny-memoirs-jenny-lawson.jpgJenny Lawson - 'Let's Pretend This Never Happened: A Mostly True Memoir'

As The Bloggess, American journalist Jenny Lawson has developed a big following online for her honest, often harsh accounts of her life as a mother and her experience with medical and psychological illnesses.

The idea behind 'Let's Pretend This Never Happened' is that the most embarrassing moments in our lives - the ones we'd rather forget - are in fact the ones that define us.

It's a good recipe for comedy, but also for an honest, open look at life. And with chapter titles like "And Then I Snuck a Dead Cuban Alligator on an Airplane" and "My Vagina is Fine. Thanks for Asking," it's a unique reading experience.

funny-memoirs-my-booky-wook.jpgRussell Brand - 'My Booky Wook'

In 'My Booky Wook', comedian and actor Russell Brand writes "my life is just a series of embarrassing incidents strung together by telling people about those embarrassing incidents."

He's exaggerating, of course - his life is about a lot more than that - but if you enjoy reading about the embarrassments of others, as told in a thoughtful and playful tone, this is the book for you.

Through his story of sex addiction, drug addiction, and a willingness to try pretty much anything once, Brand elicits plenty of laughs, and maybe a few gasps. It's a fascinating look at a distinctive life.


Legendary Musician, Poet & Artist Patti Smith To Play Two Shows In Toronto And Join Us In The Red Chair

George Talks To Chelsea Handler On 'Chelsea Lately'

Russell Brand's Latest Role: A Defender Of Harm Reduction Drug Strategies


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Submission Policy

Note: The CBC does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comments, you acknowledge that CBC has the right to reproduce, broadcast and publicize those comments or any part thereof in any manner whatsoever. Please note that comments are moderated and published according to our submission guidelines.