A few years ago I read books by a few of my favorite comedians and was a bit disappointed. I, perhaps wrongly, assumed that they would be super funny. After seeing some great reviews for A Very Punchable Face, I decided to take a different approach by listening to the audiobook version narrated by Colin Jost. Although I think it would have been funny in any form, I thought this really worked for this book.
From growing up in a family of firefighters on Staten Island to commuting three hours a day to high school and “seeing the sights” (like watching a Russian woman throw a stroller off the back of a ferry), to attending Harvard while Facebook was created, to hosting Weekend Update on Saturday Night Live, Jost shares how he has navigated the world like a slightly smarter Forrest Gump.
If there’s one trait that makes someone well suited to comedy, it’s being able to take a punch—metaphorically and, occasionally, physically.
From growing up in a family of firefighters on Staten Island to commuting three hours a day to high school and “seeing the sights” (like watching a Russian woman throw a stroller off the back of a ferry), to attending Harvard while Facebook was created, Jost shares how he has navigated the world like a slightly smarter Forrest Gump.
You’ll also discover things about Jost that will surprise and confuse you, like how Jimmy Buffett saved his life, how Czech teenagers attacked him with potato salad, how an insect laid eggs inside his legs, and how he competed in a twenty-five-man match at WrestleMania (and almost won). You’ll go behind the scenes at SNL and Weekend Update (where he’s written some of the most memorable sketches and jokes of the past fifteen years). And you’ll experience the life of a touring stand-up comedian—from performing in rural college cafeterias at noon to opening for Dave Chappelle at Radio City Music Hall.
For every accomplishment (hosting the Emmys), there is a setback (hosting the Emmys). And for every absurd moment (watching paramedics give CPR to a raccoon), there is an honest, emotional one (recounting his mother’s experience on the scene of the Twin Towers’ collapse on 9/11). Told with a healthy dose of self-deprecation, A Very Punchable Face reveals the brilliant mind behind some of the dumbest sketches on television, and lays bare the heart and humor of a hardworking guy—with a face you can’t help but want to punch.
A Very Punchable Face is an endearing memoir that will make you like Colin Jost, if you do not already, or make you like him more. While often self-deprecating, Jost is also introspective and at times serious. And I enjoyed it all.
Jost recounts his Staten Island upbringing in a family of firefights, his mother’s heroism on 9/11 and after, his time at Harvard & the Lampoon (and why going to Harvard is not actually a big deal), his life at SNL, and the various ridiculous experiences he has in everyday life. I laughed quite a bit and even cried a little. And I related so much to his experiences living in New York.
Thanks to my Midwestern upbringing, I am a sucker for wholesome, and this book played into that. Jost managed to write a smart comedic memoir while being his humble, clumsy self and spilling the tea on working at SNL. I do not read many memoirs, especially those written by celebrities. But I am glad I read this one.
Overall, I really enjoyed A Very Punchable Face and would highly recommend it. The audio version was great although you miss out on some awesome-sounding pictures in the print version.
A Very Punchable Face
Nonfiction – Humor
July 14, 2020