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  • Writer's pictureStand-Up Comedy Historian

The Best Books Written by My Favorite Comics

Updated: Dec 17, 2023

While my website is ostensibly about live stand-up comedy, I wanted to point out some of my favorite books that were written by well-known comedians.

Most of these are collections of stories or drawings, while some—like James Acaster's newest work—play with adopting personas and describing their experiences from that new perspective.

Let's take a look!

Bo Burnham—available in paperback and audiobook editions

If you're a fan of Shel Silverstein's delightfully absurd poems, you're sure to enjoy Bo's take on dogs being less intelligent than pigs, the trials of being a Cyclops, and roller snakes. A must-read for any Bo fan, and the audiobook version is even better!

CW: This is NOT a book for kids to read due to having lots of profanity and explicit imagery. You've been warned!

[Ed. note: If you'd like to see a child-friendly version of Bo's poetry book, I've compiled his cleanest poems here.]

James Acaster—all works are available in paperback and audiobook editions

This is a collection of James Acaster's bizarre true-life stories. From being pranked with cabbage to the origin of the Humpty Dumpty song that inspired him to perform for a living, James digs into all of his crazy "scrapes" for your enjoyment. And, again, the audiobook is fantastic!

If you've watched his latest critically acclaimed special Cold Lasagne Hate Myself 1999, you should recall that 2017 was a rough time for James. His girlfriend had broken up with him at the start of that year and he had become suicidal in the aftermath. One thing he decided to channel all his thoughts into was exploring all of the amazing music that had come out the year before, and this book is the outcome of that hyperfixation. James is a true connoisseur of music (check out his band Temps), and he's always up for new album recommendations!

With his latest venture into writing, James has decided to eschew his real life and get back to persona-based comedy a la Repertoire. The result is his funniest tale yet about being a pioneer on MySpace and becoming addicted to social media to then explaining how he "overcame" that addiction (e.g., painting over his devices with tar). A must-read for fans of James and his absurdly hilarious outlook on life—can't wait for volume 2! (heh)

Fun fact: I had never heard of the term "crèche" before reading this book. We call them daycare centers in the States!

Promo videos:

Book announcement (persona in full effect lol):

Audiobook (highly recommended!):

Demetri Martin—

In Demetri's first and best published work, the absurdist wordplay comic has written short stories that conjure up new worlds where time travel exists and megaphones are the best accessory EVER. Plus, there are drawings, equations, and so much more!

Be sure to check out the funeral eulogy story about a townie who got all the chicks—it made me cry with laughter! And, of course, the audiobook version adds a lot of depth to the experience.

This is Demetri's first book entirely composed of drawings. If you've seen any of his comedy routine, you'll know the sketchpad is an omnipresent feature of his shows, and Demetri loves sketching whimsical takes on everyday life (observational comedy with an absurdist twist). An easy read and very fun!

This is Demetri's second published book of drawings. Another light but fun read.

Raphael-Bob Waksberg—

Do you love BoJack Horseman as much as I do? If so, I highly recommend its creator's book of short stories. The writing is absolutely delightful (the wedding ritual story kills me each time), and the audiobook version is even better with many celebrities pitching in to read like Stephanie Beatriz from Brooklyn Nine-Nine.

Amy Sedaris, Paul Dinello, Stephen Colbert—

This is a somewhat rare comedy book but, oh boy, is it phenomenally written by the team behind one of my favorite shows, Strangers With Candy. The trio spin the tale of an intrepid writer penning his own story about a trashy "town" that is likely to be flooded and lose its rich history of strip clubs and auto parts stores.

This book absolutely necessitates listening to the audiobook version if you can locate it (I bought it with my then-boyfriend and we listened to it in the car, dying laughing over Amy and Stephen's accents). Enjoy, and I plan to do a full deep dive into this work in the future!

Happy reading!


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