Sunday, July 21, 2019

I Know I Am, But What Are You? by Samantha Bee

I watch Full-Frontal with Samantha Bee religiously and consider her a national treasure. Unfortunately, since she's Canadian, she's not my national treasure, but that's a technicality I'm willing to overlook. She's so funny and so witty and so down to earth, and I love her blazers. You could chalk this up to good writers and good stylists, of course, but you can also kind of tell when comedians are dialing it in and using their staff as a crutch, and I feel like Samantha Bee is the real deal; the proof is in the memoir.

This is the first non-ARC review I've done in a while-- I bought this book with my own money-- so if this book comes off as "too glowing," know that I had a fiscal stake in the outcome. I like Bee, so it makes sense I'd want to read her memoir. I love knowing what my favorite comedians are up to. Comedians are funny, except when they aren't. Sometimes comedians decide they want to write a serious memoir to show that they have depth. I call that a "bait and switch." If someone picks up a memoir written by a comedian, it's a sure bet they want to laugh, not navel-gaze, although YMMV.

I KNOW I AM, BUT WHAT ARE YOU? is a loosely-connected series of essays that don't follow any particular chronology or organizational technique. The only thing they have in common is that they're weird. Samantha Bee tells us, with tongue firmly in cheek, of the time she and her family decided to tag along to someone's honeymoon. She also describes, super casually, of her flirtation with grand-theft auto. Then there's her porn-inspired reenactions that she did with her Barbie dolls as a child, much to the delight and then the general disgust of her then-friends. And, my personal favorite: how she met her current husband while they were both dressed up as anime characters.

I'm giving this a three-star rating because it was very funny and is definitely written in her voice. The whole time I was reading it, I could imagine her speaking to me-- and that made it even funnier. I'm also giving it a three-star rating because it wasn't very organized and sometimes an essay would begin one way and end up talking about something totally different, which can be fun, but it was also very confusing and sometimes ended up being hard to follow.

If you like Samantha Bee, or memoirs written by comedians (especially women), this is a great book to pick up. Samantha Bee is one of my favorite comedians and I'm very happy to see that she seems just as charming and authentic on paper as she does on screen. If you haven't already, start watching Full Frontal, as well. It's the only way I consume unpleasant political news these days; her edgy humor and perfect delivery give it the fun sugar-coating I so desperately need.

3 to 3.5 out of 5 stars

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