Review: Girl With No Job | Claudia Oshry

I think the goal of just about everyone is to eventually become a person with no job, living comfortably without a care in the world aside from future plagues, a failed economy, unreasonable living prices, American Idol being renewed for 40 more seasons, and the possibility of running out of retirement money before dying. Thanks to the rise of the “influencer”, this is the goal for just about everyone aged 12 and up. But if you’re thinking that reading Girl With No Job by Claudia Oshry will give you insight as to how to make that happen, don’t bother. I’ll just tell you…

She was already rich. Yes, the Girl With No Job didn’t have to have one, so she spent all her time creating (but primarily repurposing) content on her Instagram and voilá, she became an influencer and even wealthier. Unfortunately, her knack for reposting other peoples memes (which I didn’t realize was considered a “talent”) does not translate when it comes to writing books.

First, Claudia has lived a privileged 26 years which doesn’t really afford much in the storytelling department. With the exception of the tragic passing of her father, there’s not much substance to anything in this book. She literally has a chapter on the types of fans. Not the ones with blades (hopefully), the kind that follow you on social media. She even breaks them down into categories. It’s mind-numbing.

She talks about how famous she is and how ahead of her time she was and how she was cutting edge for having a blog in 2013, something everyone with a MySpace account in 2005 had. She also wants you to know she’s funny. In fact, she reminds you that she’s funny in every chapter of the book, although she doesn’t actually tell any jokes in her book to substantiate her claims (unless you count the Lindsay Lohan reference she makes in chapter 5 to which my response is “um, 2009 called…”).

She also talks about the time she got canceled thanks to her failed mention that her mother is a right-wing conspiracy theorist – something she didn’t really need to mention, quite frankly. What does it matter who her mother is? That shouldn’t be the reason you abandon her. The reason should be that she’s openly admitted to having a hatred for reading and now she has a book that she also openly admits is because she has an audience to sell it to (let that sink in for a minute all of my fellow aspiring authors).

The worst part? It’s horrendously written. Think of all the tricks you used in middle school to make your essay longer. That’s this. Bigger font. Repeat sentences that are just restructured. Reading this book is like having a conversation with someone you have nothing in common with because you like a lot of different things and they only like themselves. It reads as though it was dictated by Siri onto a Google doc.

Aside from the fact that she’s one of the hundreds of Instagram accounts that reposts other people’s memes, I knew nothing about Claudia and now, I still don’t. If I’m going off of this book then I have to say there’s just not much to her. And even then, I can see that there’s a market for this shit. She’s living the dream of anyone trying to become “Internet famous”. If that’s you, you’ll probably like this book as you’ll get to fantasize what your life will be like if you “make it”. If that’s not you, anything with a reading level of 2nd grade and up will be better than Girl With No Job.

But what do I know? I’m a Geek With an Actual Job Who’s Writing This For Free. Book probably not coming soon. Size 12 font.

Review: The Meaning of Mariah | Mariah Carey

Years ago, I had a dream of being a famous singer. Back then you had to really work for it. There was no TikTok or YouTube to propel a talentless individual into the spotlight. No. Back then, you had to find a way to get in front of record executives. I tried cold-calling them using my sales tactics that I learned from my telemarketing job but it didn’t pan out. Then, a miracle in the form of a talent show appeared: American Idol was auditioning for season 2.

The day before the audition I decided I should probably rehearse. I chose a Mariah Carey song and practiced for about 10 minutes in our dining room. I thought I sounded great. My then 7-year-old sister wanted to know why I was screaming. Either way, it didn’t matter. When we got to the venue they’d already reached their cut-off so I couldn’t audition, which was probably for the best since I was prepared to walk in there and SING A MARIAH CAREY SONG. I still live with that blind optimism and confidence, by the way. But just like no one can sing Mariah Carey like Mariah Carey, I don’t do confidence the way she does.

I just finished reading Mariah Carey’s book, The Meaning of Mariah, and I never knew how amazing she actually was until she told me. I had zero intentions of reading this book, but during her appearance on Andy Cohen and Anderson Cooper’s New Year’s Eve special she kept talking about her book and how she wrote it and her book was her answer to every question she got asked so I felt like I had no choice but to read it.

It’s actually not bad but is also exactly what I expected: the story of her life mixed with praise for herself. If you’ve ever seen the movie Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping, you’ll recall a scene where, playing herself, she says “I’m probably the most humble person I know.” That’s the entire tone of the book.

HOWEVER, it’s also incredibly inspirational, believe it or not. I was completely unaware of her hardships. The hardest time I thought she endured was the period of her life that was that shit Glitter (she even talks about the infamous TRL publicity stunt that went terrible and made her look batshit crazy, at least she did to me). She had a pretty rough upbringing, growing up around addiction, rage, and poverty. Her drive to make it out and achieve her dreams of becoming the superstar diva she is today is pretty motivational. And now I get why she celebrates anniversaries instead of birthdays and sometimes acts like a kid with a credit card.

She also goes into full detail about her time with Tommy Mottola. I remember when she was married to him and I also remember thinking she became a star because she married him. I was also like 13 when that went down so what did I know? The answer is nothing because the reason she married him and the shit she endured while she was with him is nowhere near as light-hearted as being a gold digger.

She has a great story and while it’s not without her mentioning her thousands of accolades she’s collected over the years – and I mean like every single story has some sort of praise for her, by her – it somehow doesn’t take away from the point of it: never give up. That’s the point of a lot of memoirs I suppose, but this one’s pretty legit. Of course it is, it’s Mariah Carey.

The Meaning of Mariah is a pretty good read, just ask Mariah Carey. She’ll tell you all about it.

Photo by: Rolling Stone because I was too lazy to take a picture

Review: What Would Keanu Do? | Chris Barsanti

Here’s a piece of trivia about me that might come in handy one day. My first adult crush was Keanu Reeves. I was 11 and because it was a simpler time, I was introduced to him via his movie Speed. I so badly wanted to be trapped on a bus that was about to explode if it meant he would save me. Unfortunately, the only bus I rode was the school bus and its biggest problem was it didn’t have air conditioning.

Anyway, I loved Keanu Reeves, solely on the fact that he was (and still is) hot. When you’re young, “being hot” is enough to think someone is perfect. When you get older, you realize (hopefully) that “hot” can only go so far. We look for other traits such as they’re loving, caring, smart, have a great sense of humor. Basically we hope they’re an all-around decent human being.

Well, guess what. It turns out, 11-year-old me was right. Keanu Reeves is perfect because he is all of those things. If you don’t believe me, then you should grab a copy of What Would Keanu Do? by Chris Barsanti and get ready to feel like the terrible human you are. I know I did.

Books like this tend to read like a self-help book but for the most part, it’s really just a collection of all of his amazing qualities and responses and good deeds put together in 142 pages that’s probably aimed at getting us to be better humans.

From charitable contributions to random acts of kindness, his actions prove that if we are all a little more Keanu, the world would be a little better.

What Would Keanu Do? is a quick read and is great for anyone who is still recovering from the nightmare that was 2020. Enjoy!

Next book: Little Weirds by Jenny Slate

My favorite book of the year and some other ones I liked: 2020 Edition.

There’s never been a better year for books. Books were the escape we needed from this prank of a year and luckily, there were a few good ones to keep us occupied. Now, I don’t always read what’s new but I do try my best to keep up with what comes out and in 2020, there was one book that was so good and cry-laugh funny that it made my “I’m going to read this a lot of times” list.

A Very Punchable Face by Colin Jost

A Very Punchable Face by Colin Jost is my pick for my favorite books of the year. It’s hilarious, really funny, and made me laugh out loud a lot. If you haven’t read it, add it to your 2021 list. It’ll be on mine!

I did read a few books that, even under lockdown, I didn’t have time to write about so I figured now was a good time to mention them.

Bare Bones and Fight. Grind. Repeat. by Bobby Bones. Fun Fact: back in like 2003, Bobby Bones – who’d just launched his show – hosted his own version of American Idol in Austin, TX. I auditioned. I sang something by Evanescence believing that I sounded like Amy Lee and as you can probably tell by the fact that I’m sitting on my couch writing this instead of getting paid to make singing Cameo’s, I did not advance to the next round. I did however get to meet Bobby Bones and he was such a sweetheart. His books are both amazing reads and incredibly inspirational. From his very rough upbringing, to his determination and the grind to become a radio personality (something we can all agree he’s done pretty well), his books are real page-turners. Whatever your goals are for 2021, I suggest adding both of his books to your “to read” list for some great motivation.

Yes, I Can Say That by Judy Gold. OK so this book isn’t for everyone, particularly those who offend easily or pretend to be offended. It’s hard to make people laugh these days because it seems like people just want to be mad. Not that they don’t have a reason, everything sucks but take it out on the shit you’re mad at – not someone who made a joke. The biggest problem is people take jokes personally because, thanks to social media and helicopter parents, they think everything is about them. Newsflash: it’s not. You’re making yourself feel bad, not the joke or the person who said it. And that’s why I love this book. Judy Gold nails this trend of getting butt-hurt beautifully and explains how it’s come to this and why everyone needs to bring it down to about a three-and-a-half. And if this is starting to make you mad, I wasn’t talking about you! You see what me and Judy Gold mean?!

Another comedian who’s addressed this before is the man himself, Mr. Jerry Seinfeld, who also happens to be the author of the last book on this list: Is This Anything? If you’re a fan of his then chances are you’ll enjoy his book. Is This Anything? is a collection of his notes that he’s written over the years for his act, accompanied by a backstory for each decade. I’m a huge Seinfeld fan; believe it or not one of the things I love about his comedy is he’s a clean comic. I have to use at least 3 curse words per post – I’m not as entertaining without them. Additionally, I can relate just about any real life situation to his show (I’ve got a Snoopy and Prickly Pete story in the works!) even today. If you’re a fan Jerry Seinfeld, I highly suggest picking up a copy of Is This Anything?

I’ve got an ambitious goal of reading a book a week in 2021. First up: What Would Keanu Do? by Chris Barsanti.

What book are you kicking your year off with?

Review: A Very Punchable Face|Colin Jost

“To my mom and dad, and my brother, Casey. You’re like family to me.” It’s Colin Jost’s dedication and the very first joke of his book. Simple, absolutely hilarious, and sets the tone for the entire book.

In reading his memoir, A Very Punchable Face, it’s easy to see why Colin Jost is the head writer for Saturday Night Live as well as holds the coveted position as one of the hosts of Weekend Update. Simply put, Colin is one hell of a writer. It didn’t even feel like I was reading his book – it felt like I was listening to someone tell ridiculous stories about their childhood, how they got their dream job, and getting punched in the face.

His stories are awesome, particularly the one about his MOM WORKING AS A FIREFIGHTER DURING 911 AND BEING A HERO. There are no stories of hardship but his account of the events that unfolded that day tug at the heartstrings, and is an incredible story.

Aside from his 911 story, my favorite of his accounts are the ones that involve the development of his writing career. His work ethic is something to be admired and mirrored. Careers like his don’t just happen. He worked hard to earn his spot at SNL and continues to work hard as one of the top comedic writers in the business.

The world is a shit show, and it’s time we start laughing at legitimate things. Let one of those things be Colin Jost’s memoir, A Very Punchable Face. You will not be disappointed.

Review: Solutions And Other Problems | Allie Brosh

Recently, a woman I used to work with launched a YouTube channel in the hopes of becoming a YouTube star. Yup – just her, a web cam, and 30 minutes of bullshit. Her drinking coffee. Her talking about nothing. Her foam rolling with her crotch RIGHT on the camera. We’re talking OBGYN views.

And you know what? She’s probably going to get some sort of endorsement deal for shorts that keep your beaver from falling out and this will lead to more deals and she’ll become a millionaire. All for having a rambling vagina.

It’s not fair and makes zero sense, and that’s the point. Nothing is fair and nothing makes sense. All of those Instagram quotes that give you hope, that make you feel better about your shit boss or cheating significant other – yeah they don’t mean anything.

Sometimes things just are the way they are and it’s up to you to figure it out. Over the years I’ve learned this, and so has Allie Brosh. Except her way of explaining it is way more entertaining because she uses drawings.

I’ve been waiting for Solutions and Other Problems to drop for years and the wait was well worth it. It’s not been an easy few years for Allie but if anyone can explain the complexities of tragedy, loss, and the human emotions behind them in a humorous, engrossing way, she can.

In her follow up to Hyperbole and a Half, Allie details her journey that kept her off of the internet for 7 years, leaving us all to anxiously await her return. While on her hiatus, Allie experienced in a short time what some experience over a lifetime: mental and physical health issues, a divorce, and the untimely passing of her younger sister.

And yet, despite having to endure these hardships all at once, she manages to tell her story with humor, strength, and her signature cartoons we all love – over 500 pages of them, to be exact. If there’s been anything good about 2020, it’s the return of Allie Brosh and her book, Problems and Other Solutions.

Welcome back, Allie!

Review: Weird But Normal | Mia Mercado

Nothing makes me happier than knowing I’m not the only one who adopted the personality of a fictional character when I was a kid (it’s been a long year so it takes very little). For Mia Mercado, it was Annie. For me, it was Wednesday Addams. I also enjoy relating to someone on the ridiculousness of our AIM screen names.

SIDE NOTE: for all you “I wasn’t born yet/I was a baby back then” assholes, AIM stands for AOL Instant Messenger. It was basically text messaging with dial-up.

What I’m getting at is, it makes me happy to relate to someone who is both normal and weird at the same time – hence the name of her appropriately titled book, Weird But Normal. Relatable stories are where it’s at and for me, Mia Mercado’s book is full of them. From adventures in hair discovery and shaving to people getting confused about our ethnicity to quitting a job and changing your life (she lasted 2 months, I quit after 3 weeks – story coming soon), her book made me feel like I was in the company of a friend.

BONUS: Weird But Normal includes some of her published essays, including my favorite, “I’m a Guy’s Girl” – it’s accurate and absolutely hilarious.

Funny and full of essays that can jog anyone’s embarrassing, repressed adolescent memories, Weird But Normal is a book that reminds all of us weirdos that there are more of us than we think. Everything and everyone is weird, and that is perfectly normal.

Do yourself a favor. Take a break from the horrors of 2020, buy Weird But Normal by Mia Mercado, and enjoy some weird normalcy in a time where everything is horrifically weird.

Read more reviews that are WAY more review-y than this and buy Weird But Normal here.

Review: The Last Black Unicorn | Tiffany Haddish

I have a dream. And that dream is to one day be a guest on Comedy Central’s Drunk History, both as an actress and as a drunk person. No, really. I realize most dreams consist of purchasing homes or getting a Master’s degree. Not me. I want to be drunk on national TV talking about Sacagawea. I love that show. Believe it or not, it’s very educational. Beyond history lessons that may or may not be accurate, I’ve discovered comedic writers and comedians that I’m ashamed to admit I didn’t know about – one of those being the incredibly funny Tiffany Haddish. That’s correct. I’d heard of her before but didn’t really know who she was until I saw her episode of Drunk History.

She absolutely cracked me up so I immediately wanted to know more about her. And what do you do when you want to learn more about someone? You read their memoir. (Anyone who is anyone has a memoir. Wake up.)

Co-written by the hilarious Tucker Max, I read her book in two days. I would’ve read it in one but I had to work. Some bull.

To begin, the entire book is written in her voice, literally. It was like the audio version was playing in my head as I read it. At first, it was a little odd but once I got past the Invitation I understood why it was written the way it was written: this was Tiffany’s story being told her way.

The backstory to Tiffany’s success includes an upbringing most of us couldn’t fathom. From surviving the mistreatment by her mother who suffered from a brain injury to leaving a physically and mentally abusive husband, the road to comedic stardom was a rough one. It’s not all heartache, though. She also includes hilarious anecdotes, one of which details the revenge she got on her ex-boyfriend that involves a sex tape, a holiday, and the movie Charlies Angels.

While I would’ve liked to have seen more about her career, the point of her book is to deliver hope. Deep and honest, Tiffany’s book provides inspiration for anyone who has been or is in a place where it’s hard to see the light. It’s there, and some of it is found in her book. Give it a read and also, watch her episode of Drunk History – there’ s a whole lot of learning between the two.

Review: The Tao of Bill Murray |Gavin Edwards

I have a problem, and that problem is when it comes to work I have a hard time saying ‘no’ when someone asks me for a favor. This leads to me over-extending myself, which stresses me out, resulting in my transformation into a volcano of rage. The mere thought of having to add anything – like say doing the dishes or brushing my hair – to my already packed schedule pushes me over the edge. Knowing that at any moment I could be asked a question gives me the superhuman strength a mother conjures up when she needs to lift a car off her child. If you see a house being hurled across the country, it’s me – somebody asked me how my day was going.

Then there’s my phone – it’s given me PTSD. Gone are the days when my biggest first world problem was bot calls. Now it’s actual humans. The second my phone lights up or makes a sound I break out in shingles. Oh God, it’s ringing again. Hello? Can I design a Trivia Night scorecard? Yeah, I can do that.

It’s a pisser of a position to be in: on the one hand, I’m getting paid. On the other, I now hate everyone. I don’t necessarily want to tell them to fuck off, mainly because my check would fuck off as well, but I do want to be in a position where I’m doing more of what I want to do. And who better to learn that from than the legendary Mr. Bill Murray.

Bill Murray didn’t write his own book because Bill Murray is too cool for that. The Tao of Bill Murray by Gavin Edwards is not your typical biography. While he does start at the beginning of Bill Murray’s life, the stories bounce around to fit the 10 Principles of Bill Murray, the bulk of what makes up the book. I won’t tell you what they are but I will tell you they’re exactly what you’d expect. All of his principles basically add up to this: do what makes you happy and include others in that happiness. By the way, the “things” that make Bill Murray happy are probably a little different from yours or mine. His “things include stealing a street cleaner, crashing Elvis’ funeral, and an incident where he rolled a pretentious fan into the ocean per his agreement to sign autographs for her.

Beyond some great stories – like Bill tossing banana peels at people’s feet while they walked just to see their reaction – are some great lines delivered by the G.O.A.T. One of my many favorite lines was delivered when someone shouted a line from Ghostbusters at him – his reply: “The Ghostbusters thing is not going to go away until somebody kills themselves with one of the toys.” And there’s plenty more where that gem came from.

Anyway, while us mere mortals could never get away with some of the stunts he pulls, at the very least this book is an escape – who needs fiction when his life is better than? But there’s more than just escapism. Reading The Tao of Bill Murray is a great reminder to make the most of life – enjoy every bit of it. Everything is horrible, why make it worse by spending your days going things you hate?

So, on this wonderful Friday the 13th, I’m proposing two things: the first is to buy and read this book. Then, after you read it, do what I’m about to do: spend a week doing more of what I feel like doing and more of what makes me happy (as long as these things are within the confines of the law. This isn’t Dexter). Also, try not to get fired, unless that’s what you want. The point is things are terrible. Let’s channel our inner-Bill Murray and at least for a week, make things a little more fun…. starting tomorrow. I’m helping a client address envelopes today.

Review: Failure is An Option | H. Jon Benjamin

image1-4OK, so here’s the deal with this book: it’s hilarious. I’m talking it made me cry-laugh. H. Jon details his failures from childhood to his most recent – failing to do two different voices for Bob (Bob’s Burgers) and Archer (Archer, duh). What I love most is this book never turns inspirational. There’s no advice on how to achieve his level of success. Nothing on how to become a voice-over artist or secure spokesperson deals. None of that.

No. This isn’t a book about failing your way to success. It’s a book about failing at things and I, for one, am all about hearing these kinds of stories. Inspiration is so 2014. It’s time to embrace our shortcomings. Stories of failure are the greatest, especially because I have so many.

I failed at becoming a singer. I failed at every sport I ever played. I failed at being a breakdancer. I failed at being in a beauty pageant. I failed at working for the UFC. I failed at convincing my parents to let me miss the first day of my senior year of high school because I had told people I was moving to Dallas and I thought missing a day would make it believable. I have failed, and nothing makes me happier than to share these stories with you the way H. Jon Benjamin shared his with us.

So, if you want a good laugh and are interested in reading stories that might spark memories of your past failures that might also make you laugh, this is the book for you. H. Jon Benjamin is a treasure and so is his book. Enjoy!