Book Review: Well, That Escalated Quickly

well that escalated quicklyWell, That Escalated Quickly: Memoirs and Mistakes of an Accidental Activist
by Franchesca Ramsey
Memoir/Comedy
244 pages
Published May 2018

This is the third comedic memoir I’ve read by a black comedian. I don’t really know what to make of that; I’ve certainly read non-comedic memoirs from African Americans, and comedic memoirs from white people, but three comedic memoirs from African-Americans in the last year seems a little surprising. They’re all fairly new, maybe it’s just what’s been getting published recently? Or maybe it’s just a coincidence and not yet a pattern. Or maybe it’s my way of giving my brain a bit of a break from current events while still trying to read inclusively. That last one might be it.

Anyway. While I didn’t like Ramsey’s book as much as I did Trevor Noah’s or Tiffany Haddish’s books, I did really enjoy it. I didn’t really know who Ramsey was before reading her book, and that might be why I didn’t like it quite as much. This book deal with internet culture a lot more than the other two do; and that pertains to my interests. What I really enjoyed is that she talks about her missteps, how she was criticized for them, and admits that she was wrong and much of the criticism was needed. She explains how she corrected her own behavior in response and strove to be better, and that’s something we don’t see a lot of. We see half-hearted apologies and no change in behavior from a lot of internet celebrities, and Ramsey definitely tries her best to rectify her mistakes. I really liked reading about her experiences with that, as it can be such a touchy issue. No one likes to be called out. But sometimes we need to be so we can learn to be better.

I really enjoyed this one. I wouldn’t say it dealt with racism more than Noah or Haddish’s books did, but it definitely dealt with combatting racism more than they did. It talked about the activist aspect of it, and how to help.

This is the third book I’ve read from my Summer TBR list.

From the cover of Well, That Escalated Quickly:

Franchesca Ramsey didn’t set out to be an activist. Or a commentator on identity, race, and culture, really. But then her YouTube video “What White Girls Say . . . to Black Girls” went viral. Twelve million views viral. Faced with an avalanche of media requests, fan letters, and hate mail, she had to make a choice: Go all in or step back and let others frame the conversation. After a crash course in social justice – and more than a few foot-in-mouth moments – she realized she had a passion for breaking down injustice in ways that could make people listen, laugh, and engage.

Ramsey uses her own experiences as an accidental activist to explore the ways we communicate with one another – from the highs of bridging gaps and making connections to the many pitfalls that accompany talking about race, power, sexuality, and gender in an unpredictable public space . . . the internet.

A sharp and timely collection of personal essays, WELL, THAT ESCALATED QUICKLY includes Ramsey’s advice on dealing with internet trolls and low-key racists, confessions about being a former online hater herself, and her personal hits and misses in activist debates with everyone from bigoted Facebook friends and misguided relatives to mainstream celebrities and YouTube influencers. Alongside useful guides to unfriending and a glossary of “not so simple concepts,” Ramsey shows readers that mistakes are inevitable, but what’s important is how we learn from them to make a better world.

Book Review: Seriously…I’m Kidding

seriously i'm kiddingSeriously…I’m Kidding
by Ellen DeGeneres
Memoir/Comedy
241 pages
Published 2011

As part of Pride Month, I’m spotlighting books by or about GLBTQIA+ people. Ellen is one of the most prominent lesbians here in the US, between coming out on a sitcom, having her own daytime talk show, and her judging stint on American Idol. This is her third book, but the first one I’ve read. If the other two are like this one, I need to read them!

Seriously…I’m Kidding is a really funny book. It reads a little bit like an ADHD squirrel, but that’s part of its charm. I read the print version, but this is one book I might have to get the audio version of, mostly because of the one chapter she wrote specifically for the audio version:

“Anyway, since you have the benefit of being able to hear this, I thought I would include some bonus material of me making strange noises. For those of you who are reading this the old-fashioned way and can’t hear me, I’ve printed the noises below and I encourage you to use your imagination to think of what they might sound like coming out of my mouth.

Meeeeee
Faaaaaa
Cooooo
Gooooood Morning
Bowwwww
Babowwwww
Yelowwwww
(more strange noises listed)”

The book covers a lot of ground, from producing her show to judging on American Idol to coming out as lesbian to hosting dinner parties. It also varies wildly chapter to chapter, from brief short stories (less than a page) to haiku, to coloring book pages of odd things like toasters, to prose, wandering chapters that are an interesting look at Ellen’s thought process.

I really enjoyed this book, and it’s definitely worth reading because it’s just FUN.

You can find all my Pride Month reads listed here.

From the cover of Seriously…I’m Kidding:

Welcome to my third book. Inside this book you will find an assortment of wonderful things – words, pictures, advice, tidbits, morsels, shenanigans, and in some copies, four hundred dollars cash. So you might want to buy a few.

I’m so happy you’re holding this book in your hands right now and reading its jacket or flap or whatever you want to call this little extra part of the book. Jackap or Flacket or Flapjacket. Whatever, really.

I don’t have enough room on this flapjacket to tell you all the reasons why you should buy this book, but I can tell you this and it’s a guarantee: If you buy it, you will feel better, look better, be happier, grow taller, lose weight, get a promotion at work, have shinier hair, and fall madly, deeply in love.

And as an added bonus feature I’d like to point out that this flapjacket doubles as a bookmark. So you’re paying for a book and you’re getting a bookmark absolutely free. Where else are you going to find that kind of deal?

Now, before you begin reading, if you’d like to learn more about me please turn to the back flap. (Back flap sounds weird, doesn’t it? The more you say it the more it sounds like something you try to get rid of through exercise and eating right. Anyway, please read on.)

Friday 56 – Seriously…I’m Kidding

seriously i'm kidding

The Friday 56 is hosted by Freda’s Voice. The rules are simple – turn to page 56 in your current read (or 56% in your e-reader) and post a few non-spoilery sentences.

Today’s quote is from Seriously…I’m Kidding by Ellen DeGeneres. This book is hysterical and random!

I once went into work and showed some producers a little bruise I got. The next thing I knew it was like Girls Gone Wild in my office. People were lifting up their shirts, rolling up their pants. Socks were coming off. “you think that’s bad – I walked into a tree yesterday!” “I banged my hip on a car door!” “I sat on a fork!” Don’t need to see it.

This is one of my reads for Pride Month, and the review should be up in a few days!

Book Review: The Last Black Unicorn

blackunicornThe Last Black Unicorn
by Tiffany Haddish
Comedy/Memoir
276 pages
Published December 2017

I’ve been wanting to read this book ever since I saw Haddish’s interview on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah. This woman is HILARIOUS. Somehow I didn’t realize she was in the movie Girls Night until I read about it in her book – I really do need to see that movie. That aside, this book was pretty great. It’s written in her speaking style, so it’s not technically correct grammar, but it SOUNDS right, which is more important in a memoir, in my opinion. It’s supposed to show the author’s personality, and this does.

I don’t know that I’d put this on quite the same level as Trevor Noah’s Born A Crime, or Jenny Lawson’s Furiously Happy, but it’s not far behind them. Haddish talks about her childhood in the foster system and then raised by her grandmother, her string of no-good boyfriends, and her abusive marriage. She’s had a rough life, but somehow she’s come out of it with a gift for comedy and a grounded personality.

Her swamp tour with Will Smith and Jada Pinkett-Smith is one of the most hilarious stories in the book, and one of the few that is purely funny. Most of them are underscored with a serious issue that make me feel a little bad for laughing at them, but Haddish laughs at them, so how can you not? It’s an interesting conflict that leaves me with slightly mixed feelings about the book.

It’s a pretty quick, easy, fun read, and if you like Tiffany Haddish, it definitely shows what she’s gone through to get where she is now.

From the cover of The Last Black Unicorn:

From stand-up comedian, actress, and breakout star of Girls Trip, Tiffany Haddish, comes The Last Black Unicorn, a sidesplitting, hysterical, edgy, and unflinching collection of (extremely) personal essays, as fearless as the author herself.

Growing up in one of the poorest neighborhoods of South Central Los Angeles, Tiffany learned to survive by making people laugh. If she could do that, then her classmates would let her copy their homework, the other foster kids she lived with wouldn’t beat her up, and she might even get a boyfriend. Or at least she could make enough money—as the paid school mascot and in-demand Bar Mitzvah hype woman—to get her hair and nails done, so then she might get a boyfriend.

None of that worked (and she’s still single), but it allowed Tiffany to imagine a place for herself where she could do something she loved for a living: comedy.

Tiffany can’t avoid being funny—it’s just who she is, whether she’s plotting shocking, jaw-dropping revenge on an ex-boyfriend or learning how to handle her newfound fame despite still having a broke person’s mind-set. Finally poised to become a household name, she recounts with heart and humor how she came from nothing and nowhere to achieve her dreams by owning, sharing, and using her pain to heal others.

By turns hilarious, filthy, and brutally honest, The Last Black Unicorn shows the world who Tiffany Haddish really is—humble, grateful, down-to-earth, and funny as hell. And now, she’s ready to inspire others through the power of laughter.

#JubilantJuly – July 10 – Onomatopoeia

OinkMan that’s a hard word to spell. Anyway. Real Ponies Don’t Go Oink is a collection of comedic essays by Patrick F. McManus – he’s written several books – A Fine and Pleasant Misery, They Shoot Canoes, Don’t They? and several others. The vast majority of them have put my father into hysterics more than once (the one about panicking in the woods and ping-ponging off trees while running and screaming is a particularly vivid memory of mine) and they are pretty funny. They’re focused on the outdoors and outdoor activities, though there’s the occasional essay on marriage and parenting and family life as well. I am not sure where my copies have gone, unfortunately. I use to own the three I have listed. (My father – or maybe my grandfather – owned everything McManus has written.) If you like the outdoors (or want validation for NOT liking it!) these are great books.

The index post for Jubilant July can be found here.

#JubilantJuly – July 4 – Reds Whites and Blues

Another comedian today. Colbert this time, as his alter ego, Stephen Colbert the conservative dingbat. This book is several years old now, but still a hilarious read. I’m so happy to see Colbert still doing what he loves, and still lampooning politicians every night on The Late Show. The man is one of my role models.

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