Women are funny. Here are the books to prove it, from Ali Wong, Jenny Lawson, Mindy Kaling and more
It's a tired old trope, "women are just not funny." It's an accusation that has been trotted out for years. In 2007, the late Christopher Hitchens published his well-known essay "Why Women Aren’t Funny" in "Vanity Fair," writing "why are women, who have the whole male world at their mercy, not funny? Please do not pretend not to know what I am talking about."
Since then, every few years the age-old debate begins anew. Just before the pandemic, there was an actual scientific study published that probed the question if men are funnier than women. You can guess the answer.
Our question is: Has no one been reading? It's not that women aren't funny, it's that apparently no one has been paying attention.
From the current crop of female essayists and humorists, we've chosen 10 women who prove what we have known all along. Women are funny. Really funny. We have the books to prove it.
Irby began her writing career in 2009 with her blog, which led to her first book "Meaty," published in 2013. "Meaty" hit a nerve with its raw honesty and raunchy humor surrounding such topics as family, sex and her lifetime struggle with Crohn's disease. The Lambda Award-winning writer followed up with "We Are Never Meeting in Real Life" and USA TODAY's bestselling "Wow, No Thank You." Irby's writing has crossed over to television: she wrote an episode of Hulu's "Shrill," a series based on pal Lindy West's book of the same name, and was a co-producer and writer for HBO's "And Just Like That..." Her publisher confirms more books coming, and they can't get here soon enough.
You may know the comic best by her popular podcast 2 Dope Queens, hosted with Jessica Williams, and its subsequent series on HBO. But we love her best as the writer of laugh-out-loud books "You Can't Touch My Hair and Other Things I Still Have to Explain," "Everything's Trash, But It's Okay" and "Please Don't Sit on My Bed in Your Outside Clothes." There is no topic she shies away from, covering race, gender, politics, sexuality and her love of reality TV.
West has written serious, gut-punching essays on racism, sexism and fat-shaming for years. She is also funny as hell. "Shrill," her first book, is the basis for the eponymous comedic series on Hulu. West followed that up with 2019's "The Witches Are Coming." A former movie critic for Seattle's alt newsweekly "The Stranger," West returns to her roots with her most recent book, a swear-world-laden "Definitive, 100% Objective Guide to Modern Cinema" in which West takes on such iconic films as "Love Actually," "The Shawshank Redemption" and "Top Gun" and hysterically compares them to what West believes is the one truly great film of the last 40 years: Harrison Ford's "The Fugitive."
The British journalist has been writing for The Times in Britain since 1992 and currently writes two weekly columns. But many Americans know her by her books, particularly 2011's bestseller "How to Be a Woman" and 2020's "More Than a Woman." Moran has also written the essay collections "Moranthology" and "Moranifesto," as well as the semi-autographical novel "How to Build a Girl" and its sequel "How to Be Famous." Her skills at balancing serious topics such as feminism, gender and politics with the silly are sublime.
Lawson, aka "the Bloggess," has penned several books, all USA TODAY bestsellers, including "Let's Pretend This Never Happened," "Furiously Happy" and "Broken (In the Best Possible Way)." Lawson balances topics as weighty as her struggles with mental illness and as lighthearted as her love of taxidermy. In her most recent book, "Broken: (In the Best Possible Way)," Lawson begins the essay "An Open Letter to My Health Insurance Company" with the dramatic and deadpan line, "Sometimes I think you want me dead."
Anna Lind Thomas
Thomas' viral essay "The Fart That (Almost) Altered My Destiny" launched her to success on the internet, where she began finding the humor in everything. She followed that up with more viral essays, including "10 Things Women Do Alone" and "An Open Letter to the Idiots Who Don't Notice My Baby." Thomas blends funny, heartfelt essays with her Christian faith in 2021's "We'll All Laugh About This (Someday): Essays on Taking Life a Smidge Too Seriously." And to think it all started with an ill-timed fart.
The comic, actor, writer, host and producer has put pen to paper for more than a decade, writing six books, all but one of which are USA TODAY bestsellers: "My Horizontal Life," "Are You There, Vodka? It's Me, Chelsea," "Chelsea Chelsea Bang Bang," "Uganda Be Kidding Me" and "Life Will Be the Death of You Too!." (Sorry, "Lies That Chelsea Handler Told Me.") It's been three years since Handler's last collection of insightful, funny and killer prose. We can't wait to see what she writes next.
Smart, droll and universal are just a few words that describe Crosley's writing, which has appeared in Vanity Fair, The Independent and The New York Times. Her first book of essays, 2008's "I Was Told There'd Be Cake," was followed up with 2010's "How Did You Get This Number" and 2018's "Look Alive Out There." Between, Crosley has written a few novels, including 2015's "The Clasp," in which friends go in search of a necklace, and this year's upcoming "Cult Classic," in which a single woman is visited by boyfriends past (out in June).
In 2019, the comic and actress gifted us with the book "Dear Girls: Intimate Tales, Untold Secrets and Advice for Living Your Best Life," love letter to her daughters comprised of humorous and heartfelt letters that explain dating, living the single life, working in a male-dominated profession and how she met their father. It struck a chord with readers and made a splash on USA TODAY's bestsellers list. Is it okay to ask Wong to pen another collection of love letters? Perhaps written for the rest of us? We'd be first in line.
Kaling broke out as a star and writer for hit series "The Office." The actress, producer and writer makes us laugh in many mediums, books being one of them. She hit the USA TODAY bestsellers list with her first two books, "Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (and Other Concerns)" in 2011 and "Why Not Me?" in 2015. She made the process interactive when she published a collection of conversation starters titled "Questions I Ask When I Want to Talk About Myself." We know Kaling is currently busy with multiple projects, but we think it is about time that she return to writing, at least in book form. After all, she started her own publishing imprint this year, so we think maybe she has a good chance at a contract.
In 2011 Fey, the multi-hyphenate "Saturday Night Live" alum and "30 Rock" star gave us the USA TODAY bestseller "Bossypants," which stayed on our list for 77 weeks. But it has been more than a decade since Fey released her autobiographical collection of essays. And we want a follow-up. USA TODAY's review of Bossypants opens with: "It's not every day you read something that makes you laugh out loud every other page. Then again, Tina Fey doesn't write a book every day. Maybe she should." We agree. Plenty has happened since 2011, just the last five years with Trump, Covid is more than enough to fill a second book. We are waiting!