At the height of the McCarthy era, an experimental theater troupe set up shop in a bar near the University of Chicago. Via word-of-mouth, astonished crowds packed the ad-hoc venue to see its unscripted, interactive, consciousness-raising style. From this unlikely seed grew the Second City, the massively influential comedy theater troupe, and its offshoots--the Groundlings, Upright Citizens Brigade, SNL, and a slew of others.
Sam Wasson charts the meteoric rise of improv in this richly reported, scene-driven narrative that, like its subject, moves fast and digs deep. He shows us the chance meeting at a train station between Mike Nichols and Elaine May. We hang out at the after-hours bar Dan Aykroyd opened so that friends like John Belushi, Bill Murray, and Gilda Radner would always have a home. We go behind the scenes of landmark entertainments from The Graduate to Caddyshack, The Forty-Year Old Virgin to The Colbert Report. Along the way, we commune with a host of pioneers--Mike Nichols and Harold Ramis, Dustin Hoffman, Chevy Chase, Steve Carell, Amy Poehler, Alan Arkin, Tina Fey, Judd Apatow, and many more. With signature verve and nuance, Wasson shows why improv deserves to be considered the great American art form of the last half-century--and the most influential one today.
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
"A book of essays as raw and honest as anyone has ever produced." -- Lena Dunham, Lenny Letter
In the spirit of Amy Poehler's Yes Please, Lena Dunham's Not That Kind of Girl, and Roxane Gay's Bad Feminist, a powerful collection of essays about gender, sexuality, race, beauty, Hollywood, and what it means to be a modern woman.
One month before the release of the highly anticipated film The Birth of a Nation, actress Gabrielle Union shook the world with a vulnerable and impassioned editorial in which she urged our society to have compassion for victims of sexual violence. In the wake of rape allegations made against director and actor Nate Parker, Union--a forty-four-year-old actress who launched her career with roles in iconic '90s movies--instantly became the insightful, outspoken actress that Hollywood has been desperately awaiting. With honesty and heartbreaking wisdom, she revealed her own trauma as a victim of sexual assault: "It is for you that I am speaking. This is real. We are real."
In this moving collection of thought provoking essays infused with her unique wisdom and deep humor, Union uses that same fearlessness to tell astonishingly personal and true stories about power, color, gender, feminism, and fame. Union tackles a range of experiences, including bullying, beauty standards, and competition between women in Hollywood, growing up in white California suburbia and then spending summers with her black relatives in Nebraska, coping with crushes, puberty, and the divorce of her parents. Genuine and perceptive, Union bravely lays herself bare, uncovering a complex and courageous life of self-doubt and self-discovery with incredible poise and brutal honesty. Throughout, she compels us to be ethical and empathetic, and reminds us of the importance of confidence, self-awareness, and the power of sharing truth, laughter, and support.
A New York Times bestseller
Jonathan and Drew Scott, known for their wildly popular HGTV shows including Property Brothers and Brother vs Brother, follow up their New York Times bestseller, Dream Home, with a highly anticipated memoir. It Takes Two: Our Story shares never-before-revealed tales of the brothers' childhood and rise to fame--from starting their first business at 7 years old, their years modeling and acting, to their first house purchase at the impressive young age of eighteen. They soon found their true passion in life, combining their natural gifts for entertaining with the skills they learned from buying, renovating, and selling homes.
Complete with hilarious behind-the-scenes stories from set, Jonathan and Drew discuss how their family and upbringing have led to their success in life. Throughout, the brothers keep fans laughing with the clever--and sometimes zany--sibling banter for which they're known best.
From the New York Times bestselling author of Crazy Rich comes a blockbuster unauthorized biography of one of the most famous and ubiquitous family dynasties in contemporary culture: The Kardashians.
Secrets and scandals of the Kardashians, so closely held that not even hard core fans have heard about them, are finally exposed in New York Times bestselling author Jerry Oppenheimer's forensic dissection of the infamous reality TV clan. From the curious life of patriarch Robert Kardashian, whose family meatpacking business was tainted by scandal, to "momager" Kris Jenner's top-secret plan for the future, The Kardashians reveals the untold, definitive story based on two years of investigative reporting and scores of candid, on-the-record interviews, ranging from childhood friends to powerful business associates, who break their silence for the first time.
In the decade since the Kardashians first appeared on the scene, millions of speculative words have been written about their drama-filled lives. But most has been tabloid hype and gossip column fantasy. Until now.
Oppenheimer has written revelatory books on such international icons as the Clintons, the Kennedys, the Hiltons and more, and now comes The Kardashians, the true story that will make headlines and shock even the most loyal fans.
"Paula Poundstone is the funniest human being I have ever known." --Peter Sagal, host of Wait Wait . . . Don't Tell Me and author of The Book of Vice
"Is there a secret to happiness?" asks comedian Paula Poundstone. "I don't know how or why anyone would keep it a secret. It seems rather cruel, really . . . Where could it be? Is it deceptively simple? Does it melt at a certain temperature? Can you buy it? Must you suffer for it before or after?" In her wildly and wisely observed book, the comedy legend takes on that most inalienable of rights--the pursuit of happiness.
Offering herself up as a human guinea pig in a series of thoroughly unscientific experiments, Poundstone tries out a different get-happy hypothesis in each chapter of her data-driven search. She gets in shape with taekwondo. She drives fast behind the wheel of a Lamborghini. She communes with nature while camping with her daughter, and commits to getting her house organized (twice ). Swing dancing? Meditation? Volunteering? Does any of it bring her happiness? You may be laughing too hard to care.
The Totally Unscientific Study of the Search for Human Happiness is both a story of jumping into new experiences with both feet and a surprisingly poignant tale of a single working mother of three children (not to mention dozens of cats, a dog, a bearded dragon lizard, a lop-eared bunny, and one ant left from her ant farm) who is just trying to keep smiling while living a busy life.
The queen of the skepticism-fueled rant, Paula Poundstone stands alone in her talent for bursting bubbles and slaying sacred cows.
Like George Carlin, Steve Martin, and David Sedaris, she is a master of her craft, and her comedic brilliance is served up in abundance in this book. As author and humorist Roy Blount Jr. notes, "Paula Poundstone deserves to be happy. Nobody deserves to be this funny."
INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
"Thank you to Sheila Nevins for putting all this down for posterity. Women need this kind of honest excavation of the process of living." --Meryl Streep
An astonishingly frank, funny, poignant book for any woman who wishes they had someone who would say to them, "This happened to me, learn from my mistakes and my successes. Because you don't get smarter as you get older, you get braver."
Sheila Nevins is the best friend you never knew you had. She is your discreet confidante you can tell any secret to, your sage mentor at work who helps you navigate the often uneven playing field, your wise sister who has "been there, done that," your hysterical girlfriend whose stories about men will make laugh until you cry. Sheila Nevins is the one person who always tells it like it is.
In You Don't Look Your Age, the famed documentary producer (as President of HBO Documentary Films for over 30 years, Nevins has rightfully been credited with creating the documentary rebirth) finally steps out from behind the camera and takes her place front and center.
In these pages you will read about the real life challenges of being a woman in a man's world, what it means to be a working mother, what it's like to be an older woman in a youth-obsessed culture, the sometimes changing, often sweet truth about marriages, what being a feminist really means, and that you are in good company if your adult children don't return your phone calls.
So come, sit down, make yourself comfortable, (and for some of you, don't forget the damn reading glasses). You're in for a treat.
Charlamagne Tha God--the self-proclaimed "Prince of Pissing People Off," co-host of Power 105.1's The Breakfast Club, and "hip-hop's Howard Stern"--shares his unlikely success story as well as how embracing one's truths is a fundamental key to success and happiness. In his new book, Charlamagne Tha God presents his comic, often controversial, and always brutally honest insights on how living an authentic life is the quickest path to success. Beginning with his journey from the small town of Moncks Corner, South Carolina to his headline grabbing interviews with celebrities like Justin Bieber, Jay-Z, Nicki Minaj, Kanye West, and Hillary Clinton, he shares how he turned his troubled early life around by owning his (many) mistakes and refusing to give up on his dreams, even after his controversial opinions got him fired from several on-air jobs. Combining his own story with bold advice and his signature commitment to honesty at all costs, Charlamagne hopes this book will give others the confidence to live their own truths.
New York Times Bestseller
New York Times comedy critic Jason Zinoman delivers the definitive story of the life and artistic legacy of David Letterman, the greatest television talk show host of all time and the signature comedic voice of a generation.
In a career spanning more than thirty years, David Letterman redefined the modern talk show with an ironic comic style that transcended traditional television. While he remains one of the most famous stars in America, he is a remote, even reclusive, figure whose career is widely misunderstood. In Letterman, Jason Zinoman, the first comedy critic in the history of the New York Times, mixes groundbreaking reporting with unprecedented access and probing critical analysis to explain the unique entertainer's titanic legacy. Moving from his early days in Indiana to his retirement, Zinoman goes behind the scenes of Letterman's television career to illuminate the origins of his revolutionary comedy, its overlooked influences, and how his work intersects with and reveals his famously eccentric personality.
Zinoman argues that Letterman had three great artistic periods, each distinct and part of his evolution. As he examines key broadcasting moments--"Stupid Pet Tricks" and other captivating segments that defined Late Night with David Letterman--he illuminates Letterman's relationship to his writers, and in particular, the show's co-creator, Merrill Markoe, with whom Letterman shared a long professional and personal connection.
To understand popular culture today, it's necessary to understand David Letterman. With this revealing biography, Zinoman offers a perceptive analysis of the man and the artist whose ironic voice and caustic meta-humor was critical to an entire generation of comedians and viewers--and whose singular style ushered in new tropes that have become cliches in comedy today.
Cheech Marin came of age at an interesting time in America and became a self-made counterculture legend with his other half, Tommy Chong. This insightful memoir delves into how Cheech dodged the draft, formed one of the most successful comedy duos of all time, became the face of the recreational drug movement with the film Up in Smoke, forged a successful solo career with roles in The Lion King and, more recently, Jane the Virgin, and became the owner of the most renowned collection of Chicano art in the world.
Written in Cheech's uniquely hilarious voice, this memoir will take you to new highs.
"Hilarious and Heartbreaking. Comedy shouldn't take courage, but it made an exception for Bassem." --Jon Stewart
"The Jon Stewart of the Arabic World"--the creator of The Program, the most popular television show in Egypt's history--chronicles his transformation from heart surgeon to political satirist, and offers crucial insight into the Arab Spring, the Egyptian Revolution, and the turmoil roiling the modern Middle East, all of which inspired the documentary about his life, Tickling Giants.
Bassem Youssef's incendiary satirical news program, Al-Bernameg (The Program), chronicled the events of the 2011 Egyptian Revolution, the fall of President Hosni Mubarak, and the rise of Mubarak's successor, Mohamed Morsi. Youssef not only captured his nation's dissent but stamped it with his own brand of humorous political criticism, in which the Egyptian government became the prime laughing stock.
So potent were Youssef's skits, jokes, and commentary, the authoritarian government accused him of insulting the Egyptian presidency and Islam. After a six-hour long police interrogation, Youssef was released. While his case was eventually dismissed, his television show was terminated, and Youssef, fearful for his safety, fled his homeland.
In Revolution for Dummies, Youssef recounts his life and offers hysterical riffs on the hypocrisy, instability, and corruption that has long animated Egyptian politics. From the attempted cover-up of the violent clashes in Tahrir Square to the government's announcement that it had created the world's first "AIDS cure" machine, to the conviction of officials that Youssef was a CIA operative--recruited by Jon Stewart--to bring down the country through sarcasm. There's much more--and it's all insanely true.
Interweaving the dramatic and inspiring stories of the development of his popular television show and his rise as the most contentious funny-man in Egypt, Youssef's humorous, fast-paced takes on dictatorship, revolution, and the unforeseeable destiny of democracy in the Modern Middle East offers much needed hope and more than a few healing laughs. A documentary about his life, Tickling Giants, debuted at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2016, and is now scheduled for major release.
From the New York Times-bestselling author of The Searchers, the revelatory story behind the classic movie High Noon and the toxic political climate in which it was created.
It's one of the most revered movies of Hollywood's golden era. Starring screen legend Gary Cooper and Grace Kelly in her first significant film role, High Noon was shot on a lean budget over just thirty-two days but achieved instant box-office and critical success. It won four Academy Awards in 1953, including a best actor win for Cooper. And it became a cultural touchstone, often cited by politicians as a favorite film, celebrating moral fortitude.
Yet what has been often overlooked is that High Noon was made during the height of the Hollywood blacklist, a time of political inquisition and personal betrayal. In the middle of the film shoot, screenwriter Carl Foreman was forced to testify before the House Committee on Un-American Activities about his former membership in the Communist Party. Refusing to name names, he was eventually blacklisted and fled the United States. (His co-authored screenplay for another classic, The Bridge on the River Kwai, went uncredited in 1957.) Examined in light of Foreman's testimony, High Noon's emphasis on courage and loyalty takes on deeper meaning and importance.
In this book, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Glenn Frankel tells the story of the making of a great American Western, exploring how Carl Foreman's concept of High Noon evolved from idea to first draft to final script, taking on allegorical weight. Both the classic film and its turbulent political times emerge newly illuminated.
For the 75th anniversary of its premiere--the incredible story of how Casablanca was made and why it remains the most beloved of Hollywood films.
Casablanca was first released in 1942, just two weeks after the city of Casablanca itself surrendered to American troops led by General Patton. Featuring a pitch-perfect screenplay, a classic soundtrack, and unforgettable performances by Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, and a deep supporting cast, Casablanca was hailed in the New York Times as "a picture that makes the spine tingle and the heart take a leap." The film won Oscars for best picture, best director, and best screenplay, and would go on to enjoy more revival screenings than any other movie in history. It became so firmly ensconced in the cultural imagination that, as Umberto Eco once said, Casablanca is "not one movie; it is 'movies.' "
We'll Always Have Casablanca is celebrated film historian Noah Isenberg's rich account of this most beloved movie's origins. Through extensive research and interviews with filmmakers, film critics, family members of the cast and crew, and diehard fans, Isenberg reveals the myths and realities behind Casablanca's production, exploring the transformation of the unproduced stage play into the classic screenplay, the controversial casting decisions, the battles with Production Code censors, and the effect of the war's progress on the movie's reception. Isenberg particularly focuses on the central role refugees from Hitler's Europe played in the production (nearly all of the actors and actresses cast in Casablanca were immigrants).
Finally, Isenberg turns to Casablanca's long afterlife and the reasons it remains so revered. From the Marx Brothers' 1946 spoof hit, A Night in Casablanca, to loving parodies in New Yorker cartoons, Saturday Night Live skits, and Simpsons episodes, Isenberg delves into the ways the movie has lodged itself in the American psyche.
Filled with fresh insights into Casablanca's creation, production, and legacy, We'll Always Have Casablanca is a magnificent account of what made the movie so popular and why it continues to dazzle audiences seventy-five years after its release.
Darwin had his theory of evolution, and David Bianculli has his. Bianculli's theory has to do with the concept of quality television: what it is and, crucially, how it got that way. In tracing the evolutionary history of our progress toward a Platinum Age of Television our age, the era of The Sopranos and Breaking Bad and Mad Men and The Wire and Homeland and Girls he focuses on the development of the classic TV genres, among them the sitcom, the crime show, the miniseries, the soap opera, the western, the animated series and the late night talk show. In each genre, he selects five key examples of the form, tracing its continuities and its dramatic departures and drawing on exclusive and in-depth interviews with many of the most famed auteurs in television history.
Television has triumphantly come of age artistically; David Bianculli's book is the first to date to examine, in depth and in detail and with a keen critical and historical sense, how this inspiring development came about."
Michiko Kakutani, New York Times - Newsday - Esquire - NPR - Booklist Trevor Noah's unlikely path from apartheid South Africa to the desk of The Daily Show began with a criminal act: his birth. Trevor was born to a white Swiss father and a black Xhosa mother at a time when such a union was punishable by five years in prison. Living proof of his parents' indiscretion, Trevor was kept mostly indoors for the earliest years of his life, bound by the extreme and often absurd measures his mother took to hide him from a government that could, at any moment, steal him away. Finally liberated by the end of South Africa's tyrannical white rule, Trevor and his mother set forth on a grand adventure, living openly and freely and embracing the opportunities won by a centuries-long struggle. Born a Crime is the story of a mischievous young boy who grows into a restless young man as he struggles to find himself in a world where he was never supposed to exist. It is also the story of that young man's relationship with his fearless, rebellious, and fervently religious mother--his teammate, a woman determined to save her son from the cycle of poverty, violence, and abuse that would ultimately threaten her own life. The stories collected here are by turns hilarious, dramatic, and deeply affecting. Whether subsisting on caterpillars for dinner during hard times, being thrown from a moving car during an attempted kidnapping, or just trying to survive the life-and-death pitfalls of dating in high school, Trevor illuminates his curious world with an incisive wit and unflinching honesty. His stories weave together to form a moving and searingly funny portrait of a boy making his way through a damaged world in a dangerous time, armed only with a keen sense of humor and a mother's unconventional, unconditional love. Praise for Born a Crime " A] compelling new memoir . . . By turns alarming, sad and funny, Trevor Noah's] book provides a harrowing look, through the prism of Mr. Noah's family, at life in South Africa under apartheid. . . . Born a Crime is not just an unnerving account of growing up in South Africa under apartheid, but a love letter to the author's remarkable mother."--Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times " An] unforgettable memoir."--Parade
"What makes Born a Crime such a soul-nourishing pleasure, even with all its darker edges and perilous turns, is reading Noah recount in brisk, warmly conversational prose how he learned to negotiate his way through the bullying and ostracism. . . . What also helped was having a mother like Patricia Nombuyiselo Noah. . . . Consider Born a Crime another such gift to her--and an enormous gift to the rest of us."--USA Today " Noah] thrives with the help of his astonishingly fearless mother. . . . Their fierce bond makes this story soar."--People " Noah's] electrifying memoir sparkles with funny stories . . . and his candid and compassionate essays deepen our perception of the complexities of race, gender, and class."--Booklist (starred review) "A gritty memoir . . . studded with insight and provocative social criticism . . . with flashes of brilliant storytelling and acute observations."--Kirkus Reviews
The star-studded and sidesplitting follow up to The Andy Cohen Diaries
The megapopular host of Watch What Happens: Live and executive producer of The Real Housewives franchise is back, better than ever, and telling stories that will keep his publicist up at night.
Since the publication of his last book, Andy has toured the country with his sidekick Anderson Cooper, hit the radio waves with his own Sirius station, Radio Andy, appeared on Real Time with Bill Maher despite his mother's conviction he was not intellectually prepared, hosted NBC's Primetime New Year's Eve special, guest edited Entertainment Weekly, starred in Bravo's Then & Now with Andy Cohen, offended celebrities with his ongoing case of foot-in-mouth disease, and welcomed home Teresa "Namaste" Giudice, from a brief stint in jail. Hopping from the Hamptons to the Manhattan dating world, the dog park to the red carpet, Cardinals superfan and mama's boy Andy Cohen, with Wacha in tow, is the kind of star that fans are dying to be friends with. This book gives them that chance.
If The Andy Cohen Diaries was deemed "the literary equivalent of a Fresca and tequila" by Jimmy Fallon, Superficial is a double: dishier, juicier, and friskier. In this account of his escapades--personal, professional, and behind-the-scenes--Andy tells us not only what goes down, but exactly what he thinks of it.
The definitive book about Joan Rivers' tumultuous, victorious, tragic, hilarious, and fascinating life. Joan Rivers was more than a legendary comedian; she was an icon and a role model to millions, a fearless pioneer who left a legacy of expanded opportunity when she died in 2014. Her life was a dramatic roller-coaster of triumphant highs and devastating lows: the suicide of her husband, her feud with Johnny Carson, her estrangement from her daughter, her many plastic surgeries, her ferocious ambition and her massive insecurities. But Rivers' career was also hugely significant in American cultural history, breaking down barriers for her gender and pushing the boundaries of truth-telling for women in public life. A juicy, intimate biography of one of the greatest comedians ever-a performer whose sixty year career was borne, simply, out of a desire to make people laugh so she could feel loved-LAST GIRL BEFORE FREEWAY delves into the inner workings of a woman who both reflected and redefined the world around her.
For the first time, Nicole Curtis, the star of the megahit HGTV and DIY Network show Rehab Addict, reveals her private struggles, her personal victories, and the inspiring lessons we can all learn from them.
Nicole Curtis is the tough, soulful, charismatic dynamo who for the past twenty years has worked tirelessly to restore historical houses, often revitalizing neighborhoods in the process. And also, in the process, drawing millions of fans to her television show, Rehab Addict, where they follow each step of the hard work and singular vision that transform the seemingly lost cause of a run-down building into a beautifully restored home. But there is so much more to this self-taught expert and working mom. With hersignature irresistible honesty and energy, Curtis writes about a project that every reader will find compelling: how she rehabbed herself. Better Than New reveals what's not seen on TV--Curtis's personal battles and her personal triumphs, her complicated relationships, her life as a single mother, the story of how she got started remodeling houses, and the consuming ins and outs of producing a megahit television show while keeping up with two kids, two rescue dogs, and countless tasks on her home renovation punch lists. Followers of the show will get an inside look at some of her most famous restorations, including the Dollar house, the Minnehaha house, the Campbell Street project, and the Ransom Gillis mansion.
Part inspirational memoir and part self-help guide, Better Than New is a journey ineight chapters--each pinned to the story of a house that Curtis has remodeled, each delivering a hard-fought lesson about life--that takes readers to the place we all want to be: home.
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
"By turns hilarious and heartbreaking, Hannah Hart's new book is a roaring, beautiful, and profoundly human account of an extraordinary life."--John Green
"Hannah shares her truth with an honesty that is inspiring--one that makes me believe her when she says that it's going to get better or that laughter is just around the corner or that you aren't alone."--Jenny Lawson, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Let's Pretend This Never Happened and Furiously Happy
Hannah Hart, wildly popular YouTube personality and author of the New York Times bestseller My Drunk Kitchen, is stirring up tales from her past with a collection of narrative essays about family, faith, love, sexuality, self-worth, friendship and fame.
Hello, my darlings I am incredibly pleased to present Buffering: Unshared Tales of a Life Fully Loaded
As a big fan of memoirs, I wanted to try my hand at writing about the events of my life that deserve a little more consideration than can be accomplished in 140-characters or a 6-minute vlog. Now on the cusp of turning 30, I'm ready to expose some parts of my life that I haven't shared before. Before, it was all about privacy, process and time. And now the time has come I'm ready to put myself out there, for you.
I'm a little nervous about all these vulnerable words going into the world, these tales about my love life, the wrestling I've done with faith, how I feel about sex and my family and myself. I've had a lot of trials, a lot of errors, but also a lot of passion. Here's the thing--I've always found comfort in the stories shared by others, so I hope my stories, now that I feel ready to tell them, will bring you some comfort too.
And when you read this book please remember: Buffering is just the time it takes to process.
As an adult, Hitch rigorously controlled the press's portrait of him, drawing certain carefully selected childhood anecdotes into full focus and blurring all others out. In this quick-witted portrait, Ackroyd reveals something more: a lugubriously jolly man fond of practical jokes, who smashes a once-used tea cup every morning to remind himself of the frailty of life. Iconic film stars make cameo appearances, just as Hitch did in his own films: Grace Kelly, Cary Grant, and James Stewart despair of his detached directing style and, perhaps most famously of all, Tippi Hedren endures cuts and bruises from a real-life fearsome flock of birds.
Alfred Hitchcock wrests the director's chair back from the master of control and discovers what lurks just out of sight, in the corner of the shot.