pyrajane’s review #35: Self-Inflicted Wounds: Heartwarming Tales of Epic Humiliation by Aisha Tyler

Let’s all join hands and frantically get these last reviews in before noon tomorrow, shall we?

WoundsI like Aisha Tyler.  I liked her onTalk Soup.  I liked when they brought her in to Friends so they could have a black friend.  I like her on Archer, which I don’t watch enough of.  I love love love her podcast, Girl on Guy.  I was super excited when she announced that she’d be hosing the return of Whose Line Is It Anyway?.  She’s super funny, and even better, she’s really smart and geeky.  She’d been talking about her book for a while on Girl on Guy and I was really looking forward to reading it.  I wish I had gotten the audio version though.

Tyler ends Girl on Guy by asking her guest to share a self-inflicted wound.  These are stories of things that are just bad and you have no one to blame but yourself.  Wrecked credit, getting an STD twice from the same girl when you know it’s going to happen the second time, punched in the face by a jealous boyfriend… usually these are super embarrassing stories and the most cringe inducing part is that you can’t blame it on anyone else but yourself.  These are the moments where you look back and wonder “What did I think was going to happen???”  But hopefully they’ve made you a better person.  Or not.  Who cares, as long as it’s a good story.

Tyler turns her question on to herself for this book and creates a memoir of sorts where she retells her own self-inflicted wounds.  Some are hysterical, some are learning experiences, some show her path to success.  It’s a good mix, like anyone’s life should be.  There are some that I sort of flipped through and others that I completely related to and took my time with.  I think most people will find at least one story that they will cringe along with and think “Oh god… me too.  I did this.”

Read more over on my blog, if you so wish.

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Lollygagger’s #CBR5 Review #36: Self-Inflicted Wounds: Heartwarming Tales of Epic Humiliation by Aisha Tyler

Another audio book read by the author, another worthwhile Audible purchase.

You know Aisha Tyler. She was host of Talk Soup, started out as a stand-up comic, and once penned an epic take-down of those questioning her gamer cred (go read it now. I’ll wait). She’s the voice of Lana on Archer, one of the best shows on television. (Fun fact, my husband and I plan to name our next two kittens Lana and Archer, just so we can comically shout at them around the house. LANAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA.)

I didn’t know that this is Ms. Tyler’s second book. I’ll have to check out the first one because this one?  Is funny. It’s not a traditional memoir, although it does appear to vaguely follow a steady chronology. The whole point of the book is for Ms. Tyler to point out some of the epic fails of her life, embracing the choices that other people would shake their heads at. Instead of shying away from the ill-advised mock-turtlenecks of her early acapella career, or ignoring the multiple times she’s had some challenges with fire, she tells the tales of her errors with colorful language, self-deprecation (where warranted) and a whole lot of self-awareness. The point of the book isn’t ‘learn from my mistakes’ so much as ‘I made mistakes and it was awesome, so go make some of your own to learn from.’

Because I listened to instead of read the book, I’m not easily able to quote specific lines that made me choke on my lunch or have to stifle a laugh so hard I couldn’t breathe (the danger of listening at work). But they are there, and they are many. The specifics of stories may not be relatable to you in some ways (perhaps you’ve never attended a kegger at a college, or flipped ass over teakettle on a rusty hobby horse), but the feelings, the decisions, the consequences – those are infinitely relatable.

The audio was a pure joy to listen to as well. Perhaps due in part to her experience as a voice-over actor, and part because these are her words, the stories jumped out of the headphones as vividly as if I’d been watching them as a flashback. I was close to tears during the thirty seconds where she imitates her dad telling the primary school-aged Aisha motivational phrases that the tiny she then repeated back. It’s good. So add it to your list for the next road trip / long flight / commute to work, as long as you’re okay with people staring at you when you occasionally laugh until you snort.

ElCicco #CBR5 Review #32: Self-Inflicted Wounds: Heartwarming Tales of Epic Humiliation by Aisha Tyler

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I’m familiar with Aisha Tyler through her work as Lana Kane on the excellent FX network adult cartoon Archer, which my husband and I have been watching since it first aired. But to many others, she is a nerd queen on a level with Mila Kunis and Felicia Day. Tyler is an actor, stand-up comedian, gamer, podcaster, and Ivy-League educated lover of all things geeky and nerdy. She is also a talented and funny writer, and her second book Self-Inflicted Wounds is not only laugh-out-loud funny, but also truly inspiring. It’s comedy but should be cross-referenced under self-help.

Tyler’s message is to “…embrace your fears, learn from your failures, celebrate your victories, and run headlong into (metaphorical) danger.” Yes, you will make mistakes and they might be pretty awful, but you can survive the failure and/or embarrassment. Each chapter of the book then details specific episodes from Tyler’s life in which she sustained “self-inflicted wounds.” These she describes as “… a demon entirely of one’s own making — a self-conjured gorgon pulled from the netherworld, if not voluntarily, then at the very least unbidden. Eventually one has to wake up and smell the metaphorical blood; you did this to yourself.” Rather than allow these self-inflicted wounds to beat her down, Tyler views them philosophically: “You screwed the pooch. All you can do now is try to turn it into a learning experience.”

Tyler has plenty of fodder to draw from for her book, such as: nearly burning down the apartment and ruining her mother’s chiffon blouse when she was a kid and had decided to make fries; revealing her “meditation name” to classmates in a school where she already stood out as the very tall sci-fi reading, boob-sprouting (in 3rd grade) poor vegetarian black girl; joining a renegade a capella singing group at Dartmouth whose signature look was the mock turtleneck; drunk tweeting; and, of course, trying to break into stand-up comedy. My favorite chapter deals with her childhood desire to get her period and purchasing a box of maxi-pads in preparation. She decides to wear one on a test walk around the neighborhood and her description of the event is hysterical.

As humiliating as some of these self-inflicted wounds are, for Tyler, they are worth it. She says, “…I never look back and wish I had gone after something that I didn’t.” She gives a lot of credit (and dedicates this book) to her parents for her adventurous and independent spirit and her resiliency. As funny and entertaining as this book is, at the end, it really is inspiring to consider the adversity and obstacles that might have deterred Tyler from following her dreams. Nothing came easy for her and she’s pretty honest in saying that, for comedy especially, there’s no easy way to succeed. It’s all about hard work and learning how to handle the setbacks.

And if you aren’t familiar with Archer, do yourself a favor and check it out on Netflix or Hulu. It’s one of the smartest and funniest shows on TV. Tyler described it in an NPR interview as being “thinky and stinky,” a potent mix of intellectual and potty humor. They had me from the first “Bartleby the Scrivener” joke.