Apparently memoirs of successful female comedians is a new favorite genre of mine. Good comedians are, by necessity, smart, funny, and insightful, so I tend to find their books worth reading. And even though I think getting up on a stage and telling jokes to a crowd of strangers would be the ninth circle of hell, I usually find something relatable in their stories. Besides Sarah Silverman’s video, “I’m fucking Matt Damon” and seeing her on late night once in awhile, I didn’t know too much about her or her work coming into The Bedwetter: Stories of Courage, Redemption, and Pee (2010).
Silverman’s book is quick and entertaining. Every story and anecdote about her life is short and she jumps quickly from topic to topic before any boredom can set in. Silverman starts with her family and some unique childhood traumas growing up, she goes on to discuss starting stand-up, losing her virginity, her job at SNL, her work at The Sarah Silverman Program, and being Jewish. Although Silverman discusses some very personal details of her life, she avoids discussing her relationships in any detail–only mentioning some ex-boyfriends in passing. But Silverman is trying to entertain, not bare her soul to the world, and in this she succeeds.
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This is the second audiobook I’ve ‘read’ for the Cannonball Read. Sticking with my idea of listening to female comic memoirs read by the authors, I picked The Bedwetter. I chose it with a bit of trepidation, as while I’ve found myself laughing at some of Sarah Silverman’s work, I recalled that she’s said some things that left a bad taste in my mouth. In general I think people are pretty torn on Sarah Silverman. They either find her funny or find her annoying / inappropriate. After listening to this memoir I’m definitely more of a fan of her work.
The book has a very sincere tone to it without being annoying. She sounds like herself, but not like a character version of herself, if that makes sense. Whether it was an act or not, I imagined that this is what she’d sound like talking to her friends. She shares some stories that would clearly be mortifying for a child or teenager, making her quite relatable, and sheds some light onto both the world of making a sitcom-style show and working at Saturday Night Live as a writer.
I think my favorite parts were where she discussed jokes she’s told that were not well received. Probably the best-known instance of this was when she was on Conan O’Brien and made a joke that used a racial slur for Asian people. Many people I know would probably stop listening there, but I was in the middle of a run and so didn’t really have a choice. And by that point I’d also felt like I’d invested enough in the book to want to hear her discussion of it. You know what? It was a very interesting, well-thought out discussion. Yes, she is a comic who make jokes about poo, but she’s also a thoughtful person interested in social commentary.
The audio book is about six hours in length, so just long enough for me to listen to it over about a week’s worth of runs. I’m glad I purchased it instead of borrowing it from the library because it’s the kind of book I could see myself listening to again in the future.