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Not Funny

Essays on Life, Comedy, Culture, Et Cetera

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About The Book

For fans of the perceptive comedy of Hannah Gadsby, Lindy West, and Sarah Silverman, Academy Awardnominated and acclaimed stand-up comedian Jena Friedman presents a witty and insightful collection of essays on the cultural flashpoints of today.

Growing up, Jena Friedman didn’t care about being likable. And she never wanted to be a comedian, either. A child of the 90s, she wouldn’t discover her knack for the funny business until research for her college thesis led her to take an improv class in Chicago.

That anthropology paper, written on race, class, and gender in the city’s comedy scene, was, in Jena’s own words, “just as funny as it sounds.” But it did lay the groundwork for a career that has seen her write and produce for The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, the Late Show with David Letterman, and the Oscar nominated Borat Subsequent Moviefilm.

Friedman’s debut collection, Not Funny, takes on the third rails of modern life in Jena’s bold and subversive style, with essays that explore cancel culture, sexism, work, celebrity worship, and…dead baby jokes.

In a moment where women’s rights are being rolled back, fascism is on the rise, and so many of us could use a breather as we struggle to get by, Jena applies her unique gifts to pull a laugh from things deemed too raw, too precious, and too scary to joke about. She shares her stories of taking on those who told her she was too brash, too edgy, and too “unlikable” to make it. She deftly dissects how we get coerced into silence on the issues that matter most, until they’ve gone too far afield to be turned back around again. And she shares her struggles to make it (-ish) in a world that, more often than not, would rather tune out than listen to a woman confronting the indignities we’ve been told to bear.

About The Author

Photograph by Austin Nelson

Jena Friedman is a comedian, filmmaker, and creator of AMC’s Indefensible and Soft Focus with Jena Friedman on Adult Swim. She has worked on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, Late Show with David Letterman, and her writing has appeared in The New Yorker, ARTNET, and The Guardian. She was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay, and won a Writer’s Guild of America award for her work on Borat Subsequent Moviefilm. She splits her time between Los Angeles and New York. Find out more at JenaFriedman.com and follow her on Twitter @JenaFriedman.  

Why We Love It

“Jena Friedman is a pull-no-punches woman in comedy whose point of view and approach are simply made for our tumultuous times. Her essays on likability, reproductive rights, reckoning with a predatory English teacher from her past, and her struggle to understand when a trusted friend in comedy faces accusations of abuse are bullseyes on the crucial issues of today.”

—Nick C., Senior Editor, on Never Far from Home

Product Details

  • Publisher: Atria/One Signal Publishers (April 18, 2023)
  • Length: 256 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781982178307

Raves and Reviews

"Entertaining and soulful... this is a blast."
Publishers Weekly

“I feel misled. Not Funny is in fact extremely funny! And smart and thoughtful and even a little offensive, just like Jena” —Sacha Baron Cohen, actor, writer, producer, and creator and star of Borat 

Not Funny feels as if you're having a direct conversation with Jena. A mix of lethal deadpan delivery and biting sarcasm with impressive intelligence not only makes this book phenomenal, but announces the arrival of a singular voice." —Phoebe Robinson, New York TImes bestselling author of You Can't Touch My Hair

“From her sharp and fearless comedy specials, to the deadpan interviews in which she expertly skewers a fine array of sexist miscreants, Jena Friedman is actually not funny--she is hilarious and brilliant.” —Merrill Markoe, New York Times bestselling author of Walking in Circles Before Lying Down

“A funny but critical look at the depradations of life as a woman comic [...] A serious memoir with jokes, self-deprecating yet rarely self-diminishing.”
—Kirkus
 

“Jena dares you to laugh at things we're told not to laugh at, perhaps because that's how they keep us from seeing the truth. A page-turner through and through: Just when I'm thinking 'it can't be!' Jena tells you it is. And I'm laughing through it. Jena proves with her writing that not only is laughing at dark truths important, it's revolutionary.”
—Atsuko Okatsuka, comedian, actress, and writer

“I’ve skimmed this book and it seems pretty funny. I have every intention of reading it as soon as I finish The History of The Decline and Fall of The Roman Empire.” — Larry David, writer, actor, and co-creator of Seinfeld and Curb Your Enthusiasm

"Jena's always been fiercely honest both onstage and off, and this book is no exception. If you want to laugh and scream, give NOT FUNNY a read."
—Naomi Ekperigin, comedian, actress, and writer

“Jena Friedman is brilliant at mining the darkness for a joke you'd never dare say, that makes you jealous you didn't think of it yourself. I am here for every word of this hilarious and much needed book.” — Samantha Bee, comedian, actor, commentator and author of I Know I Am, But What Are You?

“Jena’s comedy is and has always been radical. She’s dark, unapologetic, and biting. It’s really funny and a little frightening.” —Ilana Glazer, actor, writer, and co-creator of Broad City

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