Funny people are born, not made.
It don’t know what unique combination must percolate in one’s soul before one makes the egress out of the womb, but Jenny Lawson has it.
On the suggestion of a friend who suggested Lawson’s memoirs to help me understand mental illnesses like anxiety, OCD and depression, I picked them up and was both informed and delighted.
Let’s Pretend This Never Happened (A Mostly True Memoir) is Lawson’s first book, published in 2012. I believe it began as a series of blog posts, as she is known as the Bloggess and has legions of fans. Warning: If you’re not a fan of profanity, you might not be a fan of Lawson. I found it hilarious, but then I’m not known for my chaste language. Almost nothing is off limits from her irreverent humor. Anxiety, infertility, grief — she can put a funny spin on all kinds of horrible things. Which brings me to her second book.
Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things is the followup to Let’s Pretend. Here’s a sample:
… but when I asked [my surgeon] if I could keep my gallstones (so I could make a necklace out of them) he said that he couldn’t do that because the new regulations are assholes, and he said that he couldn’t even give people who’d been shot the bullets he dug out of them because they’re considered “medical waste” once they’ve been pulled out of your body. That seems a bit hypocritical because me daughter came out of my body and they totally let me take her home. And some people even bring home their placenta and make their family eat it (seriously … that’s a thing) and no one ever complains about that. (Except for the people who have to eat placenta, probably.)
See? Surgery. And afterbirths. Funny.
Here’s what I admire about Lawson. She’s not pressing. She finds humor in everyday situations, but it doesn’t feel like she’s concocting mayhem in order to write about it. Furiously Happy came out in 2015, so Lawson took her time to conjure up new humor. But Furiously Happy also reads as more authentic and real, as if she figured out from her first book that people like her, they really like her, even though she is flawed (and the daughter of an eccentric Texan taxidermist, which she mines for a lot of stories).
That’s what makes good memoir, funny or not, so interesting. We find out that maybe we’re not so weird and unlikable as we might have thought. And it feels good to find one’s tribe.