Funny Ladies

Canadian Jessica Holmes is the latest female comedian to trade stage for page

By Tim Leyes

In January 2009, exactly two years after Vanity Fair claimed women aren’t as funny as men, Tina Fey got revenge by appearing on the magazine’s cover. Not only are female comics as hilarious as their male counterparts, they are also now storming bestseller lists as well as sitcoms and stages. And their rising popularity means female funnybooks are now being taken very seriously (so to speak) by publishers and readers alike.

Royal Canadian Air Farce’s Jessica Holmes is the latest comedian to humorously over-share with her new memoir, I Love Your Laugh: Finding the Light in My Screwball Life. Her book combines family zaniness (her father’s predilection for buying crappy brown cars) with an emotionally revealing look at various professional and personal humiliations (such as going to a drugstore to return a box of condoms during the height of her Air Farce fame).
Holmes’ philosophy is that you cannot die from embarrassment?—?it will only make you stronger (and funnier): “Whatever you experience at the time, hopefully in the end it’s something you can laugh about.”

Today Holmes has plenty of company on bookstore shelves, including The Daily Show’s Samantha Bee (I Know I Am, But What Are You?) and Sarah Silverman (The Bedwetter). But this wasn’t the case when she began the book. “It was only after I started writing that Kathy Griffin’s book came out,” Holmes explains. “I thought about studying the technique for writing a book, but in the end I just decided to literally put what was in my brain down on paper.”

While Holmes jokes that “books don’t pay the mortgage” because most authors earn “six cents an hour,” the quip isn’t entirely accurate. In October 2008, Tina Fey signed a book contract worth an estimated $5 million?—?proving that female punch lines can be very good for a publisher’s bottom line?