Book Review: Self-Inflicted Wounds: Heartwarming Tales of Epic Humiliation by Aisha Tyler

Self Inflicted Wounds HeaderIf you read our looking ahead post, then you’ll know that Aisha Tyler’s new book is the only one that made my list for the next three months in that section.  I wouldn’t say that there are any diarrhea in a rental stories among Tyler’s self-inflicted wounds, but what she does have to share during story time doesn’t disappoint. 

Granted I have also been a listener of her podcast since the early stages, so I can’t really speak for those who aren’t used to her conversational skills, so I would suggest listening to a few episodes of Girl on Guy if you are debating whether to make the purchase of Self-Inflicted Wounds.  While listening you will eventually come to the part of the episode that has now become the moment I most look forward to each week, which is where this book gets its title.  Tyler does a better job of explaining the meaning of these words better than I can in the first handful of pages in her book, but long story short a self-inflicted wound is basically a moment in your life in which you embarrassed yourself to such a high degree with only yourself to blame.  And probably booze.  Now after over one hundred guests have shared their embarrassing moments, it’s time for the tables to turn and Tyler to add a few of her own to the conversation.

The main reason I recommend listening to her podcast, other than it being highly entertaining, is that she writes closely to how she speaks to her guests, so it won’t take long to figure out if you’ll enjoy spending hours reading her style of writing.  Personally I find her hilarious, which is expected seeing as she is a comedian, and I found myself laughing in what I imagine to be the same hysterical levels that I would have laughed had I been listening to her read the stories to me herself with the audiobook version.  I will say that some of the anecdotes in the middle of the book were not as easy to laugh at in terms of the actual content of the tale as I waited for the punch line moment while wondering if these were more of the “you had to be there” experiences, such as the story of her a cappella group membership or the ridiculous levels of importance felt by having tap duty, but the way she tells the stories make each one of them special regardless of the level of trauma.

Tyler starts each chapter with a heading that goes: “The time I…” simply connecting her book with those words to the idea she mentions that comedians love telling their own embarrassing stories, setting up the conversational, though more one-sided, nature of a comedian’s stage to audience set up.  Next, she includes a quote by intelligent members of society.  Tyler is incredibly intellectual in her own right as she adds her own quotes as a follow up to the previous words, but don’t worry, she isn’t being pompous by doing so, but rather going for the profound before reminding us why we love her.  Let me give you my favorite example from her first story:

“It is through being wounded that power grows and can, in the end, become tremendous.” – Friedrich Nietzsche

“Holy crap that fucking hurt.” – Aisha Tyler

Eh heh heh… Get’s me every time.  It’s obvious that she knows the meaning of that quote because she speaks to that in her previous pages as to explain the growth from self-inflicted wounds, but being who she is she does not ignore the opportunity to pretend to miss the point of it in the moment of being wounded.

I could go on and on by quoting some of my favorite lines from Self-Inflicted Wounds, which there are plenty of, as well as pointing out some of my favorite stories, but I think you should probably just go ahead and read it for yourself.  Even the “notes” in the back of the book are hilarious as she says “f you” to parentheses (though she would actually use the word like a grownup), which is just something you will have to experience on your own.  Long story short, I laughed.  I laughed a lot.  Along with the rest of the army, as we are legion.

Final Grade:  4 out of 5     

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