Submitted by countylibrary on

The art of comedy wears many hats. You can roar with laughter over television shows like Saturday Night Live or Late Night with Seth Meyers. You can giggle to yourself as you read satirical novels or joke books. Or you can watch comedy play out live when you see a stand-up comedian. In fact, humor is everywhere and it’s an essential component of American culture. Often, the things people find the funniest are the moments they can relate to. What makes comedy so awesome is its ability to offer real life lessons; through the laughter comes wisdom.

In honor of National Tell a Joke Day, here are three life lessons you can learn from famous comedians:

Be Unique.

In his autobiography Born Standing Up, Steve Martin gives readers unparalleled insight into his life as a comedian and movie star- and what it took to get there. Martin didn’t achieve fame by sticking to the status quo. In everything he did, whether it be writing for The Smothers Brothers or performing stand-up routines, he proved to the audience- and to himself- that it’s necessary to stand out. Martin took the concept of “funny” and redefined it, incorporating unprecedented silliness into his routines that both shocked and humored his audiences; they were cracking up, but they didn’t always know why.

Although his book recounts his rise to fame in the entertainment industry, the lessons he discusses are applicable to the everyday. Martin achieved success by working vigorously until he perfected his material, becoming “so good, no one could ignore him.”

Speak Your Mind.

According to American icon and comedy star Tina Fey, “You’re no one until someone calls you bossy.” In her uncensored tell-all Bossypants, Fey gives readers a glimpse into her life as a leading lady of the comedy world and the many stepping stones that led to her fame. She takes readers through her childhood in Philadelphia, the process of trying to break into the Chicago comedy scene, all the way through to her reign on SNL. If you’re wondering how she managed to do it all, listen up.

Fey admits that breaking into the comedy scene is a tough feat. However, she didn’t get where she is by sitting back and waiting for opportunity to come knocking. Even after reaching the pinnacle of her career, she still faced challenges commanding the room as the executive producer of 30 Rock. Fey encourages readers to put on their “bossypants” and take initiative.

Your Parents Will Always Have Your Back.

In his autobiography Born a Crime, Daily Show host Trevor Noah recounts growing up under the controlling rule of South African Apartheid. His birth was a crime in itself, as it was highly illegal for the African natives to have children with those not of their race. Noah lived most of his early childhood in secret. If police spotted him, he would be taken from his mother’s custody and she would be jailed. It was up to Patricia Noah to ensure that her son was not only protected, but given a meaningful childhood.

This novel is not only a great coming-of-age story, but a wonderful tribute to the woman who raised Trevor to be the person he is today. His mother was relentless; she had great expectations for her son and loved him endlessly. He credits her as being not only his first fan, but his biggest supporter. She always had his back, no matter what. 

Explore a new perspective with these titles and many more, available to borrow from our collection of biographies.