Trump, poxes and Wikibeaks: the funniest books for Christmas
Tara Flynn shares her comedy book recommendations for the Christmas stocking
Alec Baldwin as President Trump. Photograph: Will Heath/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images
’Tis the season to be jolly, so let’s talk comedy books, either as gifts or a winter treat for yourself. The following are all funny in their own way – some gently observational, some spit-out-your-sugarplum hysterical – and all guaranteed to provide a festive lift.
Dustin’s Wikibeaks (Transworld Ireland, €10.99) is the first book from Dustin the Turkey and it’s packed full of LOLs with a sting in the tailfeathers. Irish celebrities, politicians, even towns get it in the neck in snappy sections like Gobblebox, KipAdvisor, Top Ten Spoofers and How to Hit a Hipster (Where it Hurts). Dustin’s surprise at how his #repealthe8th (of December, shopping for culchies) campaign has gained ground in the last couple of years really made me laugh. Out loud.
The insanely popular Ladybird Books for Grown-Ups return with titles including The Big Night Out, The Quiet Night in, The New You and The Ex (Michael Joseph, £7.99 each). Gorgeous original artwork is teamed with rib-tickling guidance from Jason Hazeley and Joel Morris. From Balls (on football): “Sometimes when we are angry, we want to shout terrible, spiteful things at people in the street, but there are laws … In a stadium, it is different. You can even set your terrible, spiteful things to music.” A no-brainer gift idea.
Maia Dunphy’s The M Word (For Women Who Want to Be Parents) (Gill Books, €14.99) was a very sweet read, even for this nonparent. There’s a taboo around admitting to moments of not being the perfect new mum, but in entertaining first-hand accounts, Dunphy talks us through pregnancy, sleep deprivation and maternity pads. Her honesty about loneliness and isolation in early motherhood will surely comfort those going through it. For those of us who haven’t, it reinforces what we already knew: mammies are amazing.
Alec Baldwin’s Saturday Night Live Donald Trump impression needs no introduction. Now he and Kurt Andersen have written a presidential parody, “the really tremendous inside story of my fantastic first year as president”, You Can’t Spell America Without Me (Bantam Press, £18.99). Punchy sections and glossy, staged photos depict imagined background to the year’s events in a style barely distinguishable from DT’s own Twitter feed. Some of it’s close to the bone: a tragic event is “Sad. But a total eagle or birdie travel-ban wise, right?” Personally, I’m a little Trumped-out right now, but if you still have room for tangerine, there’s no denying this is astutely observed.
One for comedy anoraks, Help (Random House, £12.99) is Simon Amstell’s authorial debut. Stand-up transcripts interspersed with touching personal confessions – love, sexuality, self-discovery – in his trademark sardonic style. Ideal for fans of Amstell or of stand-up itself.
For engaging storytelling, grab Aidan Comerford’s Cornflakes for Dinner (Gill Books, €14.99). “A heartbreaking comedy about family life”, the book deals with the Comerfords’ real-life evolution through tiny flats, fertility issues, conception attempts in full earshot of the in-laws, then living with autism, depression and surviving things that go wrong, just when they seemed to be going right. With the poignant moments and heartwarming humour, you end up plain loving the man and his girls. (Incidentally, Comerford acknowledges encouragement from the Oh My God, What a Complete Aisling forum, the book of which I adored.)
How to Deal with Poxes (On a Daily Basis) (Gill Books, €10.99) is by Aoife Dooley, the woman behind the Your One Nikita web series. Here we discover how to identify and repel poxes … and how to cope if you’re unlucky enough to be one. A talented illustrator, Dooley gives drawings-heavy support to real and important advice, such as what to do when faced with “Poxes who don’t change the toilet roll” and “How to get them back”. There’s a public transport survival guide and how to determine your Pox Name (mine is Dr Coddle Mickey, FYI). A visually ridey steer through an often poxy world.
Ciara’s Diary 1999-2002: Sense and Shiftability (Gill Books, €14.99) is Ciara King’s book of her teenage diary segment on the 2FM show Chris and Ciara. With a love life “ … as dry as a river bed in a Trócaire ad”, she practises kissing her own arm. Who hasn’t? Beautifully sent-up teen angst, liberally sprinkled with on-point 1990s/2000s cultural references – Dane Bowers, the Oscars, even September 11th – through a prism of Leaving Cert stress. Relatable nostalgia with a side order of craic.
Irishisms (Gill Books, €10.99) is Ronan Moore’s third book on Ireland and its ways, this one looking at how we say the things we say. A cute stocking filler for someone missing home who might benefit from a reminder that there’s more than one way to be told to “Quit messing”.
Rory O’Connor is the man behind The Rory’s Stories Guide to the GAA (Gill Books, €12.99) Facebook page so it’ll come as no surprise to fans that this is a guide to the GAA. Not a massive Gaelic head myself, I learned lots. Like “The lad who could have played county … waffle and waffle about how good a minor he was: if he wasn’t plagued with the bad ankles, he would have been an All-Star.” We meet The Characters on Every Club Team (The Dirty Corner-Back; The Big, Moany Full-Forward), and Every Match, and a month-by-month Year in the GAA, including dinner dance. A great present for GAA fans, or for dunces like me. (Up Cork!)
Building a wall around Cork is one of the political aims in Operation Trumpsformation (Penguin, £13.99) from our old friend Ross O’Carroll Kelly (aka Paul Howard). Ross may not always get it right, but Howard does. This satire on the Trump campaign, with Tinder, gender politics and murder accusations, will tickle anyone who needs non-stressful help to process an Ireland changing fast beneath Rosser’s feet. Plus, rugby. Roysh?
The Gospel According to Blindboy (Gill Books, €19.99) is the Rubberbandits frontman’s short story collection. Dark, twisted, and not for the faint-hearted. I loved this searing and surreal social commentary.
The QI research team behind the award-winning No Such Thing as a Fish podcast have produced The Book of the Year (Random House, £12.99): bitesize chunks of truth in a year of fake news. If you love fact-based trivia, you’ll get a kick out of this. Did you know that, in 2017, Canadian diplomats were told to stop using cardboard cut-outs of Justin Trudeau at parties? Well, now you do.
And last but most certainly not least, I’m sure you’ve already read Marian Keyes’s The Break (Penguin/ Michael Joseph, £20). If not, why not? Hurry up! It’s one of the most touching and hilarious accounts of heartbreak and navigating long relationships imaginable. A balm and an utter treat. One of her best.
So, don’t delay, get your orders in with Santa (or your local independent bookshop) now. Happy shopping. Happy reading. Happy Ho-ho-ho.