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A Very Punchable Face
Cover of A Very Punchable Face
A Very Punchable Face
A Memoir
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NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • In these hilarious essays, the Saturday Night Live head writer and Weekend Update co-anchor learns how to take a beating.“I always wanted to punch his...
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • In these hilarious essays, the Saturday Night Live head writer and Weekend Update co-anchor learns how to take a beating.“I always wanted to punch his...
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  • NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • In these hilarious essays, the Saturday Night Live head writer and Weekend Update co-anchor learns how to take a beating.
    “I always wanted to punch his face before I read this book. Now I just want to kick him in the balls.”—Larry David

    NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY Cosmopolitan Vulture Parade

    If there’s one trait that makes someone well suited to comedy, it’s being able to take a punch—metaphorically and, occasionally, physically. 
    From growing up in a family of firefighters on Staten Island to commuting three hours a day to high school and “seeing the sights” (like watching a Russian woman throw a stroller off the back of a ferry), to attending Harvard while Facebook was created, Jost shares how he has navigated the world like a slightly smarter Forrest Gump.
    You’ll also discover things about Jost that will surprise and confuse you, like how Jimmy Buffett saved his life, how Czech teenagers attacked him with potato salad, how an insect laid eggs inside his legs, and how he competed in a twenty-five-man match at WrestleMania (and almost won). You'll go behind the scenes at SNL and Weekend Update (where he's written some of the most memorable sketches and jokes of the past fifteen years). And you’ll experience the life of a touring stand-up comedian—from performing in rural college cafeterias at noon to opening for Dave Chappelle at Radio City Music Hall.
    For every accomplishment (hosting the Emmys), there is a setback (hosting the Emmys). And for every absurd moment (watching paramedics give CPR to a raccoon), there is an honest, emotional one (recounting his mother’s experience on the scene of the Twin Towers’ collapse on 9/11). Told with a healthy dose of self-deprecation, A Very Punchable Face reveals the brilliant mind behind some of the dumbest sketches on television, and lays bare the heart and humor of a hardworking guy—with a face you can’t help but want to punch.
 

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Excerpts-

  • From the cover Chapter 1

    Finding My Voice


    “Let thy speech be better than silence. Or be silent.”—Dionysius of Halicarnassus

    “If you just don’t interfere with yourself, you’re quite interesting.”—Robin Williams


    I wasn’t able to speak until I was almost four years old. I didn’t know this at the time, but apparently that’s insane. Most kids start to speak by the age of one and a half or two. So speaking for the first time at the age of four is like having sex for the first time at the age of seventy-five: You can do it, but no doctor recommends it.

    My parents claim they weren’t too worried, but a four-year-old who doesn’t speak isn’t normal. It’s the opening of a horror movie. They said I could understand what people were telling me, but I couldn’t respond verbally. I would point or grunt but couldn’t form any actual words. I was a shorter, less charming Mr. Bean.

    My mom finally admitted, “We were a little worried, since every other child we knew was talking in full sentences. Whereas the only three sounds you ever made were ‘Ma,’ ‘Ba,’ and ‘Da.’ But you made good eye contact with people and you were exceptionally good at miming!”

    Okay, now that is a horror movie. A four-year-old staring you dead in the eyes and “miming” while repeating “Ma, Ba, Da” until blood pours out of his eyes.

    I have a vague memory from that age of feeling really frustrated. Like I was trying to will the words to come out but couldn’t do it. It felt like trying to talk underwater. Or rap in outer space. My mom said I would get angry a lot and lash out.

    “You very much identified with He-Man at the time,” she said. “So if other kids were communicating with words, you tended to respond with violence.”

    Not sure if that was the message behind He-Man . . . “Use the Power of Grayskull to defeat the power of words! Silence your friends with your fists! And punch your way to justice!”

    Other times I would get scared and not know how to express it. My mom said that when a fire alarm went off, I grabbed her hand and mimicked the sound of the alarm. Then I pointed to my heart, like, “It’s making my heart beat faster because I’m scared.” I might have been a chimpanzee?

    I’ve told friends that I couldn’t speak until I was four and their usual response is: “Oh yeah, that makes sense.” And I’m like, “What the hell does that mean?” And they say, “I don’t know, you just seem like someone who didn’t speak until they were four.” And I say, “Oh yeah? Well, you look like someone who has sex with their cousin.” And that ends the discussion pretty quick.

    But I kind of understand what they mean. To this day, I’m in my head a lot of the time. I create entire monologues and have full, detailed conversations with friends—entirely in my head. And then I get frustrated because that whole carefully constructed dialogue will never see the light of day. It just exists fully built in my brain like a ship in a bottle, and then it floats away before anyone can see it. It’s like rapping, but in outer space.

    I still have a deep fear about speaking. Not public speaking, but regular speaking. Once I get going I’m okay, but it’s starting to speak that’s the problem.

    I’ve noticed that I say “Uhhhh” a lot in conversation before I speak, and it’s because...

About the Author-

  • Colin Jost is a head writer at Saturday Night Live, a Weekend Update co-anchor, and a touring stand-up comedian. He has five Writers Guild Awards, two Peabody Awards, and a PETA Elly Award for the sketch “Diner Lobster.” He’s also been nominated for thirteen Emmy Awards and lost every time. He lives in New York and in the hearts of children everywhere.

Reviews-

  • AudioFile Magazine No one other than Colin Jost could have narrated his life story, which he does so perfectly in this audiobook memoir. His trademark self-effacing delivery, honed from 15 years on "Saturday Night Live," is flat-out wonderful. In this funny and revealing audiobook, Jost discusses growing up on Staten Island, where occupational choices were limited to firefighting or garbage collecting. He tells how his missteps and bad decisions somehow led him to the place he always wanted to be, a writer for SNL. His interview with Lorne Michaels ended with the SNL boss saying, "See you around," leaving Jost unsure if he was hired. Not knowing what to do, he sat around the writers' room the rest of the day until Michaels phoned in with an assignment that kicked off a fifteen-year career. M.S. 2021 Audies Finalist � AudioFile 2021, Portland, Maine

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