The Geeky Kings & Queens of Comedy Writing

David Sedaris' Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls

The kings and queen of the latest crop of comedy books are, by and large, loud and proud dorks. I scoured the internet looking for popular author-comedians who were not likely to have been shoved into lockers in high school, but only came up with a couple, including original King of Comedy and hip dude D.L. Hughley and dirty-mouthed writer Chelsea Handler, who you can easily imagine having made out with the homecoming king under the bleachers.

Exceptions aside, the geeks have risen. Long may they reign:

John Hodgman (That is All) Before he grew a mustache and became a deranged millionaire, John Hodgman so perfectly embodied the haplessly unhip that he was cast as the PC to Justin Long’s Mac in the now (in)famous Apple commercials. (Treat yourself to this Funny or Die vid, in which Mr. Hodgman reveals where he’s been keeping Justin Long since the Apple days, along with Brooke Shields, Dick Cavett, Paul Rudd, and others.) Hodgman is also: a certified judge, a Daily Show “Resident Expert,” and the author of a foreword to a book on artisanal pencil sharpening. Read his Trilogy of Complete World Knowledge to learn all the secrets of life and the apocalypse.

Michael Ian Black (You’re Not Doing It Right: Tales of Marriage, Sex, Death, and Other Humiliations). Michael Ian Black’s nerdy, comedic, and literary credits are as bizarre and impressive as Hodgman’s. Although Black is widely known for his I Love the 80s commentary, I’ll always think of him as part of the David Wain circus that began with sketch comedy TV show The State, and includes such talents as Black’s frequent costar/collaborator Michael Showalter, Joe Lo Truglio, Kerri Kenney, and Ken Marino. More points toward Black’s perfect dorkiness: he writes genuinely entertaining children’s books, and he married Bradley Cooper onscreen, in Wain’s Wet Hot American Summer.

Mindy Kaling (Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns)). If I wasn’t stricken with a deep insecurity that manifests in an irrepressible compulsion to over-explain myself, I’d simply post this, the best argument for granting Kaling unquestioned dork-writer queen of comedy status. But I think she would also want me to mention her very funny show, The Mindy Project.

Tina Fey (Bossypants). Tina Fey is totally boss—in pants, in full-tilt glam for an Annie Leibovitz Vanity Fair shoot, or when donning a metaphorical crown as one of the leaders of the geek/dork/nerd author comedian movement. Actually—since this is the blogosphere, and far from a democracy—I’m just going to go ahead and crown her Emperor of geek comedy. Parent, cupcake-lover, and creator of 30 Rock, Tina Fey will be a judicious and benevolent leader of the realm.

Jim Gaffigan (Dad is Fat). Dad is also funny (and pale, and probably never sat with the cool kids at lunch). “Dad is fat” is the first sentence that one of Gaffigan’s (five) kids ever wrote. The image of a tiny tot calling on his nascent language skills to write “dad is fat” instead of “my name is Billy” or “the sky is blue” is representative of the type of self-effacing, slice-of-life humor Gaffigan delivers. Also, for a comic best known for bits about food—notably Hot Pockets and McDonald’s, though I’m partial to his musings on cake—it’s pretty fantastic.

David Sedaris (Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls). Sedaris is less a dork and more a weirdo (even more so as a child with well-documented tics and anxieties), a distinction I doubt he’d argue with. It’s well known that he geeks out over things like obscure medical paraphernalia, but he’s also an uncannily talented storyteller, and an uncool king of comedy writing. These are my favorite David Sedaris books. His sister, Amy Sedaris, is equally (fabulously) strange, and a hilarious writer. She gets an honorable mention for ineffable cool-weirdness.

Who’s your favorite geeky comedy writer?

  • Ghina

    Not sure if she’s considered a comedian persay, but Let’s Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson was hysterical. I loved every minute of it.

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