Self-Inflicted Wounds: Heartwarming Tales of Epic Humiliation

Self-Inflicted Wounds: Heartwarming Tales of Epic Humiliation

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by Aisha Tyler

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In her book Self-Inflicted Wounds, comedian, actress, and cohost of CBS’s daytime hit show The Talk, Aisha Tyler recounts a series of epic mistakes and hilarious stories of crushing personal humiliation, and the personal insights and authentic wisdom she gathered along the way.
The essays in Self-Inflicted Wounds are

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In her book Self-Inflicted Wounds, comedian, actress, and cohost of CBS’s daytime hit show The Talk, Aisha Tyler recounts a series of epic mistakes and hilarious stories of crushing personal humiliation, and the personal insights and authentic wisdom she gathered along the way.
The essays in Self-Inflicted Wounds are refreshingly and sometimes brutally honest, surprising, and laugh-out-loud funny, vividly translating the brand of humor Tyler has cultivated through her successful standup career, as well as the strong voice and unique point of view she expresses on her taste-making comedy podcast Girl on Guy.
Riotous, revealing, and wonderfully relatable, Aisha Tyler’s Self-Inflicted Wounds: Heartwarming Tales of Epic Humiliation is about the power of calamity to shape life, learning, and success.

Editorial Reviews

Entertainment Weekly
“In her new book, Aisha Tyler embarrasses and humiliates herself for 231 pages—to our extreme reading pleasure.”
Adam Carolla
“Aisha Tyler is one of the smartest, funniest women I’ve had the good fortune of meeting. She makes me laugh every time I see her—and this is coming from the guy who thinks women aren’t funny.”
Margaret Cho
“A beautifully tortured and sick-with-self-consciousness manifesto of regret. I’m equal parts proud and embarrassed for Aisha Tyler, which doesn’t get in the way of my loving her, as you will when you read Self-Inflicted Wounds.”
Anthony Bourdain
“Self-inflicted wounds are the nastiest, most painful, and most likely to fester. Also the funniest. Aisha brings back every awful, suicidally stupid, shameful, and all-too-familiar episode of a life well lived. Reading this book made me feel a lot better about myself. Prepare to be horrified—and entertained.”
Felicia Day
“One of the most kick-ass women I know, Aisha Tyler hilariously rips herself open and shows you her guts. On the schadenfreude scale, Self-Inflicted Wounds is a ten.”
Patton Oswalt
“Good God. The Amazon can write. And write well. We are doomed.”
Dave Eggers
“For once, Patton is correct. Aisha Tyler is one funny son of a bitch.”
Sharon Osbourne
“The first time I met Aisha I felt we could have been sisters. Tall, beautiful, African-American, comedienne…after reading Self-Inflicted Wounds I found we had more in common: setting the house on fire, peeing ourselves in public, and an endless list of people we’ve offended in some way.”
Andy Richter
“If you’re the type of sicko who enjoys a hilariously talented person debasing herself for your amusement, then Self-Inflicted Wounds is the book for you.”
Jay Chandrasekhar
“Aisha Tyler’s book, Self-Inflicted Wounds, is an uplifting, hilarious trek through her life of insults, agonies and failures. Each story is not only painfully funny, but it’s also thoughtful and stunningly candid. I really do love this book.”
Seth Green
“We all do stupid stuff, sometimes on purpose. But rarely do we ever talk about it, let alone publish an in-depth retelling-leave it to Aisha Tyler to help us all feel a little less dumb and a little more connected.”
author Touré
“Aisha is living proof that for nerdy outsiders things really do get better. But, in her case, before they got better, they got a whole lot worse. It’s impossible not to laugh while reading Self-Inflicted Wounds. It’s also impossible not to worry about Aisha’s mental health.”
Baratunde Thurston
“What Aisha says about embracing your fear and using mistakes to forge character is beautiful. What she says about Oprah is unforgivable.”
Bill Burr
“Aisha Tyler’s incredibly vivid stories of going for big air only to land flat on her face (or possibly a rusty spike) are a unique combination of cringe-worthy and inspiring. That she shares these stories makes me love her all the more.”
Wayne Brady
“Self-inflicted wounds. We all have them, but no one exploits their own pain for the funny like Aisha Tyler.”
Chris Hardwick
“Aisha Tyler’s brain moves faster than a shock spell from the hands of a lightning mage. She is hilarious, hyper-articulate, and will kick your ass in Call of Duty. She is the life of the LAN party.”
Kirkus Reviews
An actress and comedian's episodic ruminations about the painful blunders that helped shape her as a person and a successful stand-up comic. For Tyler, comedians are a breed apart--"lack of shame is our superpower [and] humiliation is fuel for [our] art." She demonstrates her commitment to her calling by transforming stories drawn from her life into fodder for laughter. The daughter of two African-American vegetarian hippies, Tyler was "seven kinds of weird" from the start. She was also an accident-prone bungler. When she was just 5 years old, she managed to slice herself from "nose to navel" after getting thrown from a rusted hobbyhorse. At 7, she nearly set herself on fire and burned down her apartment after a kitchen experiment in deep-frying went hopelessly awry. Her teenage years were equally rife with embarrassments. Wearing clothes that made her look like "Boyz II Men had gotten in a fight with an angry thrift store," she managed such ignominious feats as getting followed, and then caught, by her father at an underground San Francisco nightclub, taking the SAT with a massive hangover, and spewing vomit on two boys she liked two separate times. Tyler did her first comedy sketch--which involved her dressing in drag as a drunken frat boy--for classmates at Dartmouth. From that point on, she was "completely in love" with comedy, although she would not pursue it seriously until after she discovered that working for a living "suck[ed] major ass." Tyler's work is refreshing not just for its unabashed candor, but also for its humorous insights into the human capacity for screwing up and bouncing back. Things "will go wrong. Terribly mind-blowingly wrong." But under no circumstances should it stop someone from pursuing their dreams. Smart, sassy and surprisingly wise.

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Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
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Product dimensions:
6.38(w) x 9.16(h) x 0.91(d)

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Self-Inflicted Wounds

By Aisha Tyler

HarperCollins Publishers

Copyright © 2013 Aisha Tyler
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-06-222377-7

( 1 )
The Time I Cut Myself in Half
“The wound is the place where the Light enters you.”—RUMI
“This is gonna need ointment.”—AI SHA TYLER
When I was about five years old, I stabbed myself in the chest.
Well, not exactly stabbed. More like sliced. Yes. I sliced myself nose
to navel, as if conducting a frog dissection in science class. Only with-
out the relatively sanitary tools, face protection, or pursuit of scientific
And, also, on myself.
I could say it wasn't my fault. I could protest that it was an accident—
unforeseen, unpredictable, unkind, unfair. None of that would be true.
I did this on purpose. I knew exactly what I was getting into. The
entire debacle was calculated, focused, and gleefully headlong.
Before you gasp in horror and thinly disguised pity, this was no
suicide attempt.1 I was not trying to gut myself. At the same time, I can
blame no one else for the bloody vertical striping that occurred.
I courted that stabbing, poked at it with a metaphorical stick,
1 People have called me a lot of things, but one word they have never used is depressed. I
am, fortunately or not, depending on your perspective, nauseatingly upbeat, disgustingly
cheery. Please, withhold your disdain. This is a genetic condition. Much like synesthetes or
people who love musical theater, this is just how I was born.

taunted it like a rangy pit bull behind a wobbly storm fence, mocking
and laughing as it slavered in captivity—right up to the moment the
dog leapt, snarling against the wire, knocking the fence to the ground
like a structure of drinking straws and me face-first into the dirt. Or,
more accurately, face-first into the hot, abrasive summer pavement.
Some might call such behavior stupid. They would be one hundred
percent right.
Here's the thing. I am uniquely, and occasionally quite stupidly,
fearless. I have never been afraid. Well, not truly afraid. I have had
moments of trepidation, acted tentatively on occasion. Tiptoed toward
my fate timorously, doubts creeping, internal alarms blaring. Occa-
sionally, I exercise a bit of caution. But more often, and to my sustained
chagrin, I run sprinting toward my own demise, without consideration
or forethought. I like to shoot first and ask questions about why there
is a bullet lodged deeply in my own foot much, much later.
So on this golden August day in my fifth year, I had been playing
outside in my Oakland neighborhood with a dusty scrum of local kids
in a completely unsupervised group, the way we used to in the good
old days, before the Internet told parents that this was a terrible idea2
and likely to result in your child being abducted by aliens or devoured
by wolves. We were all in various states of typically dirty late-summer
disarray: faces sticky with rivulets of many-hours-dried melted Popsi-
cle and festooned liberally with dirt, most shoeless and many shirtless,
including (inappropriately I suppose in hindsight) me.
Yes, I was running around a city neighborhood unchaperoned, on
hot pavement with bare feet, and worse still, a bare chest.3 Now, before
you jump into your time machine and call Child Protective Services,
get over your prissy self. It was the seventies. Kids ran around unsuper-
vised. This is before people felt the need to meticulously curate every
2 Along with kids riding the bus, doing their homework without parental “assistance” (read:
“doing it for them”), using a kitchen knife or an open flame before the age of seventeen, or
anything else that builds character, instills mental toughness or makes kids into actual people.
3 I was a five-year-old girl. I still had a “chest.” If you think it was inappropriate, you need
therapy. Also, you may need to look out your front window and see if Chris Hansen from To
Catch a Predator is lurking in your bushes waiting to strike.

minute of their child's day. In the morning during the summer, par-
ents opened the front door and forcibly ejected their children into the
street with five dollars and a firm admonition to come home when the
streetlights came on and not to run into oncoming traffic. This is just
how things were done. I suppose if we were rich, the nanny could have
followed behind us in the family's second minivan, but we weren't, and
she didn't, and that, my dear friends, is that.
So we were running around barefoot, narrowly avoiding puncture
wounds from the abundance of rusted nails and broken bottles strewn
liberally about the streets, fleeing rabid dogs and hissing cats and the
occasional loitering ne'er-do-well, and having the time of our fucking
lives. We climbed some trees, chased an ice cream truck, terrorized a
squirrel, picked up dried dog poop, threw rocks at things that break
when they are hit with rocks, and were generally on raging kindergar-
ten fire, when we found an alley. Sweet.
Naturally, it being an absolutely terrifying place, and me being
feckless and wild,4 I decided to go into that alley. And why the hell not?
After you've touched dried dog feces with your bare hands, nothing
much else troubles you. And in that alley, among empty fruit crates and
mosquito-infested puddles, we found . . . an abandoned hobbyhorse.
Abandoned! Who the hell leaves a perfectly good hobbyhorse just
lying around? I announced to the group. Heathens! Profligates! God-
less people, that's who!
I was a dramatic child.
We dragged this hobbyhorse from its dank hiding place and into
the street, the better to surround it with hard surfaces that might em-
brace a small person's tumble. We surveyed it briefly from all sides to
confirm that it was, indeed, in functioning order. And then, in turn,
we each hopped on board and rode that thing like a Hapsburg prince
on a Lipizzaner stallion. Springs have never clung to life so dearly, nor
groaned in protest

Excerpted from Self-Inflicted Wounds by Aisha Tyler. Copyright © 2013 Aisha Tyler. Excerpted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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