Monday, September 26, 2016

The joy of seeing yourself in another is not just pertinent to stand-up comedy, but to being alive

I got a copy of Phoebe Robinson's You Can't Touch My Hair from NetGalley and I was pretty excited cos just look at that cover. Hilarious women are my thing and this book has not the top spot on that list but an impressive position.

The book is a series of essays about what it's like to be black and/or female. she takes some very serious topics and manages to tackle them in a hilarious way without playing down how important these discussions are. Some of the chapters are focused on events in her life, while others are a much more general take on the topic. Most are somewhere in between.

If you can't guess from the title, she has multiple chapters about black hair, including her relationship to her hair, black hair icons through the years, and America's relationship to black hair.
The fear of black hair has been an ever-present part of America's social history. The tumultuous relationship between black hair and America can best be explained this way: If black hair is the hardwood floor in a Broadway theater, then America is Savion Glover, just soft shoeing all over the floor during a production of Bring in 'Da Noise, Bring in 'Da Funk.
She talks about good hair and bad hair and the treatment she gets when wearing different styles (she's called angry much more often when sporting an afro than when her hair is straight).

Robinson has a distinct writing style that involves a LOT of pop culture references and things like "" which I was worried was going to get old real quick. Somehow she managed to juuuuuuuuuust teeter on the edge where I found it funny the whole time, while worrying at some point it was going to fall over and things were going get eye-rolly. Perhaps it's the fact that she's discussing serious and upsetting topics so this style manages to balance things out so you can still hear the anger while also laughing with her. Like when she went on Last Comic Standing (or something similar) and after her set the judges spent their time critiquing her headshot and telling her she came off sounding too smart and she should watch out so she can be more likable. So listen, you need some pop culture and ridiculousness thrown in there.
I mean, I have taken a nap during a pregnancy scare because I was like, "Eh, it can wait."...My fallopian tubes got all Gandolf-y and said, "You Shall not pass," and shut it down. 
Now I think there should be a pregnancy test that tells you your results in Ian McKellen's voice.

She also talks about things like her guilty pleasures (including ranking the guys in U2, which she loooooooooves), things that need to do better (hello, NFL and your treatment of women), and has a series of letters for her young niece Olivia. And I legitimately found myself laughing out loud at points, so that's always fun.

I'm going to need to check out her podcasts, 2 Dope Queens (with Jessica Williams who wrote the foreward to this book) and Sooooo Many White Guys because if they are anything like what we have here, I am FOR IT.

Gif rating:
Title quote from location 2550

Robinson, Phoebe. You Can't Touch My Hair: And Other Things I Still Have To Explain. Plume, 2016. NetGalley