2016 Gift Guide for Comedy Lovers

Comedy Lists Gift Guide
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2016 Gift Guide for Comedy Lovers

Uh oh—we’re almost at Christmas and you still need something for that comedy person in your life. Whether it’s a cousin who loves the writing on Inside Amy Schumer, a coworker who can’t stop recounting old segments from The Daily Show or an improv-obsessed buddy, we’ve sifted through the comedic offerings of 2016 for your last-minute gifts this year. Here are comedy-themed ideas for all the writers, performers or just good ol’ comedy enthusiasts in your life.

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1. Seinfeldia: How a Show About Nothing Changed Everything by Jennifer Keishin Armstrong

$17.10 on Amazon

With the entire series just a few clicks away on Hulu, there’s no better time to gift a die-hard or late blooming Seinfeld-head this in-depth look at the making of the seminal sitcom. From interviews with actors who created characters like the Soup Nazi, to behind-the-scenes tales of mining writers’ lives for material, TV historian and entertainment writer Jennifer Keishin never needs to resort to “yada, yada, yada” in this comprehensive tome.


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2. A Seeso Subscription

$3.99/month at Seeso

If there’s one thing any comedy enthusiast wants, it’s even more ways to take in content. Streaming channel Seeso features ad-free specials and shows from comic voices like Wyatt Cenac, Michael Ian Black and Dan Harmon, along with ensemble pieces from the Upright Citizens Brigade and the all-star cast of the real estate show parody Bajillion Dollar Properties. They also have excellent original series like Take My Wife, starring real-life wife-comedians Rhea Butcher and Cameron Esposito, and the travelogue show Hidden America with Jonah Ray. With new content premiering all the time, Seeso gives a comedic super boost to streaming.


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3. A “Diamond Joe” T-shirt

$23.99 at The Onion

Yes, we’re losing Joe Biden as Vice President in 2017. But even more devastating for comedy fans is the loss of the iconic character The Onion has created: the Bizarro Joe Biden they call “Diamond Joe.” The Onion has been creating and heightening “The President of Vice” for over eight years, and you can memorialize him and his exploits with this classy t-shirt. May the image of Diamond Joe washing his Trans Am in the White House driveway live forever in our hearts.


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4. An Online Humor Writing Class

$399 through Gotham Writer’s Workshop

Rather than a notebook and a box of pens for the aspiring comedy writer, why not give them the chance to get actual feedback on their work? For writers outside of LA, NY and Chicago, the opportunity to meet other writers online and form relationships with instructors can be the prodding they need to get serious. The Gotham Writer’s Workshop offers online humor writing courses for students anywhere in the world, completed on their schedule. If you love someone, give them the gift of internet strangers criticizing their funniest work.


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5. Don’t Think Twice

$14.99 on iTunes

For his second feature film, storyteller, comedian and performer Mike Birbiglia chose to tell the raw (yet hilarious) story of a team of improvisers and what happens when one of them finally hits it big. Covering topics like knowing when to move on, friend jealousy and art for art’s sake, Don’t Think Twice takes ideas that could have easily turned dark and adds just enough sugar to make them bittersweet. It’s a must-watch for improv fans and performers.


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6. The Daily Show (The Book): An Oral History by Chris Smith

$18.00 at Amazon

The giant hardcover book looks like it will take a year to read, but the engaging anecdotes and behind-the-scenes snapshots of the show’s evolution from Craig Kilborn to John Stewart to current hose Trevor Noah practically make the pages turn themselves. And the oral history format allows the many, many different voices—from co-creator Lizz Winstead to Stewart to the correspondents who have broken out from the show—to have their say on the long-running Comedy Central show.


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7. Advice from Ira Glass Writ Large

$25.99 from Gravitas Recordings

For jaded comedy lovers, an inspirational quote might seem like a total gift misfire. But This American Life host Ira Glass has captured something very essential about the frustrating pursuit of excellence in this quote. His view on working until you create things in line with your taste level is a must read for anyone attempting to write or perform comedy. In twenty lines, he unpacks so much about why the field is both frustrating and magical.


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8. A Functional Website

Domains and Templates starting at $20 annually at Squarespace

Lets get real—many comedy people struggle with the business side of things. Help them take an important first step in their career by getting them started with a simple website. Squarespace has a variety of clean templates to showcase their work, and you can pay for a year of hosting the site to get them up and going. Then they can customize to their heart’s delight (or to the extent of their html knowledge).


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9. You’ll Grow Out of It by Jessi Klein

$18.20 on Amazon

Jessi Klein is the head writer of Comedy Central’s hit sketch show Inside Amy Schumer and an award-winning writer and storyteller in her own right. In You’ll Grow Out of It her real-life tales of being an awkwardly late bloomer, trying to find watchable porn and struggling with her fertility are laced with both wit and finely observed emotional moments. The book strikes a balance between funny and moving that leaves the reader knowing they’re in the hands of a master.


10. Mitch Hedberg: The Complete Vinyl Collection

$90.71 on Amazon

Mitch Hedberg released two albums during his lifetime, with a third coming out three years after his death. All are mandatory listening for comedy fans—and relistening, and listening again, and then relistening once more after that, in a cycle that you will probably never grow tired of. Hedberg’s jokes are so short, so punchy, so perfectly crafted and delivered that they feel more like favorite songs than stand-up comedy. And now, in a move that perfectly fits Hedberg’s stoner metal vibe (dude loved Monster Magnet), all three albums have been reissued on vinyl in a gorgeous box set from Comedy Central Records. The limited edition four LP set includes his three albums, a USB drive full of MP3s and an uncut version of Hedberg’s 1999 Comedy Central special, and a beautiful oversized book with writing from Mike Birbiglia, Doug Stanhope, Margaret Cho and Hedberg’s widow, Lynn Shawcroft. Whether you’re a diehard Mitch fan looking to supplement out your CDs or MP3s with something more substantial, or just somebody who loves comedy and wants to know why Hedberg is so venerated today, Mitch Hedberg: The Complete Vinyl Collection is basically a must-own.—Garrett Martin


Caitlin Kunkel is a comedy writer, satirist and noted pizza scientist. She teaches for Second City and takes off her pants as soon as she gets home. She’s on Twitter @KunkelTron.

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