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My Life as a Goddess: A Memoir through (Un) Popular Culture

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In the vein of New York Times bestsellers Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling and We Are Never Meeting in Real Life by Samantha Irby, a collection of side-splitting and illuminating essays by the popular stand-up comedian, alum of Chelsea Lately and The Mindy Project, and host of truTV’s Talk Show the Game Show. From a young age, Guy Branum always felt as if he were on the outside In the vein of New York Times bestsellers Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling and We Are Never Meeting in Real Life by Samantha Irby, a collection of side-splitting and illuminating essays by the popular stand-up comedian, alum of Chelsea Lately and The Mindy Project, and host of truTV’s Talk Show the Game Show. From a young age, Guy Branum always felt as if he were on the outside looking in. Self-taught, introspective, and from a stiflingly boring farm town, he couldn’t relate to his neighbors. While other boys played outside, he stayed indoors reading Greek mythology. And being gay and overweight, he got used to diminishing himself. But little by little, he started learning from all the sad, strange, lonely outcasts in history who had come before him, and he started to feel hope. In this collection of personal essays, Guy talks about finding a sense of belonging at Berkeley—and stirring up controversy in a newspaper column that led to a run‑in with the Secret Service. He recounts the pitfalls of being typecast as the “Sassy Gay Friend,” and how, after taking a wrong turn in life (i.e. law school), he found stand‑up comedy and artistic freedom. He analyzes society’s calculated deprivation of personhood from fat people, and how, though it’s taken him a while to accept who he is, he has learned that with a little patience and a lot of humor, self-acceptance is possible. Written with Guy’s characteristic blend of wit, guile, and rumination, My Life as a Goddess is an unforgettable and deeply moving book by one of today’s most endearing and galvanizing voices in comedy.


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In the vein of New York Times bestsellers Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling and We Are Never Meeting in Real Life by Samantha Irby, a collection of side-splitting and illuminating essays by the popular stand-up comedian, alum of Chelsea Lately and The Mindy Project, and host of truTV’s Talk Show the Game Show. From a young age, Guy Branum always felt as if he were on the outside In the vein of New York Times bestsellers Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling and We Are Never Meeting in Real Life by Samantha Irby, a collection of side-splitting and illuminating essays by the popular stand-up comedian, alum of Chelsea Lately and The Mindy Project, and host of truTV’s Talk Show the Game Show. From a young age, Guy Branum always felt as if he were on the outside looking in. Self-taught, introspective, and from a stiflingly boring farm town, he couldn’t relate to his neighbors. While other boys played outside, he stayed indoors reading Greek mythology. And being gay and overweight, he got used to diminishing himself. But little by little, he started learning from all the sad, strange, lonely outcasts in history who had come before him, and he started to feel hope. In this collection of personal essays, Guy talks about finding a sense of belonging at Berkeley—and stirring up controversy in a newspaper column that led to a run‑in with the Secret Service. He recounts the pitfalls of being typecast as the “Sassy Gay Friend,” and how, after taking a wrong turn in life (i.e. law school), he found stand‑up comedy and artistic freedom. He analyzes society’s calculated deprivation of personhood from fat people, and how, though it’s taken him a while to accept who he is, he has learned that with a little patience and a lot of humor, self-acceptance is possible. Written with Guy’s characteristic blend of wit, guile, and rumination, My Life as a Goddess is an unforgettable and deeply moving book by one of today’s most endearing and galvanizing voices in comedy.

30 review for My Life as a Goddess: A Memoir through (Un) Popular Culture

  1. 5 out of 5

    Larry H

    4.5 stars. "We talk about nature and nurture when analyzing a person's character. We see two ways that an identity is formed. One is biological, the mean of parents' traits passed down genetically. The other is environmental: How did the world around this person guide and encourage him? The problem is that by either of these methods, I shouldn't be me. I should be shorter and dumber and not at all concerned with what pairs well with star anise syrup in a cocktail." (BTW, it's notes of orange.) At 4.5 stars. "We talk about nature and nurture when analyzing a person's character. We see two ways that an identity is formed. One is biological, the mean of parents' traits passed down genetically. The other is environmental: How did the world around this person guide and encourage him? The problem is that by either of these methods, I shouldn't be me. I should be shorter and dumber and not at all concerned with what pairs well with star anise syrup in a cocktail." (BTW, it's notes of orange.) At a young age, Guy Branum already knew he was different. Growing up in Yuba City, a farming town in Northern California, he was much larger (both taller and fatter) than his peers. Big boys were supposed to be fighters, but Guy didn't have it in him to fight. What he wanted to do was sit inside, read, and learn, find answers to the endless number of questions he had, about nearly everything in the world. But that met with disapproval from his parents, especially his father, who wanted his son to act "normal." As Guy grew older, as he grew bigger and fatter, he indulged his father's wish and played high school football for four years. But he never had any passion for it. And as he realized he was gay, he knew that was another reason society would look down on him. What he wanted more than anything was to get out of Yuba City, go someplace more exciting, and be free of the expectations of those around him. And while he felt bad about himself, and tried to hide himself and who he really was in plain sight for so long, at some point he realized that he was worthy of love and success and praise, no matter what others might say or think. "I'm not supposed to like myself, and I'm certainly not supposed to think that I should matter. The world has spent a lot of time telling me that, and in the past thirty or so years, I often listened, because we all listen. The world is mostly full of fine facts and good lessons, but some of those facts and lessons were built to keep you down. And I got kept down for decades. Then I remembered that I was a goddess. I may not always feel like it, but I have powers." In My Life as a Goddess , a memoir/collection of essays, Branum shares his long journey to self-discovery, from his difficult relationship with his father to the love of movies he shared with his mother; his discovery of his sense of humor and his writing ability while attending Berkeley—which led to an interesting run-in with the Secret Service; what he believes to be society's struggles with both fat and gay people; finally feeling free enough to go to gay clubs; and the rise of his career as a stand-up comedian, comedy writer, and occasional actor. Parts of this book were literally laugh-out-loud funny. (I got more than my share of odd looks when I read this book in public, and the one time I laughed so hard I couldn't breathe I realized I needed just to read it at home.) Branum's love of pop culture, television sitcoms, movies, and music felt so familiar to me. More than a few times I thought he and I could be great friends, or we'd try to out-funny each other, and he'd probably win, so I'd feel bitter. But this is more than a comic memoir. My Life as a Goddess has real emotional heft to it as well, and I found myself nodding and even tearing up at times as I recognized situations which occurred in my own life. Branum is tremendously insightful but he doesn't feel sorry for himself; he recounts his life in a very matter-of-fact way. You may think that the difficulty of his journey helped turn him into the immensely funny man he has become, and certainly you see that with a lot of LGBT people, whose creativity was burnished amidst poor treatment. Branum's childhood and his growth into adulthood was a difficult journey, but thankfully he has risen above it, and more thankfully for us, he is willing to share himself with us. At times he rambles a bit on unrelated topics (and he even recognizes it as he is doing it), but then his heart and his sense of humor shine through, and you realize this book, and this man, are truly special. See all of my reviews at itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com, or check out my list of the best books I read in 2017 at https://itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com/2018/01/the-best-books-i-read-in-2017.html.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Heather K (dentist in my spare time)

    I have an addiction to celebrity memoirs, especially those of comedians. I've read and/or listened to dozens of them, and though I'd never heard of Guy Branum, the cover and his work credits made me interested. To be honest, I expected something... funny. All of the comedian memoirs I've read have been funny, or at least, tried to be funny. My Life as a Goddess: A Memoir through (Un) Popular Culture didn't. The book is really a memoir of someone's life as an outsider in a medium-sized, admittedl I have an addiction to celebrity memoirs, especially those of comedians. I've read and/or listened to dozens of them, and though I'd never heard of Guy Branum, the cover and his work credits made me interested. To be honest, I expected something... funny. All of the comedian memoirs I've read have been funny, or at least, tried to be funny. My Life as a Goddess: A Memoir through (Un) Popular Culture didn't. The book is really a memoir of someone's life as an outsider in a medium-sized, admittedly interesting, town in farmland-ville California. Guy Branum is a very smart guy, something he easily and unconsciously shows off with his prose and vocabulary (I had to use my Kindle definition feature a few times, which I don't normally have to do), but I had a hard time picturing him being, well, funny. I could see him as a writer, even a television writer, but even at the end I had a difficult time figuring out his comedic style. If you are looking for a funny book or one with lots of Hollywood gossip, this really isn't the story for you. If you want a pop-culture heavy story about a Jewish (-ish) guy from California who used his brains and luck to find a satisfying career in Hollywood, then you are on more of the right track. Though it wasn't what I expected, I still enjoyed My Life as a Goddess: A Memoir through (Un) Popular Culture. I think if you are a fan of Guy's or a big Chelsea Handler fan, you would enjoy this one. *Copy provided in exchange for an honest review*

  3. 4 out of 5

    Ulysses Dietz

    My Life as a Goddess (A Memoir Through (Un)popular Culture) By Guy Branum Published by Atria (division of Simon & Schuster), 2018 Five stars Guy Branum’s brilliant memoir is essentially J.D. Vance’s overly-praised “Hillbilly Elegy” as written by a funny gay man. I surely didn’t expect that when I bought it, but there you are. What this book really drove home to me – again – is that gay men need to write our stories, because we’re still largely getting left out of mainstream history (which means My Life as a Goddess (A Memoir Through (Un)popular Culture) By Guy Branum Published by Atria (division of Simon & Schuster), 2018 Five stars Guy Branum’s brilliant memoir is essentially J.D. Vance’s overly-praised “Hillbilly Elegy” as written by a funny gay man. I surely didn’t expect that when I bought it, but there you are. What this book really drove home to me – again – is that gay men need to write our stories, because we’re still largely getting left out of mainstream history (which means television, movies, cable, theater, music, dance, plus actual history). No matter what it seems like to you, especially if you’re still under 40, what I say is true. So, if you’re a writer, write your own story, because it matters. Guy Branum’s self-deprecating comic memoir is smart, hilarious, heartbreaking. He grew up an overlarge inquiring sissy boy in blue-collar rural California (learning about the setting of his childhood is worth the read on its own—we Easterners are appallingly ignorant). He has lived his adult life as a fat gay man in a gay world where conventional looks and bodies are way too important. He has been a professional comedy writer for many years now, surviving and even thriving in the nastiest, most judgement-filled part of American commercial culture. Guy Branum is indeed a goddess. Guy Branum could also be my son, and I’d just like to reach up (he’s tall) and hug him and tell him that he’s loved. This book mattered to me because of the story and because of Branum’s gift as a writer. There’s a great deal of insight into modern reality, which is both a buffer and an amplifier to his personal story of struggle and survival. His life is a generation younger than mine, and every single detail is entirely different from mine in every possible way – and yet on every page there is something that resonated with me and my life. It says something that we can have such different lives with such common experiences, and that’s exactly why this book is important.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Erin Cataldi

    I will admit, I had no idea who Guy was before I read this book, not even an iota. After reading this though, I am in awe that I somehow completely overlooked his whole career. He's so funny! How did our paths never cross? Part memoir, part humor, part history and pop culture lesson; this memoir is unique and entirely fun to read. I'm a huge fan of footnotes and there are A TON of footnotes; humorous asides, sarcastic comments, clarification, etc. It's genius! The stories I enjoyed the most were I will admit, I had no idea who Guy was before I read this book, not even an iota. After reading this though, I am in awe that I somehow completely overlooked his whole career. He's so funny! How did our paths never cross? Part memoir, part humor, part history and pop culture lesson; this memoir is unique and entirely fun to read. I'm a huge fan of footnotes and there are A TON of footnotes; humorous asides, sarcastic comments, clarification, etc. It's genius! The stories I enjoyed the most were the ones where Guy is rehashing his youth growing up in a quasi-Jewish home in the redneck hills of California as a giant gay child. It's humorous, real, raw at parts, but he never loses levity. Another great celebrity memoir by someone you may or may not have heard of, but are certainly glad you did by the end of the book.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Glenn

    I wanted to like this more than I did. Bits are laugh out loud funny, but over all it feels flat. Mr Branum is obviously quite smart and witty but I was hoping fore more in the vein of David Sedaris and less in the vein of a literary journal.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Taurie

    I got this book as a goodreads giveaway not knowing anything about Guy Branum. I was looking forward to a funny memoir, but this book was mostly Guy describing tv shows and movies. I don’t feel like I learned many things about him and I certainly didn’t laugh.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Megan O'Hara

    This was kind of a slog and sometimes had so many digressions that I lost the thread of whatever the essay was originally about. I also wish that he treated the reader like less of an adversary with whom he couldn't possibly have anything in common. That said I really enjoyed some of the essays (especially the one about finding yourself in narratives you are meant to be excluded from, but also the ones about fatness, his Passover seders, how he came to stand-up, and the epilogue).

  8. 4 out of 5

    Molly

    I didn't know anything about Guy Branum previously, but now I am a huge fan. Branum is a stand-up comedian/actor/writer/lawyer/all-around talented fella. He is also gay, very tall, and very large. And he's very, very good at trivia and quiz bowls. (You will be better at both those things as well if you read this book and remember even 1/3 of the references - there's a Jenny Holzer allusion, FFS!) Though this book is full of humorous autobiographical essays, it's also got a ton of great insights i I didn't know anything about Guy Branum previously, but now I am a huge fan. Branum is a stand-up comedian/actor/writer/lawyer/all-around talented fella. He is also gay, very tall, and very large. And he's very, very good at trivia and quiz bowls. (You will be better at both those things as well if you read this book and remember even 1/3 of the references - there's a Jenny Holzer allusion, FFS!) Though this book is full of humorous autobiographical essays, it's also got a ton of great insights into queer theory, homophobia, and politics -- in one of the most bizarre details in the book, Branum was "treated" to a Secret Service visit after making an offhand comment about then-First Daughter Chelsea Clinton in a humor column written for his college paper. It was perhaps the first time that he rose to national attention, but definitely should not have been the last. Not only are Branum's stories funny and heartfelt, but he has the best vocabulary of any writer I've encountered in quite a while. I found myself having to look up a word or two every few pages to make sure that it meant what I thought (or to learn what it meant). Branum attended law school, has a near-encyclopedic knowledge of trivia, and his passion for using the right word for the right situation is not only admirable, but downright inspiring. Just read this book and be glad you did, damn it. I received access to this title via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Sasha

    this book really did not live up to the hype!! Lots of people I like and podcasts I listen to recommended it but it was so underwhelming. I think the thing that bothered me the most was the tone, it was v pretentious. And I know it’s in the title that this book covers unpopular culture so I should’ve been prepared but I just did not enjoy reading extended metaphors and analyses of shows and movies that I have not and will never see

  10. 4 out of 5

    Erin

    This was a lovely read. I'm mostly familiar with Guy from his podcast, Pop Rocket, and I loved his thorough analysis of multiple topics in this book. Guy is incredibly funny, but he also manages to convey incredible pain and general cultural analysis. Many parts of this book aren't a laugh riot, but that's fine by me. In my opinion, the purchase was worth it simply for the amazing chapter "The Man Who Watched The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance."

  11. 5 out of 5

    Adam Sockel

    There are countless celebrity memoirs in the world and almost as many where people tell their story about coming out but few are as insightful and powerful as Guy's. He manages to tell his side of the story while also thoroughly breaking down the aspects of his story beyond himself. He is well read, quick witted and hilarious. I've long enjoyed his stand up and his comedic writing but the aspects of this story that really moved me are when he uses unflinching honesty to explain his relationship There are countless celebrity memoirs in the world and almost as many where people tell their story about coming out but few are as insightful and powerful as Guy's. He manages to tell his side of the story while also thoroughly breaking down the aspects of his story beyond himself. He is well read, quick witted and hilarious. I've long enjoyed his stand up and his comedic writing but the aspects of this story that really moved me are when he uses unflinching honesty to explain his relationship with the people who have had the biggest impacts on his life. He not only explains these relationships but he also explains what could have happened had he done things differently. It's somber, striking and beautiful. Oh and his breakdown of the meaning behind bohemian rhapsody is one of the most intelligent things I've ever read.

  12. 5 out of 5

    andthenisay

    Read if you're into: close readings of pop culture, close readings of Queen songs, close readings of John Wayne films, close readings of personal experiences as if they are fiction (but in a good way). Do not read if: you don't know what close readings are. AKA this is a pop culture books for people who knew how to English majors, even if they weren't English majors. I cried like four times. I loved it.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Matthew Faulkner

    I hate critiquing memoirs. Who am I to judge someone else’s life and experience? This book was difficult to slug through. 50% of this book was fascinating and I could deeply relate to. There were lines from the book I wanted to share with friends and family and be like, wow, this guy is me! His college experience, coming out story and fascination of all things pop culture resonated deeply with me. But then 50% of the book were strange allegories that I could not connect with. Guy devoted an entir I hate critiquing memoirs. Who am I to judge someone else’s life and experience? This book was difficult to slug through. 50% of this book was fascinating and I could deeply relate to. There were lines from the book I wanted to share with friends and family and be like, wow, this guy is me! His college experience, coming out story and fascination of all things pop culture resonated deeply with me. But then 50% of the book were strange allegories that I could not connect with. Guy devoted an entire chapter to Canadian history. And not in a funny context...straight up Canadian history. And when the book ended with an allegory about Entourage, I was done and spent.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Tim Mclaughlin

    This is one of the best memoirs I’ve ever read. I wish I could go back in time and give it to myself when I was 15. Guy is hilarious, obviously, but he also has some of the most insightful analysis of issues affecting gay men. His writing is super intelligent, but also super approachable.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Cameron Harrie

    It was smart to include the subtitle of this book, "A Memoir through (Un) Popular Culture." This is by-and-large a book of cultural critiques and to some degree, straight-up descriptions of plots of movies and TV shows. Many of the cultural references from his childhood are admittedly outside of my own timeline, but I understood a fair amount. If you are someone who knows of Guy from his truly fabulous podcast "Pop Rocket," you won't be out-of-place, until Guy derides you for probably not gettin It was smart to include the subtitle of this book, "A Memoir through (Un) Popular Culture." This is by-and-large a book of cultural critiques and to some degree, straight-up descriptions of plots of movies and TV shows. Many of the cultural references from his childhood are admittedly outside of my own timeline, but I understood a fair amount. If you are someone who knows of Guy from his truly fabulous podcast "Pop Rocket," you won't be out-of-place, until Guy derides you for probably not getting a reference which you may in fact get. It was his keen self-awareness that pointed out what I, as a gay man, felt frustrated by. This is maybe not a problem of his, but a problem that Guy speaks to throughout the book: the need for gay men to hide certain facts about themselves due to how they may be perceived by the outside world. Much of this felt like it was written for straight girls- gay men don't need the constant explanations and footnotes about what gay culture is. I was left wanting a little more grit. In the coming out story, there was no revelatory sexual experience. Perhaps he wanted to avoid that cliché, perhaps his experience was uncouth, or perhaps he fell victim to the gay-man-as-eunuch pitfall: We can be funny, quippy, and clever, but that ends when we describe the way our private parts are used. Some of it was repetitive, and I felt could have used some editing finesse- perhaps, though it's a stylistic choice. It is a memoir, not an autobiography, but I don't love the jumps around in time- a linear storyline would have been better, in my opinion. All-in-all, I fell in love with Guy throughout this book. He has a truly agile mind, even if he may try a little too hard to prove it. I hope the book is successful enough to warrant another one. Not to get too schmaltzy or personal, but when he learns to love himself a little more, enough to allow someone else to love him- I'd love to get that perspective down the line. It's worth the read, and is more than anything an inspirational story that may just get you to look at things a little differently.

  16. 4 out of 5

    John Amory

    The first few chapters on Guy's youth were amusing and kind of fun, but there's a lot of bitterness that comes through in later chapters and one essay that's particularly problematic and just put me off entirely.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Nikiverse

    I initially picked this book because I remember Guy as one of the panelists on Chelsea Lately. But this isn't a normal comedian memoir. Guy grew up in the turdish part of California where he did not fit in. But he was a voracious reader and media consumer. And he eventually went to law school and started stand up comedy (I think in that order). So he's an interesting guy, this Guy. "You had no idea that buying the book by the gay guy from Chelsea Lately would have this much agriculture in it, di I initially picked this book because I remember Guy as one of the panelists on Chelsea Lately. But this isn't a normal comedian memoir. Guy grew up in the turdish part of California where he did not fit in. But he was a voracious reader and media consumer. And he eventually went to law school and started stand up comedy (I think in that order). So he's an interesting guy, this Guy. "You had no idea that buying the book by the gay guy from Chelsea Lately would have this much agriculture in it, did you? I never signed up for it, either. Guy talks about his farming town, battles from the Greeks or some stuff, movies, movie tropes being bullsh*t, books, being gay, and then he FINALLY dishes on Chelsea Lately and all of his work experiences in Holllywood (HI IM NIKI IM HERE FOR THE GOSSIP) There wasnt really any point where I was laughing out loud, but Guy has a unique perspective on life. He's smart and witty and that's what we need.

  18. 4 out of 5

    LeAnn Locher

    The audio quality of this book is pretty bad: Guy fluctuates from yelling to quietly talking, and each chapter segues with horrible music. WHY PUT MUSIC IN AN AUDIO BOOK?! But then there's the content....I'm a fan of Samantha Irby, and the description of this book being in the same vein as Samantha Irby is just plain wrong. She's funny, side splitting hilarious. Guy Branum's book is pretty chock full of unabashed privilige, whining, and hiding behind humor for some ugly behavior. Ugh. I wanted t The audio quality of this book is pretty bad: Guy fluctuates from yelling to quietly talking, and each chapter segues with horrible music. WHY PUT MUSIC IN AN AUDIO BOOK?! But then there's the content....I'm a fan of Samantha Irby, and the description of this book being in the same vein as Samantha Irby is just plain wrong. She's funny, side splitting hilarious. Guy Branum's book is pretty chock full of unabashed privilige, whining, and hiding behind humor for some ugly behavior. Ugh. I wanted to really like this memoir, but add to what I've already written the chapters that are totally random ramblings of things about Canada, I just can't even finish this book.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Becky

    I didn’t know that this author was a comedy writer when this book was recommended to me but once I saw the cover I totally had to read it. I admit I had expected it to be a lot funnier than it was—this is an understandably angry man with a side of snark. Guy grew up in a family who, outside of his mother, didn’t understand him. At all. So he resorted to books to look for kinship, knowledge, and safety. His favorite stories when he was a kid were stories from mythology, which sounds a lot like my I didn’t know that this author was a comedy writer when this book was recommended to me but once I saw the cover I totally had to read it. I admit I had expected it to be a lot funnier than it was—this is an understandably angry man with a side of snark. Guy grew up in a family who, outside of his mother, didn’t understand him. At all. So he resorted to books to look for kinship, knowledge, and safety. His favorite stories when he was a kid were stories from mythology, which sounds a lot like my childhood. The best line of the book is “then I remembered I’m a goddess” and I’m totally going to start using it.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Moira

    Guy, one of my favorite podcasters, brings his intellectual wit to his very funny and very nerdy memoir.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Kate

    Guy cracked me open in ways I wasn't expecting. I laughed, of course, but also cried and got chills and got mad. I loved this book.

  22. 4 out of 5

    amanda eve

    A blisteringly witty, incredibly insightful memoir. I'm a fan of celeb memoirs, and this is definitely high on my list.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Evan

    I had no idea what this would be, and ended up loving it. He’s a smart, hilarious writer, and I’m a sucker for clever/mean jokes AND Joan Didion references.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Viktoria

    Preface: I didn't know who Guy Branum was before reading it. I don't watch much TV. I've only absorbed about 10% of pop culture over the past 10 years. And yet, this book is hilarious! It's worth listening to for his rants about Canada, Babette's Feast, RBG, and various historical facts alone. I didn't know him before but I'd like to go out for cocktails with Guy now.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Richard Parent

    As someone who's never watched the TV shows Chelsea Lately or The Mindy Project (don't judge me!), Branum wasn't a familiar face or name to me. But his story of his life growing up gay in Yuba City and then his adventures in TV and film did feel very familiar to me. With grace and humor, Branum uses all of the major touchpoints of pop culture (TV, film, music, the Hollywood Industrial Complex) to show us a different perspective on the things we take for granted and he tells us enough about himse As someone who's never watched the TV shows Chelsea Lately or The Mindy Project (don't judge me!), Branum wasn't a familiar face or name to me. But his story of his life growing up gay in Yuba City and then his adventures in TV and film did feel very familiar to me. With grace and humor, Branum uses all of the major touchpoints of pop culture (TV, film, music, the Hollywood Industrial Complex) to show us a different perspective on the things we take for granted and he tells us enough about himself and his life to help us see where that perspective is coming from. I love his opening story about Leto and Zeus and Hera, and I'll never listen to Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" the same way again. This was a very funny and very touching book. I'm glad I read it, and I think you might like it, too.

  26. 4 out of 5

    John August

    Terrific in ways I hadn't expected. I've read a lot of comedian memoirs. They're all funny and insightful the ways you expect them to be. And so is Guy Branum's book. But what surprised me was how vividly he captured growing up in rural northern California. It's not just that he was a swan born into a family of ducks; that's true for many (most?) gay people. It was the specificity of his little farm town that stuck out, and the odd way that dust bowl had deposited them all there by chance. He was Terrific in ways I hadn't expected. I've read a lot of comedian memoirs. They're all funny and insightful the ways you expect them to be. And so is Guy Branum's book. But what surprised me was how vividly he captured growing up in rural northern California. It's not just that he was a swan born into a family of ducks; that's true for many (most?) gay people. It was the specificity of his little farm town that stuck out, and the odd way that dust bowl had deposited them all there by chance. He was part of it and apart from it, yet couldn't escape it even after he'd left for college. The early chapters could be a book in themselves.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Manda

    I know of Guy from the podcast world and always enjoy his contributions, so picked the audiobook to listen to. It was intelligent, insightful and occasionally funny, but the storytelling dragged and felt repetitive. Maybe it's shallow, but the truth is I was hoping for more career dish/celebrity gossip. Instead, this was all basically glossed over in one of the very last chapters. And while I knew I SHOULD appreciate the long detours on topics like Canadian and Punjabi history, I didn't - it fel I know of Guy from the podcast world and always enjoy his contributions, so picked the audiobook to listen to. It was intelligent, insightful and occasionally funny, but the storytelling dragged and felt repetitive. Maybe it's shallow, but the truth is I was hoping for more career dish/celebrity gossip. Instead, this was all basically glossed over in one of the very last chapters. And while I knew I SHOULD appreciate the long detours on topics like Canadian and Punjabi history, I didn't - it felt like someone smart trying to show off to the reader how clever they were.

  28. 5 out of 5

    El_kiablo

    Guy Branum's book is an interesting case study in the benefits and limits of what we might call "woke comedy." On the one hand, the way that he mixes humor in with sociological insight can be good; when it works it makes the jokes feel more substantial and it makes the sociology feel less ponderous. But when it doesn't work - well, then it ruins both of them, by sucking the fun out of the jokes and by making the sociological sections feel petty. Overall I think Branum gets the balance right - the Guy Branum's book is an interesting case study in the benefits and limits of what we might call "woke comedy." On the one hand, the way that he mixes humor in with sociological insight can be good; when it works it makes the jokes feel more substantial and it makes the sociology feel less ponderous. But when it doesn't work - well, then it ruins both of them, by sucking the fun out of the jokes and by making the sociological sections feel petty. Overall I think Branum gets the balance right - there's more good than bad here, particularly when it comes to the chapters about his family, which are often quite touching. However, when he does overshoot the mark it can be very frustrating. In particular I'm thinking of the footnotes where he imagines imaginary objections and then argues against them, because those almost always come across as overly defensive and neurotic. You can tell that Branum's a writer who has come into his own during the age of Twitter because whenever he makes a point about how he faced discrimination because of his sexual orientation he anticipates someone trying to undercut his argument by pointing out that he's still privileged because he's a white male -which is exactly the sort of response you'd see in a Twitter thread. But there's a difference between a book and a Twitter thread. You don't necessarily ask to see a specific perspective in your Twitter feed - their algorithm regularly shoves random accounts into your eyeline - so naturally that's a more contentious space. In contrast, you shouldn't have to argue that your perspective is legitimate and worthwhile in your own book. If we've picked up your memoir you should trust that the reader believes your insights are worth reading. If we didn't think that then why would we have specifically sought out your book in the first place? When 'woke comedy' like My Life As a Goddess works it is great - open hearted and forward thinking, it can reaffirm your faith in humanity and make you laugh to boot. But when it doesn't work it is exhausting, because having to follow a train of thought through every potential counter- argument that a thought-policing pedant could throw at it is laborious and very much the opposite of hilarious. I can't say that I loved this book, but I will give it this: it seems like it is a good distillation of who Guy Branum is, and there's worth in that, and it also seems like a good snapshot of where we are as a culture at the moment (on the left at least), and there's worth in that, too. It could have been a lot better if it was maybe 15% less self conscious, but unfortunately we don't live at a time when being un-self conscious makes sense. No, we live in a time when every single idiot with a GoodReads account can chime in on every single book they read with all their half-assed criticisms, and how are you supposed to create something that's totally open and honest in an environment like that?

  29. 4 out of 5

    Allison

    I have always been a fan of Guy but this book made me love him even more. I teared up often reading this starting at the just first chapter because I was so inspired by the story behind the title of the book. This book taught me so many things about words, pop culture, and random historical events all while making me laugh. He has incredible take on how pop culture that will forever change how I view T.V. shows and movies. He discusses in depth with many examples about the power they have in hel I have always been a fan of Guy but this book made me love him even more. I teared up often reading this starting at the just first chapter because I was so inspired by the story behind the title of the book. This book taught me so many things about words, pop culture, and random historical events all while making me laugh. He has incredible take on how pop culture that will forever change how I view T.V. shows and movies. He discusses in depth with many examples about the power they have in helping people identify with the stories that are told. Guy’s story in itself is inspirational as he went from being a lawyer to comedian/writer and has worked with Joan Rivers & Mindy Kaling.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    Received from Net Galley in exchange for review. This was, overall, an enjoyable book. At times I felt that Branum didn't tie chapters and sections together as well as he could have and there were definitely a few stances he took that I didn't love, but this was well-written, amusing, and heart-felt. I also obviously enjoyed reading about somebody else that wasted three years going to law school

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