Disclaimer: I received a complimentary review copy of this book. I’d like to think it didn’t influence my review, but who knows. (If you’d like me to review something comedy related on my site, contact me.)
“Chocolate, Please” by Lisa Lampenelli is unlike many books by comics I’ve recently read. Instead of taking her best hour of stand up, adding another two hours of second rate jokes and typing them up, Lampenelli takes the reader on a voyage of her struggles with weight, food and men, and the rehab clinics she attended because of them. This isn’t to say the book isn’t funny, it is, but this book stands on its own without you needing to be a fan of the writer or her comedy beforehand. (I was only vaguely familiar with her myself.)
Being a comedian I wanted to read more about Lampenelli’s comedy career struggles and less about her weight struggles. But then again, that seems to be her point: You can be really successful in one part of your life and a complete failure in other parts, and the success doesn’t fully matter until you’ve dealt with the failing parts. Along that train of thought, the line “As I believe is true in anything and especially comedy, all you need is one person who believes” struck me as especially poignant.
When Lisa does mention comedy, she hits the nail on the head with such observations as, “Comedy is a strange profession. People who have been onstage two times in their lives have business cards that say “Comedian.” Therefore, a comic’s entire career is focused on separating himself from the delusional wackos.” Other good observations include, “Comics who stand at the bar after their sets are either drunks or trying to get laid”, “When you’re an adult, it’s easy to ruin someone’s life. But when you can do it as a kid – that’s a gift” and “Our entire economic system is based on people succeeding just to stick it up the ass of people who were mean to them in high school.”
While I enjoyed reading the book, I would’ve liked it more without the last section, which drops her story and goes into random jokes and musings. (Although if you’re already a Lampenelli fan, you’ll probably like that section.)
Overall: This is an above average book in the comedy genre because it’s honest and follows an actual storyline. Read this book if you’re struggling with relationships and/or self image, or if you like a good “hero’s journey” type of autobiography. This also makes for a great gift if someone is just getting out of, or on their way to, rehab.