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A Very Punchable Face

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Goodreads Choice Award
Nominee for Best Humor (2020)
If there’s one trait that makes someone well suited to comedy, it’s being able to take a punch—metaphorically and, occasionally, physically.

From growing up in a family of firefighters on Staten Island to commuting three hours a day to high school and “seeing the sights” (like watching a Russian woman throw a stroller off the back of a ferry), to attending Harvard while Facebook was created, Jost shares how he has navigated the world like a slightly smarter Forrest Gump.

You’ll also discover things about Jost that will surprise and confuse you, like how Jimmy Buffett saved his life, how Czech teenagers attacked him with potato salad, how an insect laid eggs inside his legs, and how he competed in a twenty-five-man match at WrestleMania (and almost won). You’ll go behind the scenes at SNL and Weekend Update (where he’s written some of the most memorable sketches and jokes of the past fifteen years). And you’ll experience the life of a touring stand-up comedian—from performing in rural college cafeterias at noon to opening for Dave Chappelle at Radio City Music Hall.

For every accomplishment (hosting the Emmys), there is a setback (hosting the Emmys). And for every absurd moment (watching paramedics give CPR to a raccoon), there is an honest, emotional one (recounting his mother’s experience on the scene of the Twin Towers’ collapse on 9/11). Told with a healthy dose of self-deprecation, A Very Punchable Face reveals the brilliant mind behind some of the dumbest sketches on television, and lays bare the heart and humor of a hardworking guy—with a face you can’t help but want to punch.

312 pages, Hardcover

First published July 14, 2020

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About the author

Colin Jost

1 book773 followers
Colin Jost is a head writer at Saturday Night Live, a Weekend Update co-anchor, and a touring stand-up comedian. He has five Writers Guild Awards, two Peabody Awards, and a PETA Elly Award for the sketch “Diner Lobster.” He’s also been nominated for thirteen Emmy Awards and lost every time. He lives in New York and in the hearts of children everywhere.

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5 stars
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 5,753 reviews
Profile Image for Heather K (dentist in my spare time).
3,859 reviews5,634 followers
March 29, 2021
I've read about a million comedian memoirs, and to be honest, they usually disappoint me. It is hard to be funny in book-form, and it's even harder to make a fairly drama-free upbringing sound remotely interesting. But Colin Jost made me laugh, like OUT LOUD, and I didn't even want to punch him in the face once! (Well, maybe a little, but that's just because I'm a very wimpy puncher and his face is just so punchable!)

I truly picked this book up with the most middling of expectations. Maybe one or two other comedian memoirs have really impressed me, and I didn't think that a white guy from a good family with a Harvard education could be that entertaining. Yes, I enjoy Colin Jost on SNL, but I've enjoyed other comedian's work and hated their too-earnest and painfully unfunny books.

But, holy crap, this book was just so great. I mean, if you have my sense of humor and you find stories about pooping your pants, getting drunk and vomiting random places, and having a harrowing edible experience to be hilarious. And, to be honest, haven't we all done those thing? If you haven't, we are possibly not friend-compatible...

The book isn't all stuff that sounds dumb and juvenile (but, I swear, those things are funny in a way that isn't just "drunk white guy"-funny). There are serious topics too, like the way Colin Jost's mother was deeply involved in saving dozens of lives during 9/11, working tirelessly on the scene as as chief medical officer for the New York City Fire Department. I also really enjoyed the peak into the insane work ethic that Colin has that took him to Regis (fancy) for high school and Harvard for college.

But what really makes this book is Colin's skill as a comedic writer. Colin knows how to tell a story and make it funny. That's so difficult to do, and Colin makes his story feel like you are talking with your neurotic, hilarious friend from childhood who likes to hide in trees when drunk and injure himself way more than you think normal for a man of his age (and, no, Colin isn't always drunk, just... well, yeah, he does talk about drinking a lot).

I did NOT want to put this book down. I have this rubric of book-ratings that I mentally go through when I'm reading a story, and if a book makes me want to read it while driving because it's that addictive, then it's an automatic 5-stars. And, no, I didn't read it while driving, but I did longingly look at my Kindle at stop lights.

It's hard to describe exactly why I loved this book so much, but I have to chalk it up to a combo of masterful comedy writing, a well-organized and edited book, and stories that I could personally relate to (doctor parent, happy childhood, good education... and definitely not the crapping your pants or edibles stories. I'm waaaay classier than that). And, yes, Scarlett Johansson fans, we get a very minor peek at their relationship and why she and Colin Jost are most likely wanted by the Paris police.

Wholeheartedly recommended for SNL fans and also people who just like funny stories. Colin Jost knocked this one out of the park.

*Copy provided in exchange for an honest review*

Profile Image for Nilufer Ozmekik.
2,196 reviews40.6k followers
April 17, 2021
So hilarious, ultra smart, laugh out loud guaranteed memoir!

OMG, I adored the name of it! Don’t get me wrong! Colin Jost has nice, smiley face and he’s not one of those douchebag characters at the thriller books I want to punch several times to punish severely. But something about his smile makes my fists itchy!

Anyways as a loyal and longtime fan of SNL at first when Colin Jost and Michael Che took over weekend update from Seth Meyers, I got a little frustrated. Mr. Meyers was doing such a great job and for a long I criticized and compared these two men’s performances and sketches with him.

Then I heard the one and only Scarlett Johnson got engaged with this sweet guy still have a punchable face figures ( that’s what my fists think) but as long as I kept watching their creative news section, I slowly changed my mind. This guy is smart and this guy is truly funny.

So when dear Mimi Chan sent me his memoir, I was delighted to learn more from his life. I was so sure this won’t be ordinary comedian memoir I’ve read and hated before ( the guy has been working nearly two decades for Lorne Michaels and I’m so sure dear Black Widow doesn’t choose any ordinary guy to marry!)
And guess what! I fell so hard! ( not the guy! His sense of humor! My only celebrity crush is Tom Ellis who was born at exactly same day with my husband ! Okay I lied! I also have crush on Tom Hardy! I think I’m obsessed with “Tom”name! )

I laugh and laugh and laugh! I was so close to pee in my pants! I enjoyed Colin’s dark and absurd sense of humor! I enjoyed how he was raised in Staten Island, the parts he blocked the words inside his head which prevents him to be a good talker but better writer, his cinnamon roll obsession, his wrestling games with his brother which end at child psychiatrist’s couch, his nearly 2 hours long journeys to school, his adjusting process in Harvard.

But during 9/11, his mother’s heroic achievements to save people as she was working at NYFD were sentimental. You can feel oozing emotions throughout the pages and sense how he is proud of his own mother!

Overall: after a big Thanksgiving dinner and bottles of Champagnes later, I opened this beauty and kept reading till the morning. I’m thankful to have this book and I spent one of the best holiday moments with the help of this most enjoyable memoir!

I’m giving my five weekend updates, Staten Island ferry’s dancing rats stars! This is not good! This is perfect! If you want to laugh nonstop and have amazing time, just read this memoir! I already voted for this book for Goodreads Choice Awards! Crossing my finger for its big win!
Profile Image for Regina.
1,136 reviews3,000 followers
April 25, 2021
“I always wanted to punch his face before I read his book. Now I just want to kick him in the balls.” ~Larry David

Hey Larry, I hear you. Has there been a more aptly named memoir than this one? Count me among the many who just didn’t like Colin Jost for no real reason whatsoever, but fortunately I trusted my book-reviewing pals more than I disliked the guy. They were liking A Very Punchable Face more than I could have expected. And guess what? After reading it now I like him!

For anyone wondering, “Uhh, who’s Colin Jost?” He’s 1) the head writer on Saturday Night Live, 2) the cohost of the show’s “Weekend Update” segment, and 3) now the husband of Scarlett Johansson. He’s also now the author of a very funny memoir that happens to be humble and surprisingly touching too. He takes us from his (chubby) childhood on Staten Island, to his college years with the Harvard Lampoon, through his standup gigs to his life at SNL now.

It will probably help if you have any interest in Saturday Night Live, but it’s not a prerequisite. The early chapters before he gets there are just as good if not better than when he takes readers behind the scenes of the show. In particular, one chapter is entirely devoted to his mother’s involvement in the September 11th attacks as part of the NY fire department. That chapter is called, “Why I Love My Mom.” How can you not love that?

Jost does spill a little tea about his SNL castmates and celebrity cohosts, but overall his intention doesn’t seem to be to skewer anyone. (Except - as he says - someone with the initials R.C. with “ussell” following the R and “rowe” following the C. Don’t think anyone can blame him there.) And he seems genuinely in love with ScarJo. Awwwww.

On that note, I’ll leave you with this. Universe, please stop trying to make “ScarJost” happen. It’s not going to happen. Don’t make me kick you in the balls.

Blog: www.confettibookshelf.com
IG: @confettibookshelf
Profile Image for Miranda Reads.
1,589 reviews155k followers
March 5, 2021

Hey! January 2021 Reading Vlog is up!!

I think the mark of a good humor memoir is if someone who hasn't heard of the author before can walk away from the book saying they had a good time.

And let me assure you. I had a good time.

For those not in the know (like myself), Colin Jost has had an illustrious career in comedy. He began by writing for his college's newspaper and eventually made it to SNL's head writer.

He does between 50-100 standup comedy routines a year, became the weekend-update cohost and married Scarlett Johansson.

This book is a humorous look into the experiences that led him to where he is today which are (but are not limited to): getting internal parasites, pooping his pants, passing out in a cemetery in a foreign comedy, bombing local comedy shows, bombing comedy shows on national television and more stories about poop.

In short - it was a dang good book.

I loved his tone and the way he read his own book - great comedic timing. I liked how he gave just enough context for everything he's done so that even me (a newbie) could laugh along with the long-time fans.

All in all, this is a lovely and funny read. Definitely recommend it!!

With thanks to Crown Publishing for sending this one my way!

YouTube | Blog | Instagram | Twitter | Facebook | Snapchat @miranda_reads
Profile Image for Lori.
359 reviews425 followers
September 6, 2020
Colin Jost has worked at SNL for fifteen years. head writer for nine, host of Weekend Update since Seth Myers left in 2014 and has co-hosted with his bestie Michael Che pretty much ever since...

He also attended Harvard, edited the Lampoon, majored in Russian Lit and wrote a thesis paper entitled "Double Cross: The Double as Delusion in Nabokov's Novels 'The Eye' and 'Despair," which likely had keen insights but being Colin Jost he also makes great fun of the titles of school papers. He spent time for his thesis in St. Petersburg meant to translate an obscure short story by an obscure Russian writer, and what happened there is hilarious. And though he doesn't talk much about it, he is engaged to Scarlett Johansson, and they seem to be soulmates. She's very intelligent, talented and one can assume blessed with great patience based on that incident where he, without realizing it, defiled the property of the Musee d'Orsay...

What Colin Jost's life, his autobiography and SNL have in common is sometimes they work and sometimes they bomb. On the whole I enjoyed it a lot because of all the funny bits. And he's a very interesting guy. I could have done without the TMI scatalogical info but like the show there are hits and misses and if you read it, yours won't be the same as mine...

It all starts with Staten Island which he correctly points out other New Yorkers characterize as that weird borough with mobsters, massive landfills and Cropsy, a serial killer of small children who may be an urban legend (but the dead children are real; a mediocre film was made about it because without facts there's not much to hang a film on). Before 9/11 and still, many firefighters live there. Colin grew up with many who are relatives living on the same block or nearby. I mention this because there's a lot of self-deprecating humor about his childhood and yes, he was a pudge and his breasts were truly strangely large for a little boy and all through his childhood he gives photographic proof of how punchable he was, and it's increasingly funny -

-- and then it's 9/11 and we learn his mother was the physician for all New York firefighters. And while sketchy because this book is written in short pieces, there's a brief but harrowing account of his mother's experience at the site. She knew every single firefighter that was killed. The circumstances of her survival are amazing. He aspires to do what he considers bigger things than SNL, in any case different things because he's very humble about his career, and I mention this without spoilers of her experience on that day and the following ones because anyone reading it will be glued to that part of the book, the only time, and so it provides a hint that he's capable of writing captivating prose...

It's a fun trip to take with him, whether he's telling stories about his childhood or college (where his parents wish he had befriended classmate Mark Zuckerberg), his partying years, the job, the workplace, the hosts. Fans of SNL will learn a lot about what goes on behind the scenes and a little about some old and present cast members. He's done stand-up for a long time and it reads as stand-up sometimes which is great because it was so freeing to laugh that much...

And there's inside info on SNL, although as always he remains professional except to name the worst guest host ever (this is not new information to some). If you don't like SNL this is not your book because the humor is all in that vein. Some is sophomoric, no question. When it's funny it's often very funny..

I would have liked a bit more on Pete Davidson, who he's always seemed so protective of and whose dad was one of the firefighters who died on 9/11. And definitely more on his best friend, Michael Che. Watching them do Update it's obvious what a rich friendship they have, and how hilarious they are together, and that there's real love between them and I hope when he leaves SNL (probably after the election, he says) that he and Che will team up again and again -- professionally. Scarlett has said Che is forbidden to throw the bachelor party. Hah!...

Towards the end the reader feels his yearning. He wants to settle down, get a more regular job because the hours at SNL are ridiculous and not conducive to marriage and a family, and he wants children. He mentions movies, tv, he wants something that will give him a more normal life. (I'd be fine if he pivoted to Russian literature as long as he behaves in St. Petersburg.) He's so obviously good and kind and smart, with a big heart, fans will end up rooting for him, although he doesn't ask us to, to settle down and have his dreams come true, the very punchable fat kid from Staten Island with big boobs who never could have foreseen all his accomplishments and hopefully the great future ones and happiness with Scarlett to come.
Profile Image for Elyse Walters.
4,004 reviews36k followers
November 16, 2020
Ever finish a book that’s quite fun and you’re curious to read what everyone else said?
Then spend your lunch break ( after your 2 hour hike)...
apples, berries, and yogurt: thank you, ....
....only to find the reviews almost as much fun as the book itself?

When I first received this book in the mail ( thank you, Mimi), about six weeks ago, give or take a few weeks....I didn’t even recognize the
“VERY PUNCHABLE FACE”....on the book cover..
SNL, comedian?? Ok?/!!!

I don’t stay up late enough to watch the SNL...but I’m not completely living under a rock. (partially)....
I’ve seen SNL a few times —
*Colin Jost*,... new to me.

I read one review of this book soon after I received my gift many moon-weeks ago...
( thank you Susanne)... and she was smitten... so I thought I would give it a try myself.
after reading a little of the physical book - especially enjoying the adorable black and white photos —
I noticed my library had the audiobook ... ready instantly...
And I figured Colin Jost would be reading his own memoir— ( which he was)....
So.... I switched to the audiobook.

I enrolled Paul. He and I got into the large warm soaking pool last Saturday morning... ( no clothes needed)...
It was early... ‘super early’...
but thankfully no neighbors complained when they heard Colin Jost on the loud speaker through their fence as Paul, and I enjoyed our morning.
Isn’t it fun to watch you partner laugh - louder than you?
I enjoyed this book - ( even after Paul left me and Colin to continue without him)...
Paul figured somebody should get real work done...
Ha... that wasn’t a criticism of me —really it wasn’t 🙂

Paul missed my favorite part...
I loved when Colin shared about his mom—(chief medical officer for the NYFD).
Colin’s love and pride for his mom made my heart melt — she was a heroine during 9/11.
Colin was so proud of his mom—
I became an instant Colin Jost fan!!

The entire book had an uplifting spirit... love, warmth, and laugh out loud moments:
Here’s a funny for those interested:
Josh writes:
“Fast-forward an hour or two, and I am the drunkest I have ever been. Which is realistically four drinks deep.
I’ve technically eaten a full ohranj. The good news: I ain’t getting scurvy. The bad news: I’m about to puke everywhere.
So I do what any self-respecting Staten Islander would do: I go outside and puke all over the lawn”.
“Now, if you’ve ever gotten really sick, or if you’ve ever been me for a full calendar year, you know that when things are coming out of the Holland Tunnel, odds are things are coming out of the Lincoln Tunnel, too. For charity, the Lincoln Tunnel is a butt. Joke about Log Cabin Republicans TBD”.
“So I’m on my coworkers lawn with a full diaper, staring down at the garden gnome that’s covered in ravioli I ate for lunch, when I hatch a genius plan: I’ll go home to my parents’ place for, like, forty-five minutes, shower and change my clothes, maybe sneak in a quick nap, then be back at the party before Jessica even notices”.
“My plan wound up working perfectly. EXCEPT that instead of showering and changing my clothes and going back to the party, I took my soiled pants off put them in my parents’ washing machine, FORGOT TO PRESS START, then fell asleep on their couch for eight hours”.
“I know, I’m pretty good at life”.

The reviews are fun too.

One reviewer wrote:
“To the negative comments about him needing to ‘get a life’.....
“Really? Dude he is engaged to Scarlett Johansson the sexiest woman ever ( and I am a straight woman even I know this and I am jealous of him for it!)

Love it ... fun book!
Shhhh..., and truthfully Colin Jost is a sweet, smart, talented, funny, likable guy!

5 stars from me!
Profile Image for John Mauro.
Author 5 books395 followers
April 2, 2023
Colin Jost, I wasn't expecting you to make me cry. 😢

Colin devotes a chapter of his memoir to his real-life hero, viz., his mother, who served as chief medical officer for the FDNY for 40 years. The chapter focuses on his mother's experiences during 9/11. She rushed to World Trade Center as soon as she learned about the attack and was present during the collapse of both towers. During the collapse of the towers, her life was saved twice by the heroism of FDNY firefighters. She, in turn, saved as many lives as she could as their medical doctor. Of course, there were so many lives that she couldn't save, despite her best efforts. Colin's mom is a real-life hero. This chapter serves as a beautiful tribute to her heroism and, frankly, is the highlight of this memoir.

The rest of the memoir tells the story of Colin's life in a more typical self-deprecating comedic style. Colin's descriptions of growing up in Staten Island are truly hilarious. We also learn about his college years at Harvard, where Colin focused on Russian literature and comedy while his classmates were inventing Facebook (Mark Zuckerberg) or sweeping Ivy League football (Ryan Fitzpatrick).

The latter part of the book is devoted to Colin's career at SNL beginning with his early days as a staff writer. Colin then became head writer and eventually cohost of Weekend Update. There are a lot of great stories here that SNL fans will appreciate. I really love how much respect he has for his colleagues.

If you are looking for juicy details about his relationship with Scarlett Johansson, you won't find them here. Colin Jost wisely keeps his relationship with Scarlett out of scope for this book.

It should be no surprise that Colin Jost is an excellent writer. Except for the chapter dedicated to his mom, the rest of the book is laugh-out-loud funny. The whole book is very well written.

This is definitely a five-star read for SNL fans everywhere.
Profile Image for Kelly (and the Book Boar).
2,444 reviews7,535 followers
February 6, 2020
Find all of my reviews at: http://52bookminimum.blogspot.com/

Per the placeholder below, I have a bit of a thing for Colin Jost. In all honesty, though, I kind of have a thing for SNL performers period. I have talked ad nauseam about my lifelong affinity for the Not Ready for Primetime Players and how some of my fondest childhood memories involve shoveling late-night Pizza House paper thin crust pizza and Italian beef sammiches into my mouth while watching Eddie Murphy rise to fame. By the time I was old enough to actually understand the jokes it was an era most would consider pretty great with the likes of Dana Carvey, Jan Hooks, Nora Dunn, Phil Hartman, Victoria Jackson, Mike Meyers, Kevin Nealon, etc. And then there was magic. Sandler, Spade, Rock, Schneider, Meadows and the incomparable Farley. In all actuality, while there have been some clinker seasons, who can argue that the groups listed above didn’t provide the hardy-hars or that others before and after didn’t do the same? I mean the original cast with Belushi and Chevy Chase and Dan Akroyd and Jane Curtin and Gilda Radner and Garrett Morris? Brilliant. Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Rachel Dratch and Maya Rudolph finally shutting up the douchecanoes who were still trying to argue that “women can’t be funny.” Priceless. And this current batch of kids like Aidy Bryant, Mikey Day, Chris Redd and Kate McKinnon ain’t nothing to shake a stick at either. There’s also this new guy who I think has potential *wink* . . . .

Dear Kenan, I hope you make ten million dollars a year and please never leave. You are everything.

Anyhow, so I watch a crapton of SNL and I try to read any and all former/current cast member memoirs that come out as well. I am what you might call a superfan. I want to hear all the details about being a part of my favorite show and I want zero filter used while dishing (David Spade wins this category). Jost’s book scores high with me for the following:

10. Despite not being an entry about SNL – as mentioned below he does talk about how many times he has pooped his pants in his adult life . . . . .

That will never not be funny to me.

9. When it comes to talking about guest stars who were awful, everyone seems to clam up. Not Jost. He flat out says the worst person he ever had to work with “had the initials R.C. and then after the R is an “ussell,” and after the C is a “rowe”” . . . .

8. He wrote a “spec script” for one of my favorite TV shows of all time . . . . .

Without knowing that said show had already been canceled.

7. He wrote another show that like three people in the entire world ever watched and two of those people just so happen to be me and my kid . . . . .

6. He willingly admits his fails like the eight episodes of Weekend Update he co-hosted with Cecily Strong (who is GREAT on SNL, they were both just really terrible together attempting to do the fake news) and hosting the Emmy’s. (To his/Che’s credit, they actually proposed a few bits that were potentially hilarious but vetoed by the powers that be.)

5, 4, 3, 2. He is responsible for skits that made me laugh so hard I woke my sleeping children up . . . . .

And #1. Relationship goals. No, not Scarlett Johansson. If anyone thinks that marriage will last, then I have some oceanfront property to sell you in the middle of the Sahara. Nope, I’m talking about the real deal . . . .

They are the reason I stay up until at least 11:15 before dozing off due to my old age and watching the remainder of the show with my morning coffee on Sundays. It will be interesting to see where the show goes without Jost’s involvement. Fifteen years is a long time and his input will be greatly missed. Not to mention the fact that he's such a tall, delicious glass of egg whites ; )

ARC provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you, NetGalley.


I have been in love with Colin Jost for the past six years and his intro declares he will tell a story about shitting his pants as an adult. The fact that I'm not auto-5-starring this should prove what an upstanding, honest member of society I am ; ) Now, get over here you creamy slice of provolone cheese so I can read you.
Profile Image for Matthew.
1,219 reviews8,823 followers
October 4, 2020
I recently had a friend text me and say something about how people toss around the acronym LOL, but they are not really laughing out loud. But, every once in a while you see or hear something funny and you actually do laugh out loud. Colin Jost's book had many LOL moments for me where I was really laughing out loud.

If you don't watch SNL or are not familiar with Colin Jost, I don't think there is a point in reading this book. Sometimes a non-fiction book seems like it could be easily appreciated by a reader unfamiliar with the subject. While it is a very good book that I enjoyed a lot, I don't think this is one of those of those that would be appreciated by the Jost-uninitiated.

But, if you do like SNL, like to laugh, don't mind silly toilet humor (in this case, literally a few times) then I am pretty sure you will enjoy and should check this book out.

And, no, I don't want to punch Colin Jost, but based on his stories I can see why he feels that way!
Profile Image for Holly.
1,430 reviews983 followers
November 9, 2020
I started reading this on election day in the US and fittingly finished it on Saturday when they announced Biden was the projected winner. I badly needed a funny book during this uncertain time period, and this fit the bill. I laughed *so hard* during the chapters "Oops, I fell asleep in a graveyard" and "The chapter about alcohol and drugs". Now, I will give you fair warning, the chapter "Why I love my mom" is not a funny chapter - it's about 9/11.

I don't even watch SNL that much, but for some reason this is the third SNL cast member autobiography I have read. In ranking them, I would say this is better than Amy Poehler's Yes Please, but a bit lower than Tina Fey's fabulous Bossypants. I would recommend all of them as audiobooks because they narrate their own books and obviously they do a great job at it. However, in this book Jost continuously recommends that you buy the physical book because he refers to photos that are in it. I would instead recommend just going to the library or bookstore and flipping through it to see the photos after you have finished listening to the audiobook, and call it a day.
Profile Image for Larry H.
2,484 reviews29.4k followers
November 28, 2020
A Very Punchable Face , Colin Jost's memoir, is both funny and introspective.

I don’t read a lot of memoirs, particularly those written by celebrities, but when I was in the airport the other day looking for a backup book for a cross-country flight, I saw Colin Jost’s face staring at me and I decided to pick this one up. While I watch Saturday Night Live rarely, I do enjoy the "Weekend Update" segment that Jost does with Michael Che. I also think he and Scarlett Johansson make a great couple. (Plus, I will admit that his face may be punchable, it’s also handsome.)

In this memoir, Jost touches on many different aspects of his life. He recounts his childhood growing up in Staten Island and his immensely accident-prone nature (he’s had numerous stitches and broken bones). Of course, the bulk of the book follows the trajectory of his comedy career, from writing for the Harvard Lampoon to his 15 years (and counting) with SNL.

While most of the book is told in a sarcastic and self-deprecating style, there are times when Jost is surprisingly sensitive and introspective, including a chapter about his mother and her activities during 9/11. Don't go looking for gossip about SNL or his relationship with Johansson, though; this is more a recounting of events and his feelings about them than a tell-all.

A Very Punchable Face was a very enjoyable read. It’s not shocking or mean-spirited; it’s just as fun as Jost appears to be. And that hit the spot!

Check out my list of the best books I read in 2019 at https://itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com/2020/01/the-best-books-i-read-in-2019.html.

Check out my list of the best books of the decade at https://itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com/2020/01/my-favorite-books-of-decade.html.

See all of my reviews at itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com.

Follow me on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/the.bookishworld.of.yrralh/.
Profile Image for Susanne.
1,159 reviews36.8k followers
September 6, 2020
Colin Jost is an icon. Harvard Alum. Head Writer at SNL, host of Weekend Update.

Brilliant, Funny, Self-Deprecating. Lover of his hometown: Staten Island.

In his Memoir, “A Very Punchable Face” he is affable, approachable, extremely funny and highly relatable. For a guy who is so famous, it’s impressive to discover how down to earth he really is.

Being from the East Coast, I laughed often as he told stories of growing up in Staten Island and absolutely adored that he defended it at all costs. The story he told of his mother, the Chief Medical Officer at the FDNY, during 9/11, made me tear up. Anyone who remembers where they were on that day, and the lives that were lost, will be impacted by Colin’s story of his amazing mother.

Then there were the many stories of SNL. Admittedly, I stopped watching after High School and have only tuned in now and again to watch political skits of Tina Fey and/or Alec Baldwin, therefore I haven’t really seen Jost as the host of Weekend Update. He made me feel as though I am seriously missing out! After reading his anecdotes, I admit to googling Weekend Update with Colin Jost, to see him in the gig. Getting an inside scoop into that life was highly intriguing.

“A Very Punchable Face” is a funny, honest and interesting memoir that truly grabbed my attention. I am so glad that I was given the opportunity to read it and gain insight into the life of Colin Jost and recommend this to anyone looking for an honest, humorous, intriguing read. 3.5 Stars

Thank you to Mimi Chan at Goodreads for the arc.

Published on Goodreads on 9.6.20.
Profile Image for Karen.
573 reviews1,115 followers
May 24, 2022
Very Good!
I have been an SNL fan since the beginning.
Colin started out as a writer on the show in 2005 and now is co-anchor on the show’s Weekend Update.
He talks about his years growing up on Staten Island… living with his relatives as neighbors …his years in college at Harvard, his career growth on SNL, cast-mates and shenanigans… all very funny!
I got quite emotional though, on the chapter about his mother..she is the retired chief medical director for the New York City Fire Department and was right in the middle of things as the planes first hit on 911.
In fact 75% of his family worked for the fire department.
This was written in 2020 just before his marriage to Scarlett Johannson.

I listened to the audiobook… narrated by Colin.
Profile Image for Jenny (Reading Envy).
3,876 reviews3,049 followers
May 1, 2020
I started reading this when the publication date was still listed as April, but now it has been pushed to July. (I think this is going to happen a lot while so much is shut down.)

If you know Colin Jost from Saturday Night Live, then you are familiar with the tone of this book - in fact we've seen a few of the SNL from Home episodes and if you've watched that version of Weekend Update, the funny without the laughter, just kind of sent out into the universe - that's how this book feels to me.

The last few chapters are about what it's like to be a writer or Weekend Update co-host on SNL, but the majority of the book is about his life before that, including childhood. It's like a mixture of Rescue Me (Staten Island version) and... male Gilmore Girls maybe? Small town smart kid has to go to the big city and ends up at Harvard, only to turn towards career paths like small town newspapers, stand-up, and writing for television. Colin Gilmore.

But I enjoyed it. Honestly if Rescue Me hadn't already done it, I think his family's story is compelling enough for its own book or tv series (especially his mother, who has the most holy shit story of the entire book) - and when I thought Colin had leishmaniasis I started swearing so I'm glad he threw some of those tangent chapters in. His description of the Staten Island Ferry is probably award worthy. He humble-brag downplays some of his accomplishments in the way a white Catholic-raised male has to these days, but they really are quite significant. His descriptions of speech & debate tournaments are spot on (but then you realize he went to freaking nationals, hello.) He is comfortable making fun of himself, a brand that he has carried with him into SNL.

Now this comes out in July, the 14th last I saw, so keep your eyes out!

I had a copy of this from the publisher through Edelweiss.
Profile Image for Sofia.
257 reviews6,451 followers
August 2, 2021
*secondhand embarrassment intensifies*
Profile Image for Brian.
688 reviews335 followers
March 27, 2022
“More than anything, I learned that comedy could be an actual job.”

Full disclosure, I had no idea who the author was when I picked this up at the library. It was on a display shelf, and I liked the title. I thought, “It’s winter, this looks witty and harmless, why not?” It was indeed harmless, but having read it (and taking a long time to) it never drew me in. I can’t really tell you that the experience gave me anything. It did not take anything either. It was just there.

A highlight of the book is the chapter “Why I Love my Mom” which deals with Mr. Jost’s personal connection to 9/11. It is a lovely, and harrowing, description of that horrific day. It is also a very nice tribute to his mother.
I enjoyed the first part of the text, however, after Mr. Jost graduates from college this book took for me a decidedly dull turn.

Especially bad is a long chapter where Jost (who writes for Saturday Night Live) gives his highlights of SNL sketches over the 15 plus years he has been there. It reinforced for me that I have missed nothing by not watching that show in over 20 years.

I did laugh and laugh however when the author tried to sell me on the idea that he and SNL are nonpartisan. I could point out several instances in this very book where Jost contradicts that with his own words. Be partisan, what do I care? But don’t pretend you aren’t. That insults me.

A couple of funny lines:
• “So it’s never a good sign when your German side is the less repressed one.”
• “I understand why some people want to punch me. I’m self-aware enough to realize what I look like.”

I don’t regret reading A VERY PUNCHABLE FACE. It did not do much for me, but it was okay. And that’s okay.
Profile Image for Lisa.
396 reviews52 followers
February 14, 2022
Colin Jost's memoir A Very Punchable Face is one of those books that came at the right time for me.

Jost tells of his growing up on Staten Island, some of his escapades at university, and his adventures in his career at Saturday Night Live. While not every story lands with me, there are plenty of laugh aloud moments. Jost tells his tales in a candid, self-deprecating manner. And there are plenty of relatable moments.

"I would wander the streets alone at 2 or 3 A.M., then return to my dorm and write poetry, with titles such as "A Blurred Vision," "The Artist's Flaw," "The Life of a Man," and "The Stranger You Love to Meet." So yeah, it was pretty bleak. And that was before I wrote a poem called "Shall I Flee Her Gripping Curse?" (Holy shit.) If my computer ever gets hacked, I pray they go for the photos and not the poems."

My awful poetry years were in high school, not university; and my titles were just as bad--think dreaded teenage angst. I am so glad those pages don't exist any more; I wrote in the days before computers.

“In fairness, my mother suffers from Giant Irish Family Syndrome, where she can’t even remember her own children’s names without cycling through multiple cousins first. “Hey…Sean, I mean Patrick, I mean Colin!” It could be worse. She often gets to the dog’s name before my brother, Casey.”

This syndrome isn't peculiar to the Irish, just to big families. My cousins and I used to make fun of my grandmother (she was the frequent caretaker of her 10 younger siblings and when she had her own household her nieces and nephews had the run of her house along with her 2 children, and then came my generation including our friends); there was always a long recitation of names until she got to whichever of us she wanted. And despite only having 2 children, I later found myself listing names (and laughing in belated sympathy) until I got to whichever child I needed from the throng in the backyard.

Having grown up with SNL, I was 13 when it first aired, I enjoyed Jost's stories about his time there. 15+ years is an amazing run, and he has had his hand in a large percentage of the most loved skits.

One note of trivia, the first 2 years it aired it was called Saturday Night because there was a variety show called Saturday Night Live with Howard Cosell.

Many reviews mention the mom story. That's because it's a touching and sensitive tribute to the Fire Department of New York City and a love letter to his mother. Dr. Kelly was the chief medical officer for the FDNY, and he tells the tale of her activities during 9/11. I shed a tear or two, and that's not something I do often. While not a funny tale, to me it's the strongest tale in the collection, told with a lot of respect, admiration, and heart.

I listened to the audio of this book. Jost knows how to tell a story and make it sound funny; his comedic timing and delivery are pitch perfect when going for the laugh.

Thank you, Kierstyn for recommending that I also get the print copy so I could see the photos.

If you enjoy SNL-type humor, you'll enjoy this book, and you'll be left at the end in the warm glow of laughter.
Profile Image for Trish.
1,927 reviews3,402 followers
December 6, 2020
I had not known this guy. Interestingly and unbeknownst to me, though, I know a little of his work for SNL.

Yes, this is a memoir. I'm usually not good with those. Most annoy me because the market is flooded with those of show business people that are full of themselves. Also, most of them are far too young to have anything interesting to say anyway. Judging by this book's cover, Jost should have been in that latter category. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find that he had indeed a great many interesting things to say.

Jost went to Harvard (very interesting take on the university, by the way), detailed how he became a writer for Lampoon, how he experienced 9/11 (his mother was a Chief Medical Officer for the FDNY) as well as the aftermath, his career, his family life (how he was raised and his relationship with his various family members), growing up with a severe speech impediment (especially interesting considering his line of work now) and much more.

And yes, the book is funny. Not in this laugh-out-loud way some movies are, but in the natural way you sometimes get when you're having a conversation with an actually funny person.
Unless he was talking about serious events like 9/11 and his family's experiences since they are almost all doctors or firefighters, of course.
I was also glad to see that he seems like a down-to-earth, well-read guy.

A light read, sure, but an entertaining one about a seemingly nice guy with the sad disability of having a truly punchable face. *lol*

P.S.: I even started watching some of his Weekend Updates and yes, I was entertained. :D
Profile Image for HBalikov.
1,734 reviews648 followers
March 6, 2021
"I was awake on pure adrenaline from working at the show (Saturday Night Live) I always wanted to work at and hanging out with really funny friends who were all single and didn’t want to go home to their tiny, barely furnished New York apartments."

"I also just love books. They were my first escape and the only way I traveled and learned about the world without leaving the island I grew up on. Books were my ticket to a good high school and a good college. And books were how I learned about the people I admired, from Teddy Roosevelt to Tina Fey (the modern Teddy Roosevelt)."

Memoirs by those in the world of comedy are hit or miss. Some try too hard to make the reader laugh. Some are just puff pieces to gratify the author’s sense of self-importance. Some are just not funny at all. I liked the balance struck by Colin Jost between relating events that resulted in his embarrassment and discussing various rites of passage that we all go through.

Yes, he is the special one in Scarlett Johansson’s life. Yes, he is the head of the comedy writers at Saturday Night Live (SNL). Yes, he is a celebrity in so many dimensions, yet he is (at least on paper) modest and thoughtful while still writing a biography that I have been able to pick up frequently over the last month and find it made me smile within a page or two.

I enjoyed: his sense of family, his commitment to comedy, his work ethic, and the credit he gives to others.

"Standing behind the curtain, about to go out on national TV, was one of the most exhilarating panic attacks I’ve ever had. For the first time ever, I thought, What if I forget everything I was going to say? What if I walk out and just…freeze. What would happen? Would they have to reintroduce me and try it again? Would my career officially end in that one horrible moment? That was honestly all I could think of before I walked out. Then the curtain opened and I let go and didn’t think about a single thing until it was over. It was like I blacked out until Jimmy was shaking my hand and yelling, “Colin Jost, everyone!” Years later, I would have the same nervous feeling before I opened for Dave Chappelle at Radio City (one of the coolest moments of my career). I would feel it the first time I ever did Weekend Update. I would feel it before Che and I hosted the Emmys."

"I had my entire family and all of my friends from high school come to WrestleMania. I’d been on SNL for thirteen years and this was the first time my friends were excited about anything I’d done. It felt like a bachelor party, except I wasn’t engaged yet. Every wrestler we talked to—from Triple H to Titus to surprise guest-star John Cena—told us there was no feeling in the world like walking out to a stadium full of fans who either loved you or hated you. (There was no in-between.) You could tell they were almost jealous that we were about to experience it for the first time."

"I still do about fifty to a hundred shows a year—from theaters around the country to colleges, corporate gigs, casinos, and sometimes just a random show in New York. Stand-up is unlike any other type of performing. You don’t have to rely on anyone other than yourself. It’s you and a microphone and, beyond that, it can go in any direction you take.”

As he approaches age 40, it will be interesting to see where his career goes and whether there is “life after SNL.”

"The other part about leaving SNL is that it means growing up. Because no one who works at SNL is really an adult. It’s certainly not a good place to work while you’re raising a family or nurturing a healthy relationship. In terms of “family-friendly jobs,” SNL ranks somewhere between long-haul truck driver and Somali pirate."

We will know shortly whether Jost follows through and makes this his final season of SNL
Profile Image for ☮Karen.
1,491 reviews9 followers
October 31, 2020
4 stars for the book, 4.5 for Colin Jost's narration.

I'm probably only one of very few people left in my age group still faithfully watching SNL. I still think it's funny, not like the good ole days with Eddie Murphy or Dana Carvey or Tina Fey, but I've gotten more discriminating. I DVR it and speed through the commercials and any of the skits that aren't making me laugh. However I always, always watch the cold open, and of course the Weekend Update with Colin Jost and Michael Che. Those two make a great team. But I never knew much about Jost on his own other than that Scarlett Johansson wanted to marry him (and they did it! Tied the knot a couple days ago.).

From his school days in Staten Island and Harvard to his making it big on SNL, Jost recounts his most memorable antics and foibles. He describes himself as a nerd. He sounds quite intelligent, clever, and even pretty athletic. His reaction to his personal or career achievements seems to be a genuine surprise and appreciation. The chapter on why he loves his mother was very touching.

Like any typical male in his 30s, no topic is off limits, including how often he poops his pants, which really is quite often. His true confessions in the chapter entitled "Okay, So Maybe I've Shit My Pants a Couple Times" were simply hysterical and preceded by a hope that neither his parents nor his fiance ever read those words. He tells some very funny stories, and I do have to admit to laughing out loud many times.

A humble guy who knows his limits, I'd say. But a punchable face? To my aging eyes, he is cute as a button and rather than punch him, I would pinch those chubby cheeks with one hand while messing up his hair with the other. Not punchable -- but very pinchable.

The narration....
Whenever you find a comedian who reads his own words on an audiobook, go for it. It felt at times like Jost was doing standup and much enjoying himself. His enjoyment was my enjoyment. Here, though, it might not be a bad idea to borrow a hard copy as well just for the pictures that are often mentioned. I regret not being able to see them.
Profile Image for Naksed.
2,987 reviews
July 21, 2020
Childhood memories in Staten Island were absolutely hilarious. I mean laughing out loud til hubby and I were crying hilarious. The chapter about his mom (chief medical officer of the FDNY) during 9/11 made us tear up too, but in sadness and admiration for this real life hero. Wow. The young adult stuff from Harvard Lampoon to his early years writing at SNL were interesting, insightful and entertaining. Then, everything about his Weekend Update gig and peripheral anecdotes was dead boring, canned and tedious.

I get it, he still works there so he has to be very careful about not offending co-stars, Lorne or guests. When for example he recalled Kanye West yelling at an old lighting electrician and then quickly adding that Kanye was probably right and he still likes Kanye pffffttttttt... and the chapter about Trump was this super long defensive explanation for SNL inviting him as a host blah blah blah. Okay Colin, are you writing a memoir or writing a press release for the show as its spokesperson.

I don’t read memoirs and autobiographies to read salacious gossip or the authors skewering public figures. What I do expect is honesty, candidness, speaking from the heart, being strong enough to reveal it all, the good, bad and ugly. So that’s why I didn’t like the second half of the book. His sparkling, mischievous personality and refreshing candidness just disappeared. It didn’t feel genuine. There was a sense of constraint and self-censorship. Perhaps he should have waited til after he was done with the show, like David Spade did. An ambivalent 3 star rating because hubby and I did enjoy the first half of it and wished he had kept up the momentum.
Profile Image for Bradley.
Author 6 books3,965 followers
December 1, 2020
Let me be clear: I only knew Colin Jost from a few of his Weekend Updates in SNL and I've only kept up with SNL at all in short spurts since the '90s, so it's kinda surprising that I'd go out of my way to pick up a memoir about THIS guy.

You could say I was strongarmed into it. You could also say that I was enamored by SUCH A GREAT TITLE.

That being said, I still enjoyed myself with the content. During some of his early life stuff, I was positively flabbergasted by how much we had in common. Not the Staten Island stuff, mind you, but the whole Speech and Debate stuff and getting over shyness with speech therapy. Weird, no? But that's where our paths diverge. I never had a shit-my-pants moment. Or, apparently, a long stream of them. :)

I'm a sucker for some good self-depreciation it seems. As a writer for a LOT of SNL, himself, I've got to give him props. Like Tina Fey, and SO MANY other people to come through SNL that we know and love, I hope to see him involved in some cool stuff in the future. :)

Profile Image for Lindsey.
102 reviews1 follower
July 21, 2020
Overall, I’d say the existence of this book is totally unnecessary. Another Harvard-and-Regis-educated white man who’s lead a wildly successful and privileged life writes a memoir while in his mid-thirties. The world does not need this at this juncture in time. Nor does he really have enough interesting content to produce a full length memoir, so the books rather short.

But that being said, Colin Jost is funny. I laughed out loud quite a few times while reading this. And I mean, he’s a good writer — as he should be, since that’s his profession. He does occasionally seem like someone you’d want to punch, but he’s obviously self-aware enough to grasp that. At first I was irritated with the nearly constant name-dropping, but then I realized: he’s not being pretentious, he just only has famous friends due to working at SNL since he was 22.

His Staten Island upbringing was the most interesting (and surprising?) part of the book, with SNL anecdotes as a close second.
Profile Image for Brandon.
902 reviews233 followers
February 24, 2020
A Very Punchable Face is a memoir of sorts from comedian/writer Colin Jost, the current co-anchor on Weekend Update and co-lead writer for Saturday Night Live. Jost presents a series of essays that takes the reader through various points in his life from his early years through to his current position both behind and in front of the camera on Saturday nights.

Jost rarely lets his past self’s behavior slide in the opening chapters. Stories of his years growing up on Staten Island, recurring incidents where he would require stitches and his journey into Harvard were essays filled with laughs from beginning to end. One heartbreaking chapter details his Mother’s position as Chief Medical Officer for the New York Fire Department and her near-death experiences on 9/11. Very powerful stuff inside a book that also speaks of drinking, debauchery and soiling oneself.

I found the most interesting bits to be about the behind-the-scenes structure of SNL and how a machine like that operates. He discusses the hectic Monday-Saturday schedule that involves pitching to the host, writing, re-writing, re-re-writing and planning out the show. We’re talking eighty hour work weeks where the staff will sometimes sleep at the offices at 30 Rock rather than making the trek home after a long night.

Speaking of SNL, one of the first things I was surprised to learn was that Jost has been a part of the crew since 2005. I wasn’t aware he was even involved with the show until they put him in front of the camera in mid-2014 as a part of the Weekend Update team with Cecily Strong. Apparently he was not a fan-favorite, to put it lightly. I had no problem with him from the beginning but I agree with Jost that it likely took him a while to become comfortable in the role. He and co-anchor Michael Che have been mainstays for a few years now and their chemistry continues to make the Update segment the best part of the show each week.

I haven’t read a book in quite a while where I laughed as often as I did with this one. Jost is especially charming in his ability to undercut both his career accomplishments as well as the awkwardness of his youth that gives him a very relatable, earnest quality that should endear him to anyone who picks up this book.
Profile Image for TL .
1,820 reviews35 followers
December 1, 2020
Saw him on Impractical Jokers Dinner Party, seemed like an interesting guy. Mom mentioned she saw him on the Today Show (I think) and mentioned he had a book so I looked him up on audible. Had an extra free credit so figured "why not?"

This was a fun read. I never really watched SNL aside from when someone I liked was on there so I only vaguely knew what he was mentioning but it was still fun to hear about him and his work/home life. He seems like someone I would get along with if we bumped into each other somewhere.

This was one where it felt like you were sitting down with him as he was telling you stories. :)

Not "stomach hurting from laughing so hard" but more like laughing with your best friend over kooky/crazy/good stories if you get my meaning.

Would recommend, I had fun with this one (mostly listened to it while out doordashing)
Profile Image for Cami.
1,322 reviews68 followers
August 28, 2020
I was a Colin Jost fan prior to reading this and this book just cements my opinion of him. He is humorous and does not take himself too serious and I like that in a person.

I’ve read other famous folks memoirs and enjoyed them for the most part but this one is absolutely my favorite so far and that is saying a lot since I am a HUGE Ellen DeGeneres fan.

I cannot tell you how many times I laughed out loud during this book. He seems like someone I could easily be friends with…...He’s relatable, sarcastic (in the best way possible), seems to have a benevolent attitude and just so damn funny!

Worth the read for sure!!
Profile Image for Melissa Long.
104 reviews10 followers
January 24, 2020
You look at Colin Jost and think, "Oh yeah he's the guy engaged to Scarlett Johansson."
Then you think, "Geez, guess that's the most exciting thing to happen to him."

You'd be so, so, so incorrect.

This book is filled with hilarious antedotes, written with honesty, humour, and self awareness. I won't spoil any of the stories, but the deeper you get into this book the more you're wondering how one guy could ever get into so much misfortune, yet so much luck in getting the perfect job.

Jost also takes us inside the modern SNL, and his job of head writer, Weekend News Update, and regular player.

Highly recommend for any SNL fan.
Profile Image for Andrea Pole.
725 reviews116 followers
January 26, 2020
A Very Punchable Face by Colin Jost is a funny, irreverent, and self-deprecating memoir that is every bit as joyful and enlightening as you would hope it to be. I am always wary of reading a memoir penned by a celebrity whose work I admire for fear of being disillusioned by the person behind the celebrity, but my concerns were totally unfounded here.

I have always believed, in a non-creepy fangirl way, that Colin Jost is someone who is not only relatable, but approachable, and the total lack of ego displayed in this collection of essays further affirm this idea. This book is a must read for any SNL fan, as Colin peels back the curtain to reveal some surprising revelations, not only about himself, but about castmates past and present, along with some memorable hosts, during his fifteen year tenure on the show. I heartily recommend giving this one a read.

Many thanks to NetGalley and Crown Publishing for this ARC.
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