Misfit: Growing Up Awkward in the '80s
“One of my favorite books of all time.” ―Amy Schumer
A tour de force of comedy and reflection about the perilous journey from kindergarten to twelfth grade and beyond―from the beloved stand-up comic and creator of The Great Depresh
For years, Gary Gulman had been the comedian’s comedian, acclaimed for his delight in language and his bracing honesty. But after two stints in a psych ward, he found himself back in his mother’s house in Boston—living in his childhood bedroom at age forty-six, as he struggled to regain his mental health.
That’s where Misfit begins. Then it goes way back.
This is no ordinary book about growing older and growing up. Gulman has an astonishing memory and takes the reader through every year of his childhood education, with obsessively detailed stories that are in turn alarming and riotously funny. We meet Gulman’s family, neighbors, teachers, heroes, and antagonists, and get to know the young comedian-in-the-making who is his own worst―and most persistent―enemy.
From failing to impress at grade school show-and-tell to literally fumbling at his first big football game―in settings that take us all the way from the local playground to the local mall, from Hebrew School to his best (and only) friend’s rec room, young Gary becomes a stand-in for everyone who grew up wondering if they would ever truly fit in. And that’s not all: the book is also chock-full of ‘80s nostalgia (Scented Markers, indifference to sunscreen, mall culture).
Misfit is a book that only Gary Gulman could have written: a brilliant, witty, poignant, laugh-until-your-face-hurts memoir that speaks directly to the awkward child in us all.
Praise for Misfit: Growing Up Awkward in the '80s
Praise for Misfit
"The comic who laid bare his depression struggles in HBO's The Great Depresh returns with a poignant, hilarious memoir." ―People
"Gary is thoughtful and funny in a way few others are." ―Seth Meyers
"Having also grown up in the 80’s, Misfit is the book I definitely would have written if I was a brilliant, depressed, honest, deranged, master wordsmith/storyteller like Gary Gulman." ―Judd Apatow
“This is a very special book―an exquisite, love-affirming, generous book. It is also a portrait of an extraordinary American artist as a boy, using the tools of his trade to become a peace-loving, honest man. That the American art he practices is standup comedy gives us a rare glimpse into the ideals of democracy, because Misfit invites us to see how originality survives hierarchy. I found it galvanizing.” ―Adrian Nicole LeBlanc, New York Times bestselling author of Random Family
"In this book, Gary Gulman retells a story that’s one of my favorites we’ve put on This American Life - about how a soft, football-hating kid like him ended up playing the sport – and tells lots of other stories too. One thing I especially love in here is his astonishing recall of the jokes he and others told through his childhood; he really was a little boy destined to become a comic." ―Ira Glass, host of This American Life
“Gary Gulman’s Misfit is one of my favorite books of all time and you will feel the same. Laugh out loud funny and heartfelt.” ―Amy Schumer
"Funny and poignant, this will satisfy adrift adults looking to reconnect with their inner child." ―Publishers Weekly
"A good-natured, hilarious memoir from a gifted comedian." ―Kirkus
"Gulman's stories are shared with humor but also a heartfelt empathy for his young self and many of the people in his life.... A must-read. for Gulman's comedy fans and fans of Sure I'll Join Your Cult, by Maria Bamford (2023) or The Hilarious World of Depression, by John Moe (2020)." ―Booklist
"[A] gem of a book.... The characters of Gulman’s youth, from his unusual parents to the teachers and coaches who denote the best and worst of the profession, and the bullies and classmates who both tormented and inspired him, come alive with such exactitude that they leap from the pages and inspire emotional reactions." ―Library Journal, starred review