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VINE VOICEon January 5, 2012
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
"I Know I Am, But What Are You?" is an intermittently comic, hopefully exaggerated memoir of Sam Bee's childhood and young adulthood. The blurb on the back cover promises "candid, outspoken, laugh-out-loud funny essays," and while they are certainly candid and outspoken, I never laughed out loud. In fact, I found the in-your-face sexuality and crudeness in many of the essays rather icky and sad. The overall effect was the one you might have when an acquaintance decides to overshare: too much information, thank you!

You might need a stronger stomach or a different sense of humor than I have to really enjoy this book. I could see the absurdity in Bee's recollections (her crush on Jesus, for instance, or her work at what she calls a "penis clinic"), but her graphic descriptions of strangers' genitals and her pets' sexual aggressiveness and her much older lover's poop problems all grossed me out, and the story of how a friend's stripper boyfriend "entertained" her was squirm-inducing.

Especially grim are her memories of the desperately poor parenting she received from her mother. The woman attempted to enlighten her daughter by giving her sex manuals and showing her porn and letting her gay friends regale her with tales of fisting, autoerotic asphyxiation, and other things one should not share with an eight-year-old. This goes a long way toward explaining how neurotic and caustic Bee became as she grew up and why she found refuge and healing in comedy.

If you enjoy Bee's work on the Daily Show and would like to learn more about her personal background, this book will fill you in. Indeed, it may well tell you more than you'd like to know. She was a victim of emotional abuse by people who exposed her to vulgarity of the worst kind, left her to her own devices most of the time, and gave her endless opportunities for weirdness, misadventure, and overdoses of pop culture.

Congratulations, Sam. You survived your youth, prospered as an adult, and extracted comedy from catastrophe. But reading about it was often an uncomfortable experience.
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Any time a comedian writes about their life there's a "through the looking glass" tendency to question how much of it is truth and how much is played strictly for comic effect. As a regular contributor to "The Daily Show" Samantha Bee has shown herself to be one of the sharpest wits on television and a master at deftly skewering an array of idiots, gasbags, blowhards, and freaks. What will shock and surprise readers the most is not only Bee's sharp sense of humor and wit, but her laying bare her past in shocking details. "I Know I Am" is by turns not only hilariously funny yet also thought provoking as you read all the drama that Bee has gone through in her life. Like any good comic Bee finds the humor and laughs in her past and plays it to comic effect. Ostensibly a series of essays on various aspects of her life, "I Know I Am" holds together well as a biography of sorts and also as musings on the absurdities of a misspent life doing an array of crazy things. That she wound up on "The Daily Show" is nothing short of surprising, given the strange things she's done in her life, all told in a voice that is distinctively hers. If you've enjoyed Samantha Bee on "The Daily Show" and want to know more about what makes her tick then you'll definitely enjoy "I Know I Am"! But there remains an otherworldly strangeness to the book that makes you wonder if its all true or invented; such is the nature of Bee's humor.
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on June 20, 2010
The key to Samantha Bee's humor is in her contradictions - she plays a repressed person who is outrageous. And unlike many comics whose work is hilarious on TV, she can actually write funny stories that are worth reading. This memoir of exaggerated tales of her childhood, adolescence and early adulthood probes the frustrations, hurts and stupidities of growing up human on planet Earth. Her strongest material is the least self-conscious. Bee's portrayal of herself as an ugly, awkward, indoorsy bookworm and TV watcher is both affecting, worrying and probably close to the truth. Her adolescent years, in which she made dangerous visits to older men, are scary and true-sounding, echoing the way that naïve youngsters find their way in the tricky and perilous word of the sexually savvy. Bee hit a few sour notes in her diatribe against May-December relationships. Her comments about the problems of older people crossed from wickedly insightful to needlessly mean. She redeemed herself with tales of her hunky college roommate, simultaneously irresistible physically and repulsive mentally.

"I Know I am" is a quick read -- I devoured it over a weekend, which is superfast for me. While Bee doesn't have the depth, insight and subtlety of a David Sedaris, the book was a fun read. It didn't achieve Sedaris's laugh-out-loud funniness, or oh-my-god appallingness. But it was a nice autobiography of tarted up truths about growing up in the Western world.
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on August 10, 2013
I wanted to read this book because I love the Daily Show and I think Samantha Bee is hilarious. So when I saw that she had published an autobiography, I said heck yes to some light reading on a five-hour flight.

This book really wasn't all I thought it would be. There really is nothing about the Daily Show except for a short acknowledgment at the end, and much of the book is about how dysfunctional her parents and family are. I was surprised and maybe even a little disappointed in learning about her teenage crime spree. Parts of the book were quite funny, but most just seemed like a "you had to be there to get it" thing.

So... I still like Samantha Bee and will still enjoy watching her segments on The Daily Show, but not really thrilled with this book.
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on July 29, 2013
Know those women who claim they and their friends are just like "Sex and the City"? Me neither.

This book made me realize my and friend's colorful life journeys are not that crazy. And, laughing about these stories doesn't mean we are too twisted.

I have laughed with "I Know I Am". I laughed until I had tears and then I gift ordered this book for my almost-daughter-in-law.

I've always enjoyed and appreciated Samantha Bee on the Daily Show and with this book I appreciate her even more.
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on September 14, 2012
At the same time painful and engrossing, Sam B paints a traumatic childhood of (for?) herself that will have you tampering your laughs with winces. While, I can only hope, she has overstated some terrible situations in her life, it makes some darn good comedy that made a few people wonder why I was chuckling to myself. If your sense of humor isn't dark enough that you wouldn't laugh at a story about being sexually assaulted by a cat or trying to commit suicide with pine sol and laxatives, then this book is not for you.
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on February 21, 2012
I wish I could come up with a review that is funny and interesting enough to capture how I feel about this book. But I can't. I laughed out loud, sometimes with tears running down my face. (Although I have to admit that I wasn't quite sure why I was howling with laughter, I just knew I couldn't help it.) My husband steadfastly ignored me, but my 4 year old wouldn't stop asking what was so funny until I told him. I didn't want to explain because 1) it would almost certainly be inappropriate and difficult for him to understand and 2) it would kill it for me. But my paraphrasing skills are apparently better than I expected. He thought it was hilarious that a kid would give her Dad coal for Christmas just for giggles. But I didn't want to push my luck, so I had to choke back my laughter. Anyway, Sam Bee's book is just like her work on The Daily Show. She cracks me up, but I know eventually somebody's going to look like a jerk. But in her book, she makes herself into the jerk. Pretty much the story of my life. Enjoy.
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on December 8, 2011
This is the funniest book I have ever read, I like it so much that I didn't banish it to my Kindle archives when I finished it the way I have every other book I've read, but kept it around to read bookmarked passages from time to time. I loved hearing about Samantha's life and, although I don't understand why she married Jason Jones (my least favorite correspondent on "The Daily Show"). okay, I can deal with that. The book is full of strange and fun memories and Sam's own unique view of life. I recommend it and her website ("Eating Over the Sink") very highly.
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on November 13, 2014
I listened to this book in my car, and laughed out loud. I will add that the first chapter or so of this book did not lead me to believe I would be laughing anytime soon. I was wrong. It was funny, and I suspect Samantha Bee's narration probably made it even funnier than it would have been in print. One day when I've sort of forgotten about it, I'll buy it on Audible instead of getting from the library. That is saying something.
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on August 22, 2011
I had a hard time connecting to this book, because some of the stories were so crazy I could not tell if they were ultra exaggerated or if they were rooted in truth. When the stories were more obviously authentic, it was jarring. I did laugh out loud in a couple of places. I am happy I read it, but I prefer David Sedaris or Laurie Notaro.
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