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Lizz Free or Die: Essays [Kindle Edition]

Lizz Winstead
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (82 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $16.00
Kindle Price: $10.99
You Save: $5.01 (31%)
Sold by: Penguin Group (USA) LLC

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Book Description

Lizz Winstead, co-creator of The Daily Show and one of today's most hilarious comedians and insightful social critics, pens a brilliant account of how she discovered her comedic voice.

In this collection of autobiographical essays, Winstead vividly recounts how she fought to find her own voice, both as a comedian and as a woman, and how humor became her most powerful weapon in confronting life's challenges.

Growing up in the Midwest, the youngest child of conservative Catholic parents, Winstead learned early in her life that the straightforward questions she posed to various authority figures around her-her parents, her parish priest, even an anti-abortion counselor -prompted many startled looks and uncomfortable silences, but few answers. Her questions rattled people because they exposed the inconsistencies and hypocrisies in the people and institutions she confronted. Yet she didn't let that stop her from pursuing her dreams.

Funny and biting, honest and poignant, this no-holds-barred collection gives an in-depth look into the life of one of today's most influential comic voices. In writing about her childhood longing to be a priest, her role in developing The Daily Show, and of her often problematic habit of diving into everything head first, asking questions later (resulting in multiple rescue-dog adoptions and travel disasters), Lizz Winstead has tapped an outrageous and heartfelt vein of the all-too-human comedy.

Editorial Reviews


“Sharply witty and iconoclastic.”—Elle

“Searching and lively … and moving. … Ms. Winstead writes with a feel for the sound of words.” – The New York Times

“Engaging…Winstead proves that she’s got a writer’s touch.”—Minneapolis Star Tribune 

 “Charming… with insight and understated humor.”—Mother Jones

“A sometimes-hilarious look at a woman who often plunged into life without much forethought but kept on going.”—St. Paul Pioneer Press

Lizz Winstead is a sharp-witted truth-teller, and Lizz Free or Die will inspire anyone who has ever talked back to the television or wished they could come up with satire as insightful as The Daily Show. It’s also a book about family, friendship and a zest for comedy that transcends political differences. In good times and bad, Winstead found her way by going toward the light and the laughter.”—Ms. Magazine

“Lizz Winstead is down-to-earth and wonderful and nice…read her book. You’ll start to think the same thing.”—Bust Magazine 

“[An] indelible, hilarious, often poignant romp.”—American Way

“Political satirist and stand-up comedian Winstead… [is] shrewdly observant, linguistically adept, bravely soul-baring, and caustically smart.”—Booklist

“Funny, thoughtful… recommended.”—Library Journal

“Intelligent and witty…with honesty and humor.”—Publishers Weekly

“With this book, Lizz Winstead takes us on a hilarious, honest, moving and insightful journey. It is the journey of a funny, fearless woman as she finds her voice and shares it with the world.”—Arianna Huffington

“Reading Lizz Winstead's hilarious collection of very personal essays somehow leaves you changed.  You laugh, and yet there are nutrients in her words.”—Sarah Silverman

“Lizz Winstead has written a fantastically readable collection. I really did laugh, and then, I really did cry.  Most important, though, I found someone I can leave my dogs with, should I have to flee the country.” – Julie Klam

"Lizz Free or Die is brilliantly funny and razor sharp. Lizz Winstead observes our times with candor, hope and a gimlet eye. She is a national treasure."-- Adriana Trigiani

"Reading Winstead is like hanging out with Winstead: invigorating, infuriating, and hilarious." -- Patton Oswald

About the Author

Lizz Winstead is co-creator and former head writer of The Daily Show and one of the founders of Air America Radio. A performer and stand-up comedian, she frequently appears on MSNBC, CNN, and Comedy Central. She lives in Brooklyn. Learn more at or follow her on twitter @lizzwinstead.

Product Details

  • File Size: 826 KB
  • Print Length: 333 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1594631425
  • Publisher: Riverhead Books; Reprint edition (May 10, 2012)
  • Sold by: Penguin Group (USA) LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0072O018I
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #460,516 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Lizz Leaves Too Much Out July 31, 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I first heard of Lizz Winstead when she joined forces with Al Franken on Air America, a radio station harder to find than the Fountain of Youth. Those were the days Franken was duking it out with Bill O'Reilly and writing books with titles like RUSH LIMBAUGH IS A BIG FAT IDIOT, so I would have listened if I could've found it.

Then I heard she was the co-creator of "The Daily Show". Yes, that's the Jon Stewart "Daily Show." I've never actually seen Lizz Winstead on television, which is strange since I watch her protégé Rachel Maddow from time to time.

Anyway, LIZZ FREE OR DIE is a book of essays, held together by her progressive personality. We Minnesotans get a good look at the music scene as it first began to explode as Lizz and her friends go dancing at The First Edition frequented by Prince and Soul Asylum. It was there a friend recommended that she try stand-up comedy. This was when Minneapolis was one of the havens for new comedians, led by Scott Hansen and including Louie Anderson. Even Roseanne Barr and Tom Arnold get a mention. Lizz eventually gets a job as the MC at First Edition.

There are times when the book skips over some possibly absorbing information. Lizz's hockey boyfriend gets her pregnant and she sees a sign offering help to wayward girls. The place sounded like the Texas House of Representatives; they put heavy pressure on her to have the baby, but Lizz never mentions the name of the place. It sounds a whole lot like Birthright. Considering the hammering Planned Parenthood is taking lately, one would think she would have jumped at the chance. Then the essay just stops; we can guess that she had an abortion but she never says where, tells us how she felt about it or anything. She just leaves it out.
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14 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Funny. Real. Loved. May 11, 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Fantastic insight into a smart hilarious woman. If you are a fan of Lizz Winstead, you will be able to hear her voice through the pages. If you are not already a fan, you will fall in love with her through this collection of "messays" about her career and family life. Of course it's funny but it is also poignant and quite honest. I love this book.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved this book May 11, 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Just finished reading this book. Since I'm a senior who was brought up Catholic,
I really related to the parts about religion and family. The rest of the book wasn't too shabby either.
A really fun read!
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12 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Smart, funny, and inspiring May 11, 2012
By Bookbin
What's there to really say? It's as smart and funny as one would expect from the co-creator of The Daily Show, one of the founders of Air America, and the person who plucked Rachel Maddow out of obscurity. And yet, what really makes this book great is that it's about family and communion, and about the struggles we all face every day of our lives.

I couldn't recommend this more highly! Buy this book!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Read/Listen, It's Great! December 3, 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Like Rachel Maddow and Jon Steward? Read/listen to Lizz Free or Die to find out how they all relate.

I remember seeing Lizz on Rachel's show and on Melissa Harris-Perry when she was promoting her book. But I remember seeing her stand up for feminism and abortion and rights for everyone. I loved her point of view. I couldn't wait to read her book. Sadly, now I am finished. I hope she decides to write more. It was fun, bittersweet, sad, maddening, and back around to laugh out loud. Um, not so great to read when your partner is asleep next to you. The LOL moments got me in trouble a few times.

This book is written in essays. Sort of in chronological order, but not. I like that it strays as her mind does which fits perfectly with mine. I wish I would have had a book like this as I was a teen or early twenties. Following her own path made her the strong wonderful person she is today.

Try it! I loved it!
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read May 18, 2012
I loved this book.

I started following Lizz on Twitter after her father died and when she was hiding out at her sister's house in Minneapolis (my home town) trying to finish this book but instead spending too much time entertaining the twitterverse with her smartalecky, entertaining tweets (Follow her: @LizzWinstead - she's never dull). Occasionally she'd tweet "What I'm writing" and tease us with tidbits from the book. So I've been looking forward to the book since that time, setting myself up for the distinct possibility of disappointment.

But rather than being disappointed, I was thoroughly delighted with the book. Lizz gives the reader an always-entertaining, rich, multi-textured feel for where she came from and how she developed as a human and as a professional. In spite of the fact that she has made her living for multiple decades now in elite show business circles from coast to coast, her description of her maturing process on the job is completely relatable to those of us who have risen through the ranks in more mundane career fields.

In doing this, Lizz describes the gestation and birth of The Daily Show and Air America, providing the reader with insider peeks at some very interesting behind-the-scenes developments and providing further insight into where some of our current media stars came from.

Her emotional highs and lows take the reader along for fun, and sometimes tragically sad stories that even in the most heart wrenching of times are always punctuated with Lizz's special brand of humor and self criticism.

Highly recommended. Buy it. Read it. You'll love it. But don't read it in a library or church because you'll have to stifle your out-loud laughter.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars You must read this book!
A smart, funny, insightful book written by the female equal of Jon Stewart.
Published 2 months ago by P. Pontzer
5.0 out of 5 stars Love the
Hilarious and entertaining. Love the Lizz
Published 4 months ago by Amazon Customer
2.0 out of 5 stars better books. It's boring and not that funny
I am actually still reading this while not reading other, better books. It's boring and not that funny.
Published 5 months ago by Lora L Berendsen
4.0 out of 5 stars He's funny. Interesting to hear how a tv comedy writer ...
He's funny. Interesting to hear how a tv comedy writer started out.
Published 6 months ago by Sally
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent read. Thank you
Arrived on time as advertised. Excellent read. Thank you!
Published 7 months ago by Linda Gail Deming
5.0 out of 5 stars Comic genius
Funny read...every page is hilarious.
Published 8 months ago by Peter Holub
5.0 out of 5 stars what an amazing and beautiful woman... thank you lizz
it made me giggle, laugh out loud, occasionally snort... it transported me back in time to my own childhood... and brought me forward again with tears and finally hope... Read more
Published 12 months ago by Sophie Leonarda di Campalto
5.0 out of 5 stars Lizz Free or Die
A great for anyone who questions events that occur in life. Laugh out loud funny, too. Thoughful look into her personal and public life.
Published 12 months ago by marcia luhn
5.0 out of 5 stars Love it
Easy to read. Laugh out loud. Reminds me to feel good about all the little things in life, to laugh and learn from mistakes. Solid read for anyone.
Published 13 months ago by Elizabeth Tuite
5.0 out of 5 stars Lizz Free or Die:
This book had me laughing during most of my reading of it. She is a terrific writer. So glad I could purchase it on Amazon.
Published 14 months ago by MAVDAP
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