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I Know I Am, But What Are You? Paperback – February 8, 2011

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A senior correspondent for The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, the Toronto-born comedian pokes fun at herself in a witty collection of personal essays. Recalling her upbringing, she lightheartedly and hysterically skewers her parents, stepparents, grandparents, and even the nuns who taught her math, half of whom "looked and smelled like the rejection of life itself." Bee's stepmother took camping "very seriously," and preparing for a trip was "like preparing for the End of Days;" her father, claiming to be thinking up strategies for better fuel efficiency, was really "just reading Penthouse on the toilet." Regarding the nuns at her Catholic school, Bee doesn't hold back: "You could see that they had all their lady parts, but you just knew that once a month they menstruated dust." Bee takes readers from childhood to adolescence and beyond, reminiscing along the way about her first boyfriend, comparing their sexual chemistry to that of a "sea cucumber that sits motionless on the cold, dark ocean floor and dreams of dry-humping a nearby scallop." Bee successfully brings her witty, self-deprecating, slightly cynical, and semi-scathing world view from screen to page.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Audible Audio Edition edition.

About the Author

Samantha Bee lives with her husband, also former Daily Show correspondent Jason Jones, and their children in New York City.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Gallery Books (February 8, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1439142742
  • ISBN-13: 978-1439142745
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.7 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (104 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #174,726 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Thomas E. Davis on 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.
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Format: Hardcover
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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Format: Hardcover
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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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
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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