Writing a memoir seems like a strange thing to do for a 38-year-old who has really only been in the spotlight for the past six years, hasn’t made any major headlines and still isn’t necessarily what I would consider a household name. But once you’ve read “A Very Punchable Face: A Memoir,” you’ll understand that much of Colin Jost’s life has been on the strange side, so a memoir fits right in with everything else.
The book, which is more of a collection of short, disjointed essays than a memoir, reads much like an episode of the show that made Jost a star, “Saturday Night Live.” There are some laugh-out-loud moments, like his trip to Europe with Seth Meyers where he did something stupid and ended up getting seriously hurt. There are some mildly humorous moments, like his trip to Google that also ended in him getting hurt. Then there are some absolutely surreal moments like the chapter focused on all the times he relieved himself in his pants. And then there are the totally unnecessary moments, like the chapter devoted to the time a botfly laid its eggs inside his leg — an image I still haven’t been able to shake. Jost has a great, casual writing style, but much like the “SNL” skits he’s written over the years, many of his stories go just a touch too far.
There are some interesting behind-the-scenes stories like how he got hired as an “SNL” writer, how he became head writer and the wild ways he nearly lost the “Weekend Update” anchor job twice. There’s also a great chapter about Jost and his “Update” co-anchor Michael Che participating in “WrestleMania.” But if you’re looking for some juicy dirt about co-stars or hosts, you’re going to be disappointed. There is a chapter devoted to then-presidential candidate Donald Trump hosting in 2015, but even it doesn’t share much of interest. And there are only small references to Jost’s fiancé, actress Scarlett Johansson, with no mention of how they began dating or became engaged. I can respect wanting to keep some things private, but when you title a book a memoir, you’re suggesting that you’re going to share major parts of your life, so it’s a disappointment when you don’t.
If you’re a big fan of Jost, you’ll enjoy “Face.” If you have just a passing interest and are only looking for some interesting tidbits, save your time by Googling for book highlights. But if you decide to read the book, do yourself a favor and skip the chapter about the botfly eggs. You’ll thank me later.
“A Very Punchable Face: A Memoir” is available now wherever books are sold.