Book Review / Lizz Free or Die: Essays
Lizz Winstead

Lizz Winstead is responsible for creating “The Daily Show” and for setting the progressive tone of the now defunct Air America, platforms that—bless her!—brought both Jon Stewart and Rachel Maddow into the national spotlight. With her new book of personal essays, Winstead will now undoubtedly be responsible for inspiring scores of creative and opinionated young women. Her first collection chronicles the events and people that shaped who she is today, taking us through her strict Catholic upbringing to the recent death of her father (whose last earthly act was playing a hilarious prank on his children). In between, we meet scary fake abortionists, an especially terrible blind date, and Prince, Bill Hicks, and Roseanne Barr before they all hit it big. There are several gaps in her stories that I would’ve wanted to hear more about—she declines to discuss why she left “The Daily Show” as the show switched hosts—but the writing is breezy and the stories are as poignant as they are funny. What really struck me, though, was the sexism Winstead faces throughout. As a child, a priest infuriates her when he tells her she can’t be an altar-boy; as a young stand-up comic, she’s equally infuriated by her crowds’ apathetic reactions to her political material and their sudden disinterest in her observational humor when her set-ups go from “Ever notice…” to the more authoritative “I think that…” Ambitious women everywhere will be able to relate to Winstead’s struggles and, hopefully, take comfort in her success.

Labell, Molly. "Lizz Free or Die: Essays." BUST Magazine June 2012: 77-78. Print