Michelle Buteau was born on July 24, 1977 in Hamilton Township, New Jersey, USA. She is an actress and writer, known for Always Be My Maybe (2019), Happiest Season (2020) and Isn’t It Romantic (2019). She has been married to Gijs van der Most since July 31, 2010. They have two children.
If you’ve watched television or movies in the past year, you’ve seen Michelle Buteau. With scene-stealing roles in Always Be My Maybe, First Wives Club, Someone Great, Russian Doll, and Tales of the City; a reality TV show and breakthrough stand-up specials, including her headlining show Welcome to Buteaupia on Netflix, and two podcasts (Late Night Whenever and Adulting), Michelle’s star is on the rise. You’d be forgiven for thinking the road to success—or adulthood or financial stability or self-acceptance or marriage or motherhood—has been easy; but you’d be wrong.
Now, in Survival of the Thickest, Michelle reflects on growing up Caribbean, Catholic, and thick in New Jersey, going to college in Miami (where everyone smells like pineapple), her many friendship and dating disasters, working as a newsroom editor during 9/11, getting started in standup opening for male strippers, marrying into her husband’s Dutch family, IVF and surrogacy, motherhood, chosen family, and what it feels like to have a full heart, tight jeans, and stardom finally in her grasp.
Thank you to Libro.fm for the advanced listening copy of this book in exchange for my review.
Thoughts and Themes: This review is a little different from my others because this book is different from what I usually read. For non-fiction books there really is no commenting on characters because there is none especially in a memoir. I love every memoir by a comedian that I have read to this date because they have the humor in each portion of their memoir, even in the moments that are meant to be sad.
I love how this book is separated into different essays that talk about different portions and aspects of Michelle’s life. I really enjoy reading memoirs from comedians when I don’t know them because the memoir tends to make me want to watch their acts. I only got through two of the essays and am already loving it and can’t wait to listen to the whole thing. I’m so interested in hearing more of this book and learning more about her through this book.
There are so many moments that I was just laughing or having to pause because my mom walked past and there was some inappropriate language. I don’t mind that but I don’t want my mom to question my reading choices, lol. I want to comment on each essay that is included in this book but then this review would go on forever.
I love that Michelle talks about the real things and doesn’t sugar coat anything. I really like her essay “Survival of the Thickest ” and its commentary on what we tell Big girls. I liked how she talks about what it is like to have a larger body as a child and how she was treated. She doesn’t go easy on this topic and she lays out her feelings right on those pages. I love how she talks about the shops that make her feel like worthy. I could go on and on on the relatability of this chapter.
There are so many other essays in this book that I really enjoy, I really liked the commentary that she made on the Catholic church. I related so much to this and loved what her stance was and how she kept her friends a part of the whole ceremony even if her family would’ve preferred otherwise.
Something that I think people may have issues with is that she brings her humor to even the hardest moments of her life. I think when reading you need to understand that this is the way she is comfortable with sharing this very intimate parts of herself with you as the reader. I was very appreciative of the fact that she was willing to share these moments with us.
GoodReads Summary: In 2016 comedian Mike Birbiglia and poet Jennifer Hope Stein took their fourteen-month-old daughter Oona to the Nantucket Film Festival. When the festival director picked them up at the airport she asked Mike if he would perform at the storytelling night. She said, “The theme of the stories is jealousy.”
Jen quipped, “You’re jealous of Oona. You should talk about that.”
And so Mike began sharing some of his darkest and funniest thoughts about the decision to have a child. Jen and Mike revealed to each other their sides of what had gone down during Jen’s pregnancy and that first year with their child. Over the next couple years, these stories evolved into a Broadway show, and the more Mike performed it the more he heard how it resonated — not just with parents but also people who resist all kinds of change. So he pored over his journals, dug deeper, and created this book: The New One: Painfully True Stories From a Reluctant Dad. Along with hilarious and poignant stories he has never shared before, these pages are sprinkled with poetry Jen wrote as she navigated the same rocky shores of new parenthood.
So here it is. This book is an experiment — sort of like a family
Thoughts: Thank you to Grand Central Publishing for the advanced copy of this book in exchange for my review.
As someone who fears having kids i found Birbiglia’s thoughts prior to having a kid relatable. I thought it was great to see his perspective before and after his kid and how even during that first year of his kids life he was still iffy about having a kid. This book was cute, light and fluffy which I read enjoyed during this time.
I also enjoyed how Birbiglia had his wife’s poetry included throughout the book. We got to see her perspective through these poems and the contrast of her feelings and his. I loved getting to see not just the contrast but also the similarities in their feelings.
The writing style really made this book easy to get through and hard to put down. Its multiple essay pieces with poetry in between and is separated into different parts of Birbiglia’s life. I liked that it was in somewhat chronological order and it was written with before baby and then after baby. While it is chronological I also like that its separated by theme as well.
I recommend this to those of you who enjoy comedy or who enjoy memoirs. I think this book very much reads like multiple comedy acts while giving you slices of Birbiglia’s life. I also think that those of you who are fans of Birbiglia would really enjoy getting to read this book.