This Will Be Funny Someday

Book review by
Andrea Beach, Common Sense Media
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Engaging, funny tale of teen stand-up comic hits big issues.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Briefly explains without medical or scientific detail an auditory processing condition that makes it difficult or impossible to hear individual voices in loud places. Shows some examples of working around it. Shows concrete, specific examples of controlling and abusive behavior, including gaslighting (trying to change the victim's perception of themselves and of how events ocurred).

Positive Messages

Whether or not you like your real, true self is more important than whether others like the version of you they see. You deserve to be seen and heard for yourself and what you have to say, if you want to be. Letting people into your life and know the real you can teach you things about yourself. Humor and laughter can be freeing; they open people up and bring hope.

Positive Role Models

Narrator Isabel, 16, is not a good role model to start. She lies to her family, friends, and boyfriend. She sneaks into nightclubs, although it's to perform stand-up comedy and she doesn't drink alcohol. She chooses the path of least resistance. But she learns from her mistakes and ultimately becomes brave enough to do what's right, and to stand up and be heard. Isabel is White and financially priviledged. Her new circle of friends are racially diverse with positive representations of Black, Asian, Persian, and LGBTQ+ identities, and they talk to Isabel about race, stereotypes, and priviledge. The villain is controlling, manipulative, quick to anger, and likes making Isabel afraid of him.

Violence

A past incident is revealed when Isabel's boyfriend physically intimidated her and made her afraid he was going to push her off a platform. He also throws and breaks things when he's angry, he pushes Isabel up against walls. An adult who doesn't know Isabel is a minor makes unwanted sexual advances and implies he'll help her in exchange for sexual acts. Some examples of sexual verbal assault many women experience like whistling and vulgar propositions. A heckler says, "Show us your t-ts."

Sex

A few kisses and making out described emotionally without mentioning sensitive body parts. Porn and "blowjob" referred to.

Language

Frequent strong language, incudes "d--k," "s--t," "f--k," "t-ts," "bulls--t," "whore," and "Jesus" as an exclamation.

Consumerism

Incidental mention of brand-name foods, beverages, and other products.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

College juniors in their early 20s drink vodka and whiskey in a dorm room and sneak into clubs and drink alcohol. Past excessive drinking on a 21st birthday mentioned. Fake IDs mentionied. A teen unknowingly eats a marijuana gummy. A joke about getting into meth. Mention that someone sells "crappy dime bags." Smoking is not directly narrated, but there's mention of hair smelling of smoke from a friend's cigarette.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that This Will Be Funny Someday is a coming-of-age novel about how Isabel, 16, finds her voice and inner strength through stand-up comedy. She's in an abusive relationship with her boyfriend Alex, who's controlling, manipulative, quick to anger, and enjoys making Isabel feel afraid. A past traumatic incident is revealed in which Alex intimidated Isabel physically, backing her to the edge of a platform knowing she's afraid of heights. The only other physical violence is Alex throwing and breaking things, and backing Isabel up against walls. A few instances of verbal sexual assault are discussed and incorporated into a stand-up routine. Sexual content is light, with a few make-out sessions that describe emotions and don't mention sensitive body parts. Strong language includes "d--k," "f--k," "s--t," and "t-ts." A friend of Isbel's identifies as gay and is in a postivie representation of a same-sex relationship. College juniors, some underage, drink in a dorm room and sneak into clubs and drink in them. Isabel sneaks into clubs too but doesn't drink alcohol. Once Isabel accidentally eats a marijuana gummy. She displays paranoid behavior, but there's a safe resolution. The smell of cigarette smoke in hair is mentioned, implying one of her friends smokes, but it's never directly mentioned. 

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What's the story?

THIS WILL BE FUNNY SOMEDAY tells the story of 16-year-old Isabel, the quiet one. It's not that she doesn't have anything to say, it's more that she feels she can't get a word in edgewise. Not with her outgoing, always talking over each other family, and certainly not with her controlling, quick-tempered boyfriend Alex, who's always making Isabel doubt herself. One afternoon she stumbles into an open-mic stand-up event thinking the club was a restaurant, and before she can overthink it, she finds herself onstage and finally has a chance to be, do, and say whatever she wants. Isabel finds this freedom exhilarating, but to keep doing it she has to build a web of lies. She becomes more and more entangled in the lies even as the web starts unraveling around her, but she's also finding her voice and learning that she has the inner strength to make that voice heard.

Is it any good?

This absorbing and funny story that, amid all the witty banter and comedy routines, manages to explore some serious issues in depth, realistically, and with sensitivity. Through Isabel's experience,This Will Be Funny Someday takes on emotional and psychological abuse, beauty myths, sexism, harrassment, stereotyping, privilege, friendship, truth, and honesty. It takes all these topics and more seriously without being heavy-handed about any of them. A lot of the action takes place in the unusual and intriguing world of stand-up comedy, and readers will gain an appreciation for how hard it is, and how much hard work goes into it.

Sometimes it's frustrating to see Isabel make the same mistake again, even when she knows it's a mistake, and there are some minor inconsistencies in the characters and plot, especially some things that get glossed over or dropped for too long. But she's easy to root for, and teens will relate to her frustrations waiting for life to start and finding a world where she belongs. Hopefully it will also encourage them to keep looking for their own voices, and the courage to make them heard. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the strong language in This Will Be Funny Someday. How much is too much? Is it realistic? Is reading it different from hearing it in movies, videos, games, and other media?

  • Isabel's friends from the stand-up scene are a diverse group. Why is diversity important in the media? Do you learn from characters who are different from you? Do you like it when you read about people like you, or see them on the screen?

  • Do you know someone like Alex, or have you been in a relationship with someone like him? Do you know someone who has? What happened? How can you help someone in Isabel's position, or where can you get help for yourself?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love humor and coming-of-age stories

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