Rolling with the Punchlines by Urzila Carlson


Title: Rolling with the Punchlines: A Memoir
Author: Urzila Carlson
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Humour, Memoirs
Dates read: 1st – 2nd January 2021
Pace: Medium
Format: Novel
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Year: 2019
5th sentence, 74th page: Now I’m conscious that anyone who was grateful for my explanation of the concept of the fax will be hanging out for me to explain this little word ‘apartheid’.


Chuckle, laugh and snigger along with Urzila in this fascinating memoir of a life in comedy.

Updated with new chapters and written with her trademark deadpan humour, Urzila’s memoir is full of ripping yarns about both the big and the little things in life.

Urzila’s accidental beginning in stand-up has led to an incredibly successful career in comedy, with regular gigs on Channel 10’s Have You Been Paying Attention? in Australia and 7 Days in New Zealand, as well as sell-out shows across both countries, appearances at international festivals and a Netflix special.

But life hasn’t always been a bundle of laughs. Urzila talks candidly about her childhood within a happy family – apart from her abusive dad – and about growing up in South Africa. She shares crazy but true tales about her travels, her move down under, coming out, getting married and having children, and cracking Australia.


This was a memoir that had me laughing out loud again and again. Carlson was able to deal with issues that are incredibly intense and serious in moments with a great look of humour and lightness. There is something about her style of writing that made you feel like she was right there, recounting all of her incredible adventures into your ear. And, since I love the accent… I loved that whole idea.

I found Carlson’s journey into stand-up to be incredibly fascinating. She somehow managed to fall into a career that is completely suited to her and her personality. And found herself a life and reality that she absolutely adores. The fact that throughout this memoir she also shamelessly plugs her Netflix special and tells tales of the different shows that she’s done. Not only did it make for an intriguing and fascinating career-journey, but again, I was laughing and giggling throughout all of her many tales.

Carlson’s journey and tales are wonderful and unforgettable. There is nothing like a good memoir to start of the year’s reading. When that history and memoir has as much humour to it as this story, well, it just keeps getting better and better. That, and the fact that I found out a lot more about a woman I’ve been watching on tv for a while. And very much enjoying.

As the second book that I read of 2020, I feel like this gave me a great running start to the year. It was positive and light-hearted. Yet, there were moments of genuineness and concern that not all comedians are able to achieve. It certainly makes me want to watch Carlson’s Netflix special.

<- The Beginning of EverythingGet Well Soon! ->

Image source: Allen & Unwin

23 thoughts on “Rolling with the Punchlines by Urzila Carlson

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