Comedian Aasif Mandvi keeps it funny and thoughtful in his autobiography No Land’s Man, giving an interesting look at his life growing up in two different countries, starting out as an actor, and eventually becoming a recognizable Muslim figure in the American media.
Most people know Mandvi from “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” as the team’s leading “Muslim correspondent.” However, if you’re looking for crazy behind-the-scenes stories of “The Daily Show”’s cast and crew, No Land’s Man is not the place to begin. Mandvi only briefly mentions “The Daily Show,” instead dedicating the majority of No Land’s Man to look back on his life and other career accomplishments.
The book is split into three parts framed around his journey back to his English hometown, Bradford. In each chapter Mandvi begins a story, diverges off into a different one, then brings it back around to the main point. It’s a tough style to pull off in a book, but it works. Sections switch between deep reflections pondering his identity as an “Indian-English-American-Muslim-ish” man to funny anecdotes from his school days, family, and his early acting career in New York.
No Land’s Man isn’t a comedy heavyweight like other comedian autobiographies, but he includes more personal stories and deeper reflections. Mandvi’s humor doesn’t come from amazing stories of backstage hijinks only New York City comedians could experience, but from his witty, dry commentary of average events. He never gets so pensive that it drags the story, but he offers good advice and reflection on what it’s like to be a part of many different cultures and reconcile them with one’s identity.
Through his stories, Mandvi shows he understands what it’s like to not belong to any one place, but instead build a home in all those places and in the passions a person decides to pursue. Very funny and surprisingly heartfelt, No Land’s Man should not be forgotten in the list of comedian autobiographies to read this year.