June 04, 2024

I Shouldn’t Be Telling You This

By Chelsea Devantez
Review by
Comedy writer Chelsea Devantez romps through personal embarrassments, traumas and triumphs in her memoir, I Shouldn’t Be Telling You This.
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In her memoir-in-essays, I Shouldn’t Be Telling You This: (But I’m Going to Anyway), Emmy-nominated comedy writer Chelsea Devantez recounts her rise to success through a series of moments that range from comical to harrowing. She came up in Chicago’s highly competitive improv club The Second City, whose alumni list boasts everyone from John Belushi to Tina Fey. Eventually, Devantez became the head writer of The Problem With Jon Stewart, but the road there was not easy. She toiled for years in the grueling improv/comedy industry. Often when opportunity knocked, like one to create a television show, things never quite panned out. According to TV execs, she was too ethnic or not ethnic enough; too funny or not funny enough.

Devantez is no stranger to finding humor in the absurd and traumatic around us. Growing up in a family that was often tumultuous, and at the mercy of her mother’s romantic partners, Devantez learned how to make even the most difficult situations comedic. There were bright spots amid her personal and career woes: other women. Throughout I Shouldn’t Be Telling You This, Devantez shows how she couldn’t have made it in the business or in life without the complicated women and girls who surrounded her. From Devantez’s mesmerizing comedy partner who broke her heart, to the gossipy adversary she aptly names Shitbitch, to her ever-supportive mother who often struggled to free herself from abusive men, each taught Devantez something critical about the world and herself.

Devantez excels at exploring the interiority of her mind while conjuring a colorful cast of characters. As her career and life develop, she’s inspired by drag queens, evangelizing Mormon girls, cruise ship theater troupes and the memoir of comedy legend Rachel Dratch. Readers will also appreciate her frank discussions about money. In the memorable “Roger Roger,” Devantez proudly calls herself “glamorous trash” and examines the true cost of not benefiting from nepotism. Her adept critique extends beyond her lack of “a cousin who had a cousin who had a cousin who knew the accountant for Jennifer Aniston” but truly considers the reality of how race and gender play into comedy success. How does one “make it” in Hollywood—or anywhere—when you aren’t the type of person who usually does?

In I Shouldn’t Be Telling You This, Devantez answers this question and many others with acute honesty as she romps through personal embarrassments, traumas and triumphs, often proving that success is not only measured by what you do, but by who joins you along the way.

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I Shouldn’t Be Telling You This

I Shouldn’t Be Telling You This

By Chelsea Devantez
Hanover Square
ISBN 9781335455079

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