Lighten Your Thanksgiving Trek With These Audiobooks, Comedy Albums

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If you're among the hordes of people expected to hit the road this Thanksgiving, what will you do to pass the time? NPR's Elizabeth Blair says you should laugh because 2014 was a very good year for comedy albums and comic audiobooks.

EIZABETH BLAIR, BYLINE: Talk to folks in the audiobook business and they'll tell you one of the best things to happen this year was Amy Poehler.


AMY POEHLER: Part one - say whatever you want.

BLAIR: The "Parks and Recreation" star and "Saturday Night Live" alum voices her best seller, "Yes Please." Here's what she calls her demon voice.


POEHLER: I hate how I look. That is the mantra we repeat over and over again. Sometimes we whisper it quietly. And other times we shout it out loud in front of a mirror. I hate how I look.

BLAIR: But Poehler is quick to turn that around.


POEHLER: I'm so ungrateful. I have arms and legs. And I can walk. And I have strong nail beds. And I'm alive. And I am so selfish. And I have to read "Man's Search For Meaning" again and call my parents and volunteer more and reduce my carbon footprint. And why am I such a self-obsessed, ugly [bleep]? No wonder I hate how I look. I hate how I am.

BLAIR: Beth Anderson, head of Audible, says Poehler's audiobook is faithful to the print version. But she also goes off script.

BETH ANDERSON: I think this is one of the cases where the audiobook is actually better than the print book. And especially if you're an Amy Poehler fan, and you love to hear her talk, listening to this you're going to feel as if you're a fly on the wall of her home.

BLAIR: Another comedian, Jim Gaffigan, came out with two releases this year - a memoir and a CD called "Obsessed," which is all about food. Gaffigan's got a thing against shellfish.


JIM GAFFIGAN: Lobster tail - is that the area near the butt? Mmm...


BLAIR: Jim Gaffigan seems appropriate during a weekend when many Americans will be eating a lot, says Sean McCarthy, who writes the Comic's Comic website.

SEAN MCCARTHY: It might inspire some changing directions as you're going out to eat.


GAFFIGAN: How about those restaurants where you have to pick out your own lobster? You're like, I guess I'll take that one that's really struggling with the rubber bands.

BLAIR: Jim Gaffigan's tirades are also family-friendly if you've got antsy kids in the backseat. But that is not the case with Hannibal Buress, an edgy but laid-back comedian who's gotten a lot of attention this year from critics like Hudson Hongo, who writes about comedy for Paste Magazine.

HUDSON HONGO: He's been the best-kept secret - the comedian's comedian. And this year he finally really broke out.

BLAIR: In his album "Live From Chicago," Hannibal Buress talks about seeing rats in a New Orleans restaurant, weird tweets and being introduced to one of his celebrity fans - actress Scarlett Johansson.


HANNIBAL BURESS: And we go up. He says, Scarlett, this is Hannibal. Hannibal, Scarlett. She says, oh, Hannibal, I'm a huge fan of your stand-up. Thank you, Scarlett. I'm a huge fan of pictures of you. No, I didn't say that.


BURESS: I didn't say that. You can't say that type of stuff to people. You think it, but you don't say it. It's social norms, you know?

BLAIR: If you do have kids in the car, Jeff Kinney came out with a new "Diary Of A Wimpy Kid." And the audiobook is perfect for a car stuffed with kids and suitcases. It's called "The Long Haul."


RAMON DE OCAMPO: But when we had a station wagon, me and Rodrick used to sit in the way back together, in a seat that faced the rear window. But we got in big trouble when we played a practical joke on mom and dad - holding signs that read, these people are kidnapping us.

BLAIR: "The Long Haul" is about the family road trip from hell - gas stations, fender benders, fighting. Beth Anderson from Audible says it'll make whatever road trip you're on seem like a piece of cake. Elizabeth Blair, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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