A Very Punchable Face by Colin Jost


                             “There comes a time when you look into the mirror and you realize that what you see is all you will ever be.”

                —TENNESSEE WILLIAMS

                “I don’t know what I think until I write it down.”

                —JOAN DIDION

I’ve wanted to write a book my entire life. Partially because (as you will soon learn) I have difficulty taking what’s inside my head and saying it out loud. For someone whose job is essentially speaking, this creates a deep anxiety and sometimes a paralysis that keeps me from expressing what I’m really thinking. Whereas the act of writing allows my brain to function in a different way. I can write and not be afraid of what I’m going to say.

            I also just love books. They were my first escape and the only way I traveled and learned about the world without leaving the island I grew up on. Books were my ticket to a good high school and a good college. And books were how I learned about the people I admired, from Teddy Roosevelt to Tina Fey (the modern Teddy Roosevelt).

            Some of you know me from Saturday Night Live, where I’ve been a head writer and co-anchor of Weekend Update (the real fake news) for the past six years.

                         Some of you know me from OK! magazine, where I’m standing on a red carpet next to my much more famous fiancée.

            Some of you think you know me, but you’re actually just thinking of the villain from an ’80s movie who tries to steal the hero’s girlfriend by challenging him to a ski race.

            And some of you, I’ll admit, were duped. Because half the copies of this book were titled Becoming 2: Michelle’s Got More to Say. And for that I apologize, even as I continue to fight Mrs. Obama aggressively in court.

            Regardless, thank you for reading my book. I’m not a person who opens up easily. I’m half German and half Irish Catholic. So it’s never a good sign when your German side is the less repressed one.

            That’s why I rarely post anything on social media or do any serious interviews. I feel ashamed when talking about myself, even though everyone else is doing it.

            But doing it in book form puts me at ease somehow. Because, again, books were my friends. Math was my girlfriend. And I lost my virginity to spelling.

            I called this book A Very Punchable Face because multiple friends have told me: “Colin, you have a very punchable face.”

            These are friends, mind you. So I can only imagine what my enemies are saying.*1

            I’m so punchable that I’ve been punched in at least four different sketches on SNL, including one where my boss, seventy-five-year-old Lorne Michaels, punches me in the face fifteen times. (He demanded multiple takes. Said there were “lighting issues.”)

                         Leslie Jones has punched me. Tiffany Haddish has punched me. Cecily Strong has spit vodka in my face and vomited red wine all over me.

            I’ve learned that anytime I get physically abused on camera, people laugh.

            That is why many chapters in this book involve me getting hit in the face, verbally assaulted, sliced open, pummeled by fruits and vegetables, thrown out of a wrestling ring, or metaphorically punched by trolls and critics. And yes, there’s also a chapter about me shitting my pants as a grown adult. Sorry, Grandma!

            And listen, I understand why some people want to punch me. I’m self-aware enough to realize what I look like.