Wednesday 10 August 2022

The Comedienne’s Guide to Pride

The Comedienne’s Guide to Pride
by Hayli Thomson (Harper Collins) ISBN 9781460762325 RRP $19.95 (PB)

Reviewed by Nean McKenzie

Taylor has known for some time that she is gay and that she is funny. This story is about how she finds the courage to tell others, especially her mum. Set in the historical witch trial town of Salem, The Comedienne’s Guide to Pride is about that unique time between school and college, where quite important decisions are made. It’s also about family, new, and old relationships and learning to believe in yourself.

Taylor has three secrets. The first is that she’s applied for an internship with Saturday Night Live and is on the shortlist. This should be great news, but there’s a catch. It’s a diversity internship and Taylor hasn’t told anyone that she’s gay, not even her mum or her best friend Brooke. The shortlist will be published by the end of the year which gives Taylor a deadline to come out before it all goes public.


The second secret is that Taylor has been in love with a girl from her school called Charlotte for some time. When Charlotte seems to return Taylor’s feelings, they begin a secret relationship. As the announcement for the internship looms, and people at school begin to guess, Taylor worries about how people will react when they find out. The third secret is that Taylor has been going to improvisation classes. And loving it. Taylor is also anxious about how her mother, an ex-comedian, will deal with this.

The setting of Salem is the highlight for me with descriptions of re-enactments, the Witchcraft Museum and everyone claiming to be descendants of John Proctor. It is also effective that Taylor, who wants to be a comedian, covers up her true feelings with jokes (which doesn’t always work well for her). The deadline of the internship is a good way to force the issues Taylor is trying to face, drawing the reader through the story to see what happens at the end. And it’s no surprise that Taylor’s mum is quite OK about everything in the end (despite Taylor’s worries).

The Comedienne’s Guide to Pride with its bright pink cover is Australian author Hayli Thomson’s debut young adult novel.  

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