The perfect companion to solitary isolation, Tanya Hennessy’s no-frills guide to adulthood has Blitz writer Demi Ball in stitches as she prompts readers to question, ‘am I doing this right?!’
Have you ever grabbed Russell Crowe’s head while attempting to balance on stilts? Tanya Hennessy has. The comedian, radio announcer and internet sensation recounts her funniest mishaps in the marvellous debut Am I Doing This Right? Life Lessons from the Encyclopedia Bri-TANYA.
Part memoir, part encyclopaedia, or as Hennessy herself describes, “It’s sorta autobiographical but mainly it’s relatable lols’”, she immediately engages our attention with her conversational tone and hilarious anecdotes.
It’s an A-Z guide full of advice taken from lessons learned over three decades; quick, light-hearted and very readable. Hennessy is unapologetically honest, infusing her witty humour into every sentence: “I really want Subway cookies and I don’t want to put pants on and leave the house again.” I mean, she’s not the only one, right?!
It’s an encyclopaedia of accurately relatable headings: A is for Awkward, Z is for Zzz and E is for Exercise (her main message in this category being: “How good is bread?”). It’s hard not to be captured by her blunt approach and honest reflections; she can’t read an analogue clock and just wants to live in her pyjamas (I feel you there, Tan. I’ve been living in mine for the last 24 days).
But it’s in between the funny stories and awkward scenarios that she reveals a glimmer of vulnerability, touching on the more emotional and challenging parts of being human, particularly one in the public eye. The confronting reality of stalkers, trolling, mental health and body image issues are mentioned, and Hennessy’s ability to overcome these adversities is admirable. Underpinning it all is a valuable message: anything is possible with hard work.
From the university days, to a failed career as a struggling actress, transitioning to the world of radio and the videos that went viral, Hennessy’s journey through life is nothing short of colourful. Being woken at midnight by her teenaged brother ‘banging’ against the walls (knitting, obviously) and receiving birthday smacks by teachers in second grade (no longer legal), she will have you cracked up throughout the whole 224 pages.
If you’re a fan of Hennessy or familiar with her online videos, radio segments or most recently, her appearance on reality television show I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here!, you’ll find this to be a great companion to her comedic presence.
She’ll urge you to “lower your expectations, strap yourself in and enjoy”. For those who ‘don’t have time to read’ (pfft, get off Instagram! You have no excuse not to read while in lockdown), Hennessy narrates an audiobook version, which is available on Audible.
She makes us laugh, she makes us cry (of laughter), but most importantly, she reassures us that failures are life’s best lessons. She reminds us that someday, we’ll be able to look back on that awkward moment we gripped Russell Crowe’s head while stilt-walking, and laugh.
And who knows, perhaps you’ll realise you are doing it right.
Spoiler alert: Russell was not impressed by the head-grabbing.
P.S. Hennessy has another book in the works, set to come out this year. Isolation reading covered!
You can buy Am I Doing This Right? from Dymocks or your local bookstore.