Book Reviews – Fierce, Funny, and Female

A Journey Through Middle America, The Texas Oil Field, and Standup Comedy

Fierce Funny And Female by Marti MacGibbon

“Being funny is a survival skill. Marti MacGibbon’s incredible memoir Fierce, Funny, and Female is not only a survivor’s tale but an inspirational story of overcoming the unthinkable, again and again…Her courage and comedy make Fierce, Funny, and Female a winner…Above all, MacGibbon celebrates her resilience and her willingness to keep laughing. She goes in swinging, and from the first vivid scene, it’s clear that she is a natural comedian and a wonderful storyteller. As she tackles her difficult adolescence and young adulthood, she seems to ask, ‘What else ya got?’” — Foreword Clarion Reviews (5 Stars)

“An effervescently witty…chronicle of perseverance and the power to overcome the darkest of days…noted humorist and inspirational speaker MacGibbon now shares the story of her childhood and adolescence…through a sweeping series of anecdotal, coming-of-age sequences…Perhaps the most rewarding chapter in this chatty, affecting book is the concluding one, where MacGibbon lists the tried-and-true pearls of wisdom that continue to sustain her…”

Kirkus Reviews (Editorial Recommendation)

“Fierce, Funny, and Female is a thoroughly engaging memoir packed with witty observations, high adventure, and a glimpse of behind-the-scenes Hollywood. Author and standup comic Marti MacGibbon shares her life experience with wit, wisdom, grace, and laugh-out-loud humor. Highly recommended!”

— Midwest Book Review

“This is a well-written memoir, one that will keep readers engaged throughout this long book. MacGibbon is a natural storyteller, and her life story is a most interesting one. The characters she has run across during her life journey are well-drawn and absolutely fascinating, particularly the good ol’ boys in the Texas oilfields…MacGibbon’s encounters with some of comedy’s royalty are a fun addition…”

— San Francisco Book Review Star Rating: 4.5 – 5

“Author, comedian, and advocate Marti MacGibbon knows a little something about standing up to adversity…it takes a deft touch to be funny about the dark moments in one’s life. She never makes light of those horrible moments, somehow managing to thread the needle and deliver all of the intensity of the bad while still undercutting it with funny asides and observations. It’s a balancing act that many other authors would struggle with, but MacGibbon makes it look effortless…What might’ve seemed hokey in another author’s hands becomes hilarious and distinctive with Marti’s careful ministrations…Fierce, Funny, and Female, much like its author, is a triple threat, representing the hope and resurrection of which we are all capable.”

— Manhattan Book Review Star Rating: 4.5-5

“Being a huge fan of Marti MacGibbon’s first memoir, Never Give in to Fear, I am happy to say that the prequel, Fierce, Funny and Female, does not disappoint! It hits the ground running and never stops.  Understanding where Marti came from is intense but her journey is so inspiring, with humor in exactly the right places so that you can’t put the book down. The spirit of this book offers hope and encouragement to anyone who feels lost in the system…a story for anyone who wants equality for themselves, their daughters, wives or mothers.”

— Karen Rontowski, standup comic, Comedy Central and Late Night with David Letterman

“Fierce, Funny, and Female is the prequel to Marti MacGibbon’s first installment, her autobiographical memoir, Never Give in to Fear, and unlike most prequels, it neither stalls nor disappoints. Simply stated, the author has had fascinating adventures, including a highly instructive interim with members of a Christian cult, and a run up and down the scale of the entire range of the social and economic ladder… Working a series of low paying and humbling waitressing jobs and enduring the virtually universal male condescension of her employers, she sets her course towards a high-paying, traditionally male job in the Texas oil field…She wins over even the crustiest of the cusses who ride with her, and remains cool when she is unexpectedly surrounded by emus. Emus? Yes, you have to read the book. MacGibbon has written a hilarious testament to the power of endurance and hope that gives no quarter to self-pity. She is magnificent.”

— Dr. James Vinson Carmichael Jr., Professor of Library and Information Studies, Univ. of North Carolina



Reviews of Never Give in to Fear: Laughing All the Way Up from Rock Bottom


“…an incredible, inspiring, sometimes funny, often unbelievable journey to recovery. No matter what your personal journey is, this book will help you along the way.”
– Alonzo Bodden, comedian, winner of NBC’s Last Comic Standing: Tonight Show, and star of the Showtime special, “Who’s Paying Attention.”

“I absolutely love this book. I haven’t read a drug infused adventure this good since Hunter Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. MacGibbon’s book is funny, inspirational and always entertaining.”
– Ritch Shydner, comedian, Tonight Show, Late Night with David Letterman, co-author, I Killed: True Stories of the Road by America’s Top Comics

“Rarely do you find such inspiration in so riveting a story. Moment to moment, the story twists and turns in a white-knuckle fashion – I held my breath in suspense, yet at the same time got the perfect amount of comic relief…Her narration is so funny and real that I found myself laughing out loud while my heart was breaking.”
– Karen Rontowski, comedienne, of Late Night with David Letterman and Comedy Central

“Marti MacGibbon has written a terrific memoir…Marti, through her humor and great sense of story, takes us on a journey few, if any of us, could survive. And she survives it intact and with great style and humor.”
– Mark Schiff, comedian, Tonight Show, Late Night with David Letterman: co-author, I Killed: True Stories of the Road from America’s Top Comics

“Marti MacGibbon takes you on a journey of amazing pitfalls, dizzying heights, and the depths of deepest alcoholism and drug addiction. Her recovery and redemption lift the spirit, and bring joy to the heart…most important book I have read in the past five years.”
– Paul Jacek, comedian, co-host of the internet sensation “OH, MARY!” radio show on LA Talk Radio.

“Ms. MacGibbon’s memoir is a raw, honest and powerful account of her journey into addiction and her extraordinary courage, humor, and sensitivity as she travels the path to recovery. Never Give in to Fear provides readers with remarkable insight into the human condition.”
– Richard Nass, Ph.D, Associate Professor of Pharmacology and Toxicology, Indiana University School of Medicine

“Marti MacGibbon’s Never Give in to Fear sets a very high standard for any memoir to follow, and especially one of the genre that deals with addiction…at times hilariously gruesome, but ruthlessly hopeful, she gives the most jaded reader, whether in recovery or not, a reason to wake up and see what is new in the world.
– Dr. James Vinson Carmichael Jr., Professor of Library and Information Studies, University of North Carolina at Greensboro

Read entire editorial reviews of Marti MacGibbon’s bestselling memoir:

From Midwest Book Reviews:

Burroughs’ Bookshelf

“We make many mistakes in our life, and if we can laugh at them, we got the best of it. “Never Give In To Fear: Laughing All the Way Up from Rock Bottom” is a memoir of life and living from Marti MacGibbon as she shares her life of world travel and bad ideas, spaced through anecdotes, dealing with her own demons and finding the light at the end of the tunnel to pursue. “Never Give In To Fear” is a fine pick and much worth considering for memoir and humor collections.”

John Burroughs

From Kirkus Reviews:

Marti MacGibbon shows readers just how rough the road to redemption is in her gritty memoir of addiction.

The narrative begins with Marti, an aspiring stand-up comedian with a promising career, strung out on drugs and steeped in a culture of sex and music. A new transplant to California from Texas, Marti feels like she’s on top of the world; instead, she’s about to hit rock bottom. She’s running from the pain of losing custody of her daughter, and in her haphazard pursuit of success she clings to “the dope fiends, the winos, the crystal meth chefs. My kind of people. People I could trust.” Soon after moving to a new town, she has a terrifying nightmare that sends her spiraling into a ruinous relationship. When her dark dream turns into a real-life news story, Marti and her boyfriend run further from the fear and realities that, once confronted, will ultimately make or break the couple. Any reader who has ever faced chilling regrets will sympathize with Marti as she recounts, one by one, the red flags of her past. The book’s title, however, may give the impression of a self-he lp focus that doesn’t actually run through the narrative. While parts of Marti’s life may be tough to read about—she doesn’t spare readers the harsh language, violence and sexuality of real life—her levity and transparency make the journey bearable and worthwhile. Her raw, honest, casual, funny voice permeates every page. The road to recovery begins with her daughter’s forgiveness and continues in a new, healthy marriage. Facing a number of tough crowds as her stand-up career restarts also helps Marti learn to maintain her composure. In the end, readers will likely feel the restorative power that’s symbolized in the memoir’s striking closing image of a rare albino redwood, a symbol of healing.

A dark yet inspiring look at conquering addiction and regaining hope.

Pub Date: Oct. 8th, 2012 ISBN: 978-0-9860067-0-8 Page count: 376pp Publisher: Stay Strong Publishing Program: Kirkus Indie Review Posted Online: June 22nd, 2012

From Forward Clarion Review: Five Stars (out of Five)

Ever conscious that the past makes us who we are, Marti MacGibbon, a recovering alcoholic and addict, not only leaves open the door to her past—she goes in, turns the lights on, makes herself a cup of coffee, and gets comfortable on the couch. Her memoir of recovery is an unflinching examination of her choices and what they cost her—as well as how she was pulled out of her personal hell into a saner way of life.

MacGibbon, as a certified addiction treatment professional, clearly understands the value of honesty. The bald truth can make us laugh, or it can be a punch in the gut. MacGibbon’s voice in Never Give in to Fear is wholly her own. Her narration is funny— she can laugh at her old self, even as she shows the reader the terror and loss she felt in the past. When she goes to buy drugs from a madwoman dealer near Guerneville, MacGibbon says, “My skin crawled at the thought of visiting this madhouse, but I knew the lunatic woman kept a stash of pain pills around her place. She was the ideal person to seek out as a de facto pharmacist. Besides, Firebird’s leg couldn’t wait while I shopped around the River for opiates in the wee hours of a stormy night.” Though the situation is dire, MacGibbon is self-aware, and is able to show the humor of the moment without losing the tense pacing of her story. The memoir whips along, hardly taking a breath.

Never Give in to Fear earns its place among other recent sobriety memoirs. Comparable to Mary Karr’s Lit, and Drinking: A Love Story by Caroline Knapp, Never Give in to Fear is an excellent story, both inspiring and entertaining. MacGibbon has a natural gift for storytelling—no surprise, considering her background as a standup comic and motivational speaker. What makes Never Give in to Fear shine is MacGibbon’s ease with her story. She doesn’t apologize for who she is, and she doesn’t try to win over the reader. It’s just the facts, ma’am, and by the time the first chapter is over she’s already on a roll. Honest to a fault, in ruthless pursuit of the story, MacGibbon’s memoir is captivating from the very first sentence.

MacGibbon has written—and lived—her way through a forbidding place. It’s wonderful to not only read her story, but to know that she has flourished in her years of recovery. A memoir that offers hope, even in the worst of times, Never Give in to Fear is a terrific read. It’s the perfect book for a reader in recovery, though MacGibbon’s real-life adventures will be equally appealing to anyone who needs a little more adrenaline in their reading list.

Claire Foster


From Chris Thrall, author of Eating Smoke: One Man’s Descent into Drug Psychosis in Hong Kong’s Triad Heartland
Never give in to being ordinary!

What a stunning debut by an all-round talented individual. The synopsis: a young and beautiful Marti MacGibbon is set to make it big on the LA comedy circuit, indeed already has an appearance on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson lined up and ready to thrust her into comedy gold with the likes of Barr, Belushi and Pryor – but the exact same qualities that make her a candidate for genius see her exploring the ‘other’ side of life, namely the narcotic underworld and a drug called crystal meth. In short, it’s a sidetrack that sees Marti on a substance-fueled quest to understand who she really is before tapping into the rich vein of her potential and her unique, witty and far-out personality.

The book begins with a gripping portrayal of her sex-trafficking at the hands of the Japanese Yakuza criminal organization, a terrifying yet matter-of-fact account that is in itself material for a whole book. From there, the story weaves through a cameo of interesting, dubious and often downright dangerous characters and locations as Marti’s attempt to find herself gradually spirals to an all-time low. One particular line in the book – and I won’t cite it as I don’t want to spoil it for the reader – is a promise that she makes to her daughter. It had tears pouring down my face, as I understand the journey Marti went on and the belief-in-self that an individual must possess to make such a declaration having come home from a personal war that most others will never understand.

Full credit to an amazing person, an accomplished author, one who has managed to laugh all the way up from rock bottom. Thank you.

From San Francisco Book Review, re-posted in Portland Book Review:

Never Give in to Fear By Marti MacGibbon Stay Strong Publishing, 369 pages, $15.95

Addicts act less like people and more like animals. They misplace thoughts of self-preservation with a need to find the next fix. The book, Never Give In To Fear follows Marti MacGibbon’s descent into her own personal hell, filled with loss, regret, and drug abuse. She moved to San Francisco in the early 1980s to pursue a stand-up comedy career. She even had a chance to be on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. Unfortunately, Marti’s recreational drug use quickly became a full-scale addiction.

In the book, Marti’s spiral downward takes us from the Russian River people, to her imprisonment in Japanese prostitution ring, and a meth-fueled drive to Nebraska. While the overall tone of the book is dark and seedy, Marti’s natural humor and storytelling help balance out the book into a symmetrical tale of both hurt and healing.

I had to remind myself that Marti is going to survive each encounter in the book. That thought gave me an emotional safety net. Some of the places the book travels to are so fantastical and dangerous that it is a miracle that Marti survives. The narrative was the best part of the book. It felt like there were two narrators telling the story. There is the Marti of the story, the plucky young woman that had to live day-to-day getting high. There was also Marti, the writer, whose voice added much-needed levity and humor to the book’s overall tone.

The book is successful as a motivating tool and touching story. In the end, her saving grace comes in an unlikely form, and it almost brought a tear to my eye. Never Give In To Fear is a book everyone needs to read. This is not only a story about the danger of drugs, but about the power of the human spirit.

Kerri Kochanski, blogger and author (People That Shine

Some may be eager to write off drug addicts as “losers” and “degenerates” that don’t deserve a second glance. This book, however, can change their opinion. It pulls back the stigma of “drug addiction,” and reveals a beautiful, funny, self-aware (yet chemically dependent) woman that, unfortunately, struggles with drugs. Her story is raw, engrossing and well-written — and she tells it with truth, humor and grit. Her spirit, in the face of trauma and desperation, is unique and surprising. A very good, entertaining read that takes you into the underbelly of drug addiction — and, as a bonus, lets you “hang with” and experience the interesting characters that live within. Rich, insightful and uplifting.

‏The winter months serve up some great opportunities to curl up with a good read while the snow flies.  Forget the technology.  There are still good ‘page turners’ out there that will keep your attention.  Some of them are widely publicized, and some are not.  However, books that are off the beaten path sometimes are solid ones for readers.

‏Marti MacGibbon’s work “Never Give In To Fear” is a grabber of a book.  A memoir that will keep your interest, you have a ringside seat to someone who made it through the world of sexual trafficking, drugs, and life in the underground culture–and lived to tell about it.  Mix in the fact that the author emerges victorious in several places, and you have a page turner for your library.

‏“Never Give In To Fear” is a good motto to remember for the year ahead.  It’s  the story of a woman who has ‘been there’, and now makes her living helping others out of the darkness that formerly held her.  The last three chapters of the book, as well as the epilogue will cause the reader to come away with a tear in their eye.

‏Overall, you have a good ‘before and after’ story.  Yes, the language is a bit salty, and the descriptions of drug buying, use, and sexual trafficking may seem to be a little overdone in a few places.  However, if you want a ‘tame’ read, this isn’t the one.  MacGibbon takes the reader through the background and back alleys in her life in the drug culture of a recent past era.  The amazing part of the story is that God intervened in more than one place in MacGibbon’s life, leading her to eventually ‘get back’ her comedy timing and putting these skills together with training as a counselor and conference speaker.

‏“Never Give In To Fear” (2011, 369 pages, Stay Strong Publishing) is a memoir that pulls no punches.  MacGibbon handles the issues as one who has lived through them…and has come out on the other side to tell the tale.  The book is available from your favorite on-line book seller, or can be obtained through the author’s website:

‏Mike Ramey is a Minister, Reviewer and Syndicated Columnist who lives in Indianapolis, Indiana.  On Line Reviews brings current and lesser-known titles to public light in the quest to re-kindle a love for reading in a sea of modern technology.

New editorial review of Never Give in to Fear, from Syndicated Columnist and Reviewer Mike Ramey.
‏Mike Ramey, On Line Reviews.