Tuesday, March 4, 2008

I Am America (and so can you)


I've been a proud member of the Colbert Nation since Stephen broke off from that commie John Stewart and forged out on his own. So it's only natural that I would read his book. I'm about a year too late to give it a prescient review, but if you haven't picked it up yet, it's definitely worth a read.

Stephen rehashes some of the best parts of his show, but there's a lot of fresh humor here. He gives us his opinion on everything from sex to the elderly to sex with the elderly, thankfully that part is without illustrations. He's not afraid to stoop to using a poop joke or to reference an obscure philosopher that may have you rushing to wikipedia. Much of the book is padded with visuals and charts, so it's a quicker read than its size might lead you to believe. Still, it's also padded with funny bonus items like stickers and cut-outs, so you get a bit of a bargain for your hardcover price.

If you're a fan of the show, he treads a lot of familiar ground, but he can go a lot further than Comedy Central will let him. There are a lot of laughs in the book, and I annoyed the hell out of my friends and family by pausing every few paragraphs to read aloud. Some things just can't be explained, but when you meet Cave Jesus I assure you, you'll understand.

He ends the book with the text of his infamous White House Correspondents Dinner speech, which really shot him onto the national stage as having enormous cojones. Move over Al Franken, the new political comedian is Stephen Colbert. No offense to Jon Stewart, I enjoy his show, but there's a reason you get chosen to host the Oscars a second time- you're funny, but also inoffensive enough to not really shake things up. That's why we won't see Chris Rock up there again.

I enjoyed this much more than Rush Limbaugh Is a Big Fat Idiot, which helped open the gates for offensive political humor again. Who did we have before that, P.J. O'Rourke? He can write well, but his heyday is past, if he ever had one. The book also manages to mimic the show visually, by using red text in the margins in place of The W├śRD subtitles that riff off what Stephen's saying. It must have been a blast or a nightmare for the designer and the publisher. Hopefully Mr. Colbert will have enough material for a few more of these, because mocking O'Reilly and Coulter is a worthy pursuit, and he's really good at it. I can enjoy Bill Maher, but sometimes when your political opponents paint themselves in such broad strokes, you don't need to bother refuting them. Using their own words against them is enough, and Colbert is the master of that.

Rating: 3 American flags and half an apple pie.

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