I Am America (And So Can You!)–by Stephen Colbert and others
Really quick read, could probably get through it in one or two sittings but the persona starts wearing on the reader if you sit with it too long. My favorite parts are probably the marginal asides, particularly the barking orders to the reader. I didn’t like the haphazard groupings within chapters and grab bag of subject matter. I get that broadness and superficial treatments of topics are pretty much Colbert’s wheelhouse, but somehow I felt like it was so much skimming of an array of subjects when the book might have done better to stick with just a handful of key areas and skewer them a little more thoroughly.
I only began to dog-ear my favorite pages in the last third of the book (despite EXPRESSLY being warned not to in the early pages–sorry, Stephen), so I’ve forgotten many great jokes along the way. But below is an excerpt from one of my favorite passages, which comes from one of the “Stephen Speaks For Me” segments. In this chapter on class war, we get a brief glimpse into the life of a Mr. Thomas Bindlestaff, who writes about his hardscrabble and modest life as Stephen’s supposed executive assistant. His account is even better for the plucky way he describes his curiously antiquated struggles. There are even typographical jokes.
“Like all Mr. Colbert’s emPloyees, my salary is Paid in company ScriP. Mr. Colbert has thoughtfully Provided a comPany store with a variety of fine dry goods. It has all the essentials: flour, salt, corn, meal, rendered beef tallow, ticking and burlap. My wife has her eye on a tin of baking Powder. The ladies do love to dream!”
- “GUT SPEAKING: The worst thing about affirmative action is that it encourages reverse discrimination, so-called because it goes in the opposite way of how we naturally discriminate.”
- “Once upon a Time, there was a right kind of foreigner.”
- “Isn’t that [a much shorter alternative to the scientific method] a whole lot easier than analyzing electromagnetic background for evidence of some ‘Big Bang’ fourteen billion years ago? Fourteen billion is a pretty big number, and God didn’t create us so we could waste time trying to picture fourteen billion cupcakes. (DON’T TRY THIS!) [In margin: One...two...aaargh!]“
- “[Scientists] are physically awkward and lonely, so they spent their adolescence down by the creek studying creatures that live there. ‘I may be ridiculed at school,’ they think, ‘but a crayfish would never judge me.’ [Footnote: Wrong! If that crayfish had bigger claws, it would pants you in a second.]“