November 17, 2009

Rabid Reads: "I Am America (And So Can You!) by Stephen Colbert

Title: I Am America (And So Can You!)
Author: Stephen Colbert
Published: Grand Central Publishing (2007)
Pages: 227
Genre: Humor; Satire; Nonfiction
ISBN -10: 0446580503
ISBN-13: 9780446580502

Back when Comedy Central first announced they were giving Stephen Colbert his own show, based on a satirical ad during his time on The Daily Show, I wondered just how desperate for original content they had become. Within a few minutes of watching the debut episode of The Colbert Report, however, I realized they had stumbled upon a gem of a show.

The acerbic wit, and uncanny parody of cable news punditry, by Colbert and his writing team have provided more laughs to me over the years than nearly anything else on television. We Canucks love our political satire, as evidenced by This Hour Has 22 Minutes and Air Farce (not a show I cared for personally), and when we see that Americans enjoy laughing at themselves as much as we love laughing and ourselves--and Americans--we flock to it as well.

I think Stephen Colbert has done pretty well for himself over the years. Heck, the guy's practically a rock star. He lambasted the then sitting President, George "Dubya" Bush, at the White House Press Conference Dinner, as well as the press, in magnificent fashion. His satirical skewering of Republicans and Democrats alike have whizzed over the heads of feeble-minded politicians--Republicans clambering to be be on his show or praise his rhetoric during the early days, while Democrats were ordered by their quartermasters not to give him the time of day. He's has a species of spider named after him, a minor league hockey team embraced his "truthiness" and namesake, and he's even sung with some of music's legends of today and tomorrow.

The man and his brand have managed to turn the most mundane and relatively obscure facets of his show and life, and turn it all into periodic crazes and fads. Wikiality, "Wrist Strong" bracelets, and even a book. I Am American (And So Can You!).

If you're a fan of The Colbert Report, what you'll find inside its pages is what amounts to a transcript of everything that's every been lampooned on the show. He (and I suspect a couple of select members of his writing staff) lampoon Hollywood, homosexuality, religion, the elderly, and every other tidbit of humanity cultural conservatives have rallied against ad nauseam. All with the finesse to show just how inane the arguments against certain "liberal" ideals really are.

But even at a scant two-hundred and twenty-some pages, the subject matter and comedic tone can becoming a less amusing drone if read for too long a stretch. To read the book from cover to cover would be like sitting through a Colbert Report weekend marathon. It might be great for a few diehards out there, but the majority of us need to break that humor up into doses. Thankfully, the book is categorized in such a way that you can read one chapter, set it down, then come back to it a couple days later and not feel like you've lost your place one iota.

If you're not familiar with the style of comedy employed here, you're better off getting acquainted with Stephen Colbert by tuning into his show on Comedy Central. If you're already a fan, this will provide even more laughs that will last for some time to come. And if you're neither a fan, nor interested in becoming one ... what's wrong with you? Are you a Communist?


  1. I heart Colbert. I have to take him in very small doses though - say, twice a week. Otherwise it's just TOO MUCH of a good thing.

    By the way, did you see Neil Gaiman's interview on his show? Loved that. It's probably on YouTube somewhere...

  2. I have not seen the Gaiman interview. I did catch the Malcom Gladwell interview this week, however. Awkward and funny. :)