I laughed, I cried, I passed time while I was hooked up to a breast-pump in the hospital. Quite possibly one of the greatest coffee-table books I’ve ever read, Stephen Colbert’s I Am America (And So Can You!) is nothing it claims to be*, but everything you expected it to be.
The real genius of Stephen Colbert is that by playing the fool, he effectively mocks both sides of any political debate. His pundit character is that of an absurd, idiotic right-wing nut, which means he gets to make fun of the political right. But because he spends much of his time launching illogical insults toward the left-wing nuts, he occasionally works in a very effective critique of the political left. He’s found a way to mock everyone equally, and it’s so funny that nobody gets mad at him for it. Brilliant.
I Am America is no exception to this. It’s absurd, rambling, makes little-to-no sense, and it’s absolutely hilarious. It is occasionally raunchy – I would not read this to children – but to be honest, you could move it from PG-13 to PG by tearing out about three pages total. (Parents’ guide: one page has photos of animal testicles – including one of human testicles – and about two or three other pages feature the F*** word. But I’m not joking when I say you could tear the pages out and leave the book fairly intact.) The book contains frequent references to the book itself, and how many copies you should buy for your friends. It includes a sheet of “award” stickers you can put on books you feel are worthy of them. (And yes, the award is already on the front cover of I Am America.) The author bio is as thus: “Stephen Colbert is America.” And the picture is priceless.
This image of Stephen Colbert is pretty much what you can and should expect from this book. If you expect any less silliness on every page, prepare to be disappointed. But you will get exactly this much grandiose, patriotic drivel. And all from one of the most prolific, well-spoken drivelers America has yet raised. ♦
*True doctrine, a get-rich-quick scheme, a new religion, a solution to all of America’s problems…