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Friday, January 29, 2010

I Am America (So Can You) Discussion

I Am America (So Can You)

by Stephen Colbert

genre: comedy

Succinctly put, this book is a raging plethora of exaggerated political hubris and paranoia presented as postulation. Colbert outlines all of the things 'attacking' the American way and Christianity. These things he presents as gospel truth. Heavily leaning against liberals and homosexuals, he takes the GOP stance to the utmost of ridiculous. He is obviously being sarcastic.

Once again, I went into this thinking, "Hey I like this comedian, I'll love his book" and was sorely disappointed. Not that I didn't laugh. But I was cringing a lot too. I began to wonder who he truly was making fun of and if any of the people reading this book held such ludicrous ideas as truth, would they think he was encouraging them? He certainly went into distasteful territory in my opinion. I don't mind an in your face comedian. And I get sarcasm. But this was too much for me to laugh at. And that is where my disappointment lies. It was vitriolic while trying to be tongue in cheek and I lost the laughter after about three or four chapters.

Example: "..until that great day when all humans can't see color, those with darker skin should take the Invisible Man's brave example and wrap themselves in the white bandages of unity so that we all truly look the same color.
"You see, White people are already wrapped in bandages: the skin God gave us to protect ourselves from racism."

or on immigration: "We need to build a 2000-mile long wall along our southern border...We don't want these Mexican Jumping Beans hopping over whenever they feel like it...something that can be seen from space, with double-wall construction, machine-gun nests and a flaming moat..."

Like I said, I'm not immune to the fact that he's using exaggeration and causticness, it's just that it feels like it goes too far without enough punchline humor to counter it. I think he's funnier in person where inflection and tone and the visual imagery of making fun of himself and those he's supposedly supporting help to make that balancing effect.

Did anyone else read the book? How did you feel about the humor? Were there passages you especially liked or hated?

4 comments:

meno said...

I too love Colbert and think The Colbert Report is BRILLIANT, but i have to agree with you.

It's very difficult to translate "stand-up" humor into writing. Witness the Lewis Black book we read a while ago, any Garrison Keilor book, Carrie Fisher's book....

I could go on, but i don't often read books written by those kinds of comedians.

I was kind of creeped out by some of his stuff, as illustrated by the examples you gave.

I'm going to see Kathy Griffin tonight and my buddy with whom i am going offered to lend me her book beforehand. I decided against it so i can go in "fresh."

Not everyone should carry their humor over into a book, but i guess the money to be made is irresistible.

de said...

Haha. See, when I read your examples, I laugh, but when I had the book in front of me, I just couldn't stand to read it because of the format - I don't like magazines, graphic novels, web pages with too much junk on them. I agree with Meno, too, that most of these comedians don't translate well onto the page.

jaded said...

I didn't read it, and mostly for the same reasons stated here. When I watch Colbert in person I hear the inflections, as you said, and I see visual clues from his changing facial expressions. It seems like the more extreme the sarcasm the least likely a bit translates well to paper.

Gordo said...

Lewis Black's book made me cringe i listened to the audio version, so I could hear it as he intended.

Some comedians just should write books. Pretty simple.