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I Am America (And So Can You!) Hardcover – October 9, 2007
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Starred Review. Realizing that it takes more than thirty minutes a night to fix everything that's destroying America, Colbert bravely takes on the forces aligned to destroy our country—whether they be terrorists, environmentalists, or Kashi brand breakfast cereals. His various targets include nature (I've never trusted the sea. What's it hiding under there?), the Hollywood Blacklist (I would have named enough names to fill the Moscow phone book), and atheists (Imagine going through life completely duped into thinking that there's no invisible, omniscient higher power guiding every action on Earth. It's just so arbitrary!). Colbert also provides helpful illustrations and charts (Things That Are Trying to Turn Me Gay) [and] a complete transcript of his infamous speech at the 2006 White House Correspondents' Dinner [...] all of which add up to a book that is sure to be a bestseller and match the success of Colbert's former Daily Show boss Jon Stewart's America (The Book). (Oct.)
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The funnyman host of Comedy Central’s The Colbert Report rants about things that are wrong with America, offering his “knee jerk beliefs” on everything from the liberal media to environmentalists. If we continue to secularize Christmas, he screeches, former carolers will become wandering, alcoholic bums, and insects will grow into giant, munching minivans. He advocates legalizing performance-enhancing drugs for athletes, since sports are entertainment. Taking on a blowhard persona, he attacks atheists—how could a god exist who created a group that so pisses him off? Atheists are more hated than gays, to whom we at least entrust our hair. Interspersed with Colbert’s shrill tirades are the voices of other characters, notably the more modulated tones of God, who claims to be fair since he does not intercede in the outcome of sports on which he bets. Patriotic drums, a mariachi band, and other music accompanies this hilarious audio. Colbert fans will approve. --Whitney Scott --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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His humor is stupid, much like his character. It's not meant to be read in one sitting, though. Margin and footnotes are allusive of the TV show's segment The Word. Colbert's humor is far different from his counterpart, Jon Stewart in that Colbert assumes the character (or caricature) of the people with whom he disagrees the most. Stewart in much more surfacely confrontational.
I recommend the book. It's funny. Hilariously funny. But don't expect sharp wit. It's an in-your-face satire of the conservative ideal.
Colbert's basic shtick is that he is a conservative nutjob. He does it so well that some conservatives really do believe he's on their side. Of course, it's all satire; he's actually a progressive in very thin disguise.
Another important part of his shtick is that he's an egomaniac. He manages to combine these two elements quite deftly. He portrays a white male Catholic (which apparently he really was as a little boy) who has incredibly confused concepts of reality, religion, politics, and just about everything else.
The format of the book is also interesting. It has certain recurring "advertising" items, a segment entitled "Stephen Speaks for Me: A chance for average Americans to agree with what I think." Each chapter starts with a prologue shaped into an American flag, with one word where the field of stars would be, and all caps red print making up the stripes on the white background. He IS America, you see! There are marginal notes and footnotes that are quite as funny as the main text. There are two pages of stickers, one of flags to use for marginal comments, and one of stickers to put on other books to grant them "The Stephen T. Colbert for the Literary Excellence." (Yes, that superfluous article is in there.) There are fake games and quizzes and puzzles, and generally plenty of opportunity to have fun in the mad, mad, mad Colbert Nation.
There are also some real insights, so beware if you thought it was all just for laughs. You may find yourself laughing at something which is really too true to be funny, the way zen masters hit you upside the head.
I love this book.