Wednesday, May 24, 2017

I Am America (And So Can You!) - Stephen Colbert

I Am America (And So Can You!)I Am America (And So Can You!) is my second foray into the audiobook world and I have to say, I liked it a lot better than my first.  The reason why is simple: it's actually read by Stephen Colbert.  Now, Colbert didn't write the book on his own, any more than he wrote his signature show The Colbert Report on his own.  But that he reads it means that the entire things is read in the "Stephen Colbert" character that made him so famous.  (Ah, those were the days.  He's much lamer on his new show.)

And because the book is written for the Colbert character, it's both ridiculous and terrifying at the same time.  Ridiculous because it's such a funny satire about the world and how some people think about it, pointing out fallacies in logic while earnestly sounding like Colbert really means what he's saying.  It's terrifying because some people actually think like this.  Among the things Colbert brings up are building a wall along the border (high enough that, to bake on top of it, you'd have to use the high-altitude instructions) or possibly a long front porch staffed by every old person in America, who can yell at illegal immigrants to get off their yards, because Social Security shouldn't be a thing and old people should have to work until they die.  He says that any religious movement whose leader's name isn't recognized by Microsoft Word can't be a threat to the only good religion, Catholicism.  He talks about the sin of homosexuality and how black people should just learn to be white in order to solve racism.

Colbert, again, doesn't actually mean any of this, because it's satire.  But some people actually do mean the things they say that fall into these categories, and more.  This book came out in 2007, but I think it's probably clear that, ten years later, all of this is just as relevant, and possibly even more relevant than it was during the Obama presidency.  But in the way of all excellent satires, Colbert can sound completely earnest while, with just the right emphasis and placement of words, pointing out how bat-shit crazy this all actually is.  It's also extremely easy to listen to.  Colbert is a great narrator, something that was evident on his show.  He always had such great monologues there, and while there were visuals and graphics to enhance that experience, I think the book packs just as much of a punch without them.  (The print version might have had pictures, but as I listened to the audiobook version, I can't say for sue.)

This was a great book to listen to while running, funny but one that I could tune out when necessary without missing too much.  Also, it's not just Colbert reading; each chapter ends with a segment called "Stephen Speaks for Me" which is put forth by another character such as a cow, a little kid, your neighbor at a sports stadium, or your soulmate.  Each of these characters is narrated by a different voice actor, which gives some more dimension to the book as well, while managing to be just as pointedly satirical as the main body of the book.

Overall, and excellent listen!  I'd definitely reach for more in this category in the future.

5 stars out of 5.

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