So Can He
Stephen Colbert makes a triumphant return to publishing with "America Again"
By Michael Shashoua / Jester Editor-In-Chief
Stephen Colbert’s new book, “America Again: Re-becoming the Greatness We Never Weren't,” published October 2, probably contains more laughs per page than most other comedy books even can.
“America Again” is an intricately laid out, densely footnoted satire that speaks directly in the voice of Colbert’s right-wing persona as he plays on the “Colbert Report,” in the way that “I Am America (And So Can You!)” did. There are chapters on jobs, energy, healthcare, elections, Wall Street and justice. To load the book with so many bits, all in the voice of what Colbert’s character might write in a book giving his opinion on any of these topics, all of the show’s writing staff took part, and they are credited.
Each little graphic, sidebar or illustration is a joke of its own in “America Again.” Take for example, in the chapter on energy, “Stephen Colbert’s Deeply Personal Anecdote,” where he tells a misguided attempt at a heartwarming story of how he got his wife an engagement ring topped with a big lump of coal – because his love will supposedly last for the millions of years it will take for that coal to turn into a diamond. It’s illustrated with a picture of Colbert looking serious and thoughtful over a coffee cup, that seals the joke just right.
Colbert’s “Justice” chapter alone contains several high-concept illustrated bits, like a good-cop, bad-cop routine that gets a little weird, a fun play on lawyer jokes constructed like a manual and even a take on how the touring “Bodies” exhibition might be a deterrent to crime, at least in China, anyway.
Obviously, Colbert and his staff put a lot of work into “America Again,” and that may have taken its toll – the closing chapter is a monologue by a drunken and deranged Stephen, who’s ended up drunk texting Wolf Blitzer and toasting “Ronald Reagan and Abraham Lincoln riding horses together in Heaven.” Although Colbert’s roots are Second City rather than National Lampoon, “America Again” carries forward the sensibility that the Lampoon’s Doug Kenney put forward in the glory days of that magazine, with its imaginative satirical illustrated spreads and features (see the collection “Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead: The Writers and Artists Who Made the National Lampoon Insanely Great.”)
“America Again” will have readers (or as Colbert himself would insist, buyers) wanting to share the jokes and pass it around to friends, which Stephen would not approve of.
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© 2005-2017 Michael Shashoua