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Dr. Denis’ Bid For Oprah-Dom

'Rescue Me' star embroiders elaborate riffs on what's wrong with America.

At first, “Why We Suck: A Feel Good Guide to Staying Fat, Loud, Lazy and Stupid” by (Dr.) Denis Leary, the comedian and actor, seems like just a new presentation of the content of his early 1990s stand-up specials. But after the first few chapters, Leary makes this book a wholly original and elaborately funny work.

Once Leary really digs into his Irish heritage with a series of recipes that are supposedly his mom’s and all contain tons of butter, cabbage and potatoes, the book really starts to take off. And “Why We Suck” really hits the stratosphere with Chapter 13, “Grande Vente Mocha Oprah Chai,” an unexpected tribute to the power of Oprah Winfrey, especially considering the source -- with the basis of most of Leary’s comedy being picking apart anything that smacks of being touchy-feely or therapy-oriented.

Leary admires Oprah’s ability to “shame anyone into admitting the truth”: “I wanna drag a [Starbucks] barista onto Oprah and have her cross-examine him or her and I know that within minutes she will have an open admittance that Chai and Vente and Breve and all that shiny sugary Starbuck smack is just an excuse to charge mo money mo money for what is -- in the end -- just another good cup of joe.”

In fact, the author is surprised to find that the search engine on Oprah’s website turns up more useful advice and information for guys than Google or even could dream of. And Leary doesn’t shy away from offering his own self-help prescriptions, telling guys exactly how to respond to the dreaded “Does my ass look fat?” question from their wife or girlfriend.

Leary hits many bases in “Why We Suck,” not just self-help gurus and Starbucks or restaurants dressing up their menus with lots of fancy language -- discrimination/racism/immigration, irresponsible parenting, child stars, Catholicism and pets, to name a few. About child stars, Leary says, “The annals of kids unleashed into the monster Hollywood machine who came out clean and still working on the adult side has two names on its list: Jodie Foster and Ron Howard. Case closed.”

And about the superiority of dogs to cats as pets, Leary looks to … Eliot Spitzer. “When all of his trusted aides had fallen by the wayside … when even his wife had given up … the paparazzi caught him out for a leisurely walk along Park Avenue with his one and only remaining confidant -- his dog. His dog could care less who he hired to [screw] … ”

While Leary’s distinct comic point of view and a few old chestnuts of his past shows appear in “Why We Suck,” they’re only there to frame a wealth of original material that offers more than a few laugh-out-loud moments.




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