Happy (belated) 237th Birthday, America! You don’t look a day over 150. Aside from all the fireworks and stars & stripes bikinis, I can’t think of a better way to start off this most patriotic of months than with Stephen Colbert’s riot of a book: I am America (And So Can You!), the fictional life story of Colbert’s character on his show, The Colbert Report.
The Colbert Report is a satirical, late-night American comedy show in which Stephen Colbert plays a fictional anchorman, parodying conservative political pundit television programs. Colbert describes his character as a “well-intentioned, poorly informed, high-status idiot” and he describes his role as anchorman in these terms: “”I’m not a fan of facts. You see, facts can change, but my opinion will never change, no matter what the facts are.” A hilarious dissection of hypocrisy and just plain-old ridiculousness in politics, the show is spot-on, the character is almost too convincing, and the book, if possible, is even better.
I Am America (And So Can You!) is the fictional life story of Colbert’s persona’s “American Childhood,” “American Adolescence” and “American Maturity” featuring chapters on all the important issues such as “Religion,” “Old People,” and “Animals.”
The book is, of course, dedicated “to America.”
In addition to the regular, run-of the mill black type centered on white page, there are also
- red “notes” made in the margins to serve as humorous counterpoints (such as “I made this quote up”)
- a “how to read this book” instructional section
- “Stephen Speaks for Me” pages between chapters– which he calls “a chance for average Americans to agree with what I think” (God himself even wrote one of these)
- stickers containing phrases such as “How True” and “I Think It, Stephen Says It” to remind readers “when they agreed with [him] most.”
- more of those “Stephen T. Colbert Award for the Literary Excellence” silver medallions that he has awarded this book
Why you should read it this July:
“I said on the very first episode of The Colbert Report that, together, I was going to change the world, and I’ve kept up my end of the bargain. But it’s not changing fast enough. Turns out, it takes more than thirty minutes a night to fix everything that’s destroying America, and that’s where this book comes in. It’s not just some collection of reasoned arguments supported by facts. That’s the coward’s way out.”
- Because July 1st is International Joke Day!
- Because even if you’re not American, there’s stuff in it for you! This Canadian gal, for instance, is not a happy camper this July. Why? Because the Ontario Endangered Species Act changes came into effect July 1st, changes which allow exemptions to industries and some species are losing protection as a result. Because people like me clearly need to read Colbert’s list of “Endangered Animals and Why They Are Unloved By God” to better understand these issues
- Because the Supreme Court FINALLY stopped using the type of beliefs Colbert’s satirical character spews, like “baby carrots are trying to turn me gay” (there’s a whole chapter of these in “Homosexuals”) and struck down the Defense of Marriage Act and Prop 8. A little late on the whole not being ass-backwards thing, but something to celebrate this month, for sure!
Because one of the leaders of this great and mighty country, Ronald Reagan, deemed July “National Ice Cream Month,” and the third Sunday of the month “National Ice Cream Day.” It’s summertime, the best time of year to sit outside and read funny books like this one while eating ice cream. Incidentally, Stephen Colbert also has a patriotic ice cream for you to enjoy whilst reading his words: Ben & Jerry’s “Americone Dream.”
- Because, seriously though (well, this book is anything but serious), what better time than during the month we celebrate our independence and freedom to get a healthy dose of satire and reflect on the pretty backwards things that are still influencing major decisions about human rights. And Colbert’s satire is so good it’s scary! You are in for some rolling on the floor laughter in the best possible way.