Stephen Colbert’s I Am America (An So Can You!) is best described as an accompaniment or crib notes to his popular Comedy Central show The Colbert Report. Both his show and book can stand alone, but much of the book’s humor is best understood if you are a fan of his show. If you hate his show and humor though, odds are you would never read this book and you can stop reading this review.
I Am American (And So Can You!) reads exactly like watching The Report. Chapters are broken down into popular topics, little side comments are written in the margins and Colbert’s familiar tone is omnipresent. While the television show focuses more on daily events and special guests, the book format allows him to voice opinions and rants on broader topics that may not fit the structure of The Colbert Report. One of the highlights of the book is the inclusion of pictures, graphics and games associated with each chapter’s theme. It is a nice way to break up the text and while it could be viewed as just filler, I feel it enhances the prose and makes his jokes funnier.
While most of the novel is great, it does lag somewhat towards the end. The chapters on “Old People” and “Sex and Dating” are hilarious but chapters on “Race” and “Hollywood” feel forced as if he thinks these are topics that need to be lampooned but in which the humor is not fully flushed out.
All in all, it’s pretty simple. Either you get Colbert’s humor or you don’t. Either you like political satire or you don’t. I personally hate politics, but I like Colbert because he calls out people and challenges the ridiculousness of our current system. If you love The Colbert Report and watch it every night (with or without writers) then chances are you’ll like this book. It’s a quick read and doesn’t ask the reader to think too much. You can read a chapter at a time or the whole book in one sitting if you desire. While the book probably doesn’t have any second read value, it’s a book that can be passed along between friends and discussed at dinner parties or book clubs.