Monday, January 25, 2016

Review: I Know I Am, But What Are You?

I've been a huge fan of Samantha Bee's work on the Daily Show for years. She's always had such amazing delivery--she slips the joke in like a dagger, working it into innocuous-seeming conversations in a way that almost leaves you wondering whether she meant to say that, or it just slipped out. She's a brilliant comedian, and so when my wife saw her book in a used bookstore, she grabbed it for me because she knew how much I liked her.

The book was...a little different. It was funny, don't get me wrong, but it straddled that same line between "funny" and "deeply uncomfortable" that made some episodes of 'Fawlty Towers' pretty much impossible to watch. Bee has a chapter about her teenage years, where she was so deeply socially awkward she couldn't even get raped. She has a chapter about her hideous taste in clothes and her ugly hands. She has a chapter about how awful she looks naked. She has a lot of chapters that go well past "self-deprecating" and into "self-loathing". In short, the things she says in this book are generally the sort of thing you only expect people to say about themselves with hordes of angry teenage Communists standing behind them with guns.

(Yes! A little Cultural Revolution humor just to liven things up! It's that bleak of a book.)

Again, I don't want to suggest it wasn't funny, because it really was at times. There's a very amusing explanation of the book's back cover, which features her re-enacting sex acts with her Barbie dolls (her mother had absolutely no fucks to give about propriety and figured the sooner her kid was educated about sex, the easier her life would be) and an extremely funny explanation of how she met her husband (they performed together in a touring Sailor Moon show for kids). It's not without its charms. But this is a bit on the bleak side for me, and I laughed at 'Super'.

In short, read at your own risk and don't be surprised if you simultaneously want to give Samantha Bee a hug afterwards and are too icked out by her to do so. I actually think that was what she was going for.

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