Where Al Franken’s’s last book was Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them was funny, educational, and inspiring, his new endeavor, The Truth (with Jokes) is scary and a little depressing.
Don’t get me wrong– there are a few sections in the book that are really funny, but those parts seem to be scarce. One such hilarious comes a Al realizes that one of his favorite people, Sean Hanity seems to completely ignore any attempts to thwart his lies. He goes on as if they were truth regardless of the facts. Thus, Al takes a different approach to fighting them. Al debunks a list of Sean Hanity’s accusations of John Kerry being a “flip flopper”, and after each one makes up a lie about Sean Hanity, as Al see this as a better way to combat him. Now, the individual lies aren’t all that funny in and of themselves, but Al seem to have great execution in this section. Comics often talk about timing as being the most important aspect of doing comedy well. I used to think this rule only applied to the spoken word, but Al managed to keep me laughing through this entire chapter. Just as my laughter subsided, all would present another lie about Hanity that would start my laughter al over again.
But alas, most of the book wasn’t very funny. Certainly there were places that it was obvious that it was supposed to be funny, and many that invoked a grin, but nothing like what I have come to expect from Al Franken. Maybe his 3 hour a day radio show has drained his previously overstocked supply of really funny jokes.
Also, the book seems to be lacking any inspirational call to action. There is a lot of time spent on how much Bush and Company screw up, and how their policies are driving our country off a cliff, but almost none on how we can move forward as a party.
But, don’t think that this is a bad book, or that it isn’t worth reading. It is really an eye opener in many ways. Al tells us of the unethical, greedy adventures of Jack Abramoff and his friends in Congress. He exposes the real reasons Kerry Lost in 2004 Most prominently he shows how badly the Bush administration screwed up in Iraq. Prior to Al’s well cited explanation, I was under the assumption that although Bush led us into an unjustified war with Iraq, he had done as good a job as an would at the execution of the war. Boy was that wrong. By closing his eyes and ears to the advice of many really smart people on both sides of the political spectrum, Bush fought a war based on positive-thinking rather than real strategy based in reality.
My advice is, borrow this book from a friend or your local library. At least wait until it comes out in paperback. I do recommend reading it before the 2006 elections, as it really is a valuable political resource and its a quick read (I finished it in just over two days). But, if you’re looking for a good laugh, you’re probably better off turning on The Daily Show or cracking open the latest edition of the Onion.