It’s not a huge secret that I’m a fan of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, right? I guess it might be if you don’t know me but I’m telling you now: I’m a fan of the show. Naturally, I enjoyed America (The Book): A Citizen’s Guide to Democracy Inaction so I guess it’s not a big shocker that I super enjoyed Earth (The Book): A Visitor’s Guide to the Human Race.
Earth is set up like a text book, obviously a faux text book, with a sometimes scientific and usually hilarious tone. The whole idea is that we’re reading a book meant for aliens, written by Stewart and his writers, since we’ll all be extinct when they get here. They manage to touch on everything from science, to culture, to nature, to religion and social interaction and so on and so on… the thing that it doesn’t touch too heavily upon is the whole political spectrum of our country and that’s, presumably, because America already did that. Instead, Earth focuses on civilizations (speaking of which, shoutout to the new game, woo!), evolution, anatomy, archaeology, philosophy and the like.
So if you enjoy Jon Stewart’s brand of humor, you’ll enjoy this book. The deadpan, wise-cracking brand of hilarity Stewart dominates is prevalent throughout the book, and while you might not shoot milk from your nostrils with glee after every page, you’ll definitely chuckle from beginning to end. You’ll probably smile a lot. There’s a great spin put on just about everything and while I could go on about how the pages are set up (it’s not the kind of book you’d sit down and read from end to end, it’s kind of a coffee table open-to-a-random-page-and-laugh sort of set up) and yadda yadda, I won’t. I’ll just highlight some of the things I found most hilarious. Okay? Okay.
The faux statistics are fantastic and the charts are just hilarious. I loved the “Time We Were Willing to Wait for a Baked Potato in 1900: 8 Hours in 1900 to 1 second in 2010” chart. Oh and Lifetime Consumption of First Slices of Wedding Cake? 2.1! Duh. The Periodic Table of the Synthetic was brilliant as well, listing everything from G(Gummi) to DD(Silicone) to Wo (Wite-Out). The FAQs (Future Alien Questions) were DELIGHTFUL. I won’t even get into them because they’re DELIGHTFUL, read ‘em!
A terrifyingly nude Larry King is used for an anatomical lesson (red suspender and all), presumably replacing the disturbingly naked Supreme Court Justices of the last book. Why not? (No, don’t answer that, I know why not.) I loved the description of work here, “’that which we didn’t want to do, but had to, if we didn’t want to eat dirt” and a reference to the Grand Canyon being “the biggest rift in Arizona not involving Mexicans”. I especially loved the Mr. Potato Head illustrated guide to the senses (“whose sensory organs could be quickly removed and stored in his ass”).
I think if aliens did land here and they had an awesome sense of humor, they’d learn a lot from this book… like sarcasm and how to put on pants and tons of other goodies tucked within the delightful pages. I’ll warn you of this though: don’t go in expecting this to be as riotously funny as America was, because while it IS great, I do think it was full of things that are obviously fillers and alternately brilliant and sometimes bland jokes. But! The pros definitely outweigh any cons here and I thoroughly enjoyed this.
Image: Grand Central Publishing