Like Kofi Annan, Larry Miller is one of the most irresistible comic personalities working today. Known for years as an actor, writer, comedian, and sexual pioneer, he's gained a new following as a cultural commentator and frequent guest on political shows. Now, in Spoiled Rotten America, he fixes his gaze on what's funny about our daily lives—which includes, roughly speaking, everything. From middle-aged drinking ("When you're in your twenties, you can drink all night and bungee-jump off a bridge the next day. If I drank all night, I'd want to go off that bridge without the cord") to the excesses of our eating habits ("This is why the world hates us: the size of the portions we order. Thank God they've never shown us eating on Al Jazeera—that would be the end of it"), Miller finds the silver lining of absurdity within every black cloud.
Ultimately, though, Spoiled Rotten America is more than just the average yukfest. It's an insightful, and surprisingly heartfelt, plea for us to notice what's best and worst about ourselves. "The American pendulum only swings to extremes," he writes. "The news is on all day, but we know less and less; there's music in every mall, but we don't hear it; everyone has a phone but nothing to say. The chubbiest of us have the strictest diets, because we can't learn to modulate and moderate. It's all or nothing. One bite of a cookie, and suddenly you're on a plane to Vegas with a hooker. To the Cranky Nitpickers of America—a club I'd join in a second if I weren't already its president—it's long been understood that the world is going to Hell in a handbasket.
"What better time for a collection of seventeen comic essays?"
What better time indeed.
Positioned as a smart volume on modern life in these here United States, these 17 essays from comedian Miller (whose career highlights include roles in Seinfeld and Waiting for Guffman) often read instead like a collection of random thoughts in need of an editor. Fortunately for Miller, he's got a fine-tuned comic sensibility and a winning personality, and his object-"to be funny"-is realized to fine effect. To find a subject, on the other hand, Miller has cast a wide net: the "contrasts" and "opposites" that make contemporary American culture like a "pendulum that only swings to extremes." As such, he takes on varied but familiar topics such as politics, movies, family and alcohol, with forays into the entertainment industry and multiculturalism, in a haphazard, digressive manner. In "What It's Like to Be in Show Business," for example, Miller turns the spotlight on the Emmy Awards, only to deliver a roundabout discussion of foot massages, formal attire, the Titanic, product placement in movies and TV shows, fictional 555 telephone numbers, and swag bags. Though almost entirely unenlightening, Miller's thoughts are often entertaining, written in an arch, conversational tone that fans will recognize from his stand-up; those fans, along with patient and open-minded readers, will find Miller's authorial debut a diverting pleasure.
Customer ReviewsSee All
I love his stand up and never thought his writing could be so deep! Larry Miller really brings himself to this book, and everyone should read it!