Less an actual book than a return to the print-media platform by a brand most familiar from television.
“It’s a joke book,” admits Maher of this sequel to New Rules: Polite Musings from a Timid Observer (2005). As an alphabetized collection of bits from his “New Rules” TV segments (though some never aired), this book is meatier than a collection of top-10 lists from another TV brand. Yet the author acknowledges that he deserves credit neither for the concept (his program’s head writer conceived “New Rules” as a running feature) or for “so many of the jokes in this book” (he has staff writers for that). Consequently, the book is a compilation of TV bits that have aired since the last compilation (which means some might be six years old) and some that didn’t make the airtime cut for a variety of reasons, aimed at dedicated Maher fans who want all their favorites in one volume or at those who enjoy Maher when they see him but want to see how much they’ve missed. Example: “New Rule: The White House doesn’t have to release the dead Bin Laden photos, but don’t pretend we can’t take it. We’ve seen pictures of Britney Spears’s vagina getting out of a car. Television has desensitized us to violence, and porn has desensitized us to people getting shot in the eye.” Though Maher’s perspective on celebrity culture, marijuana, masturbation and China will be familiar to fans, some of the longer (rarely longer than a page and a half), more ambitious pieces reflect the sensibility he shares with Jon Stewart, with a cutting-edge humor that slices through journalistic hypocrisy—e.g., “We don’t need a third party, we need a first party. This is because we don’t have a left and a right party in this country anymore. We have a center-right party and a crazy party. Over the last thirty-odd years, Democrats have moved to the right, and the right has moved into a mental hospital.”
Funny stuff for TV viewers with short attention spans.