Veteran standup comic and conservative essayist takes a shot at contemporary America.
Miller is an anomaly: a popular comic of the ’80s and ’90s who parlayed that success into a steady run of supporting roles in film (The Princess Diaries, Pretty Woman), and also a diehard conservative who’s extremely funny—with P.J. O'Rourke, that makes two. For the past few years, the bracingly misanthropic Miller has beefed up his résumé by contributing to neo-conservative house magazine the Weekly Standard, which seems to have sharpened his writing abilities enough for his first book to be more than the usual fare: i.e., there’s not too much warmed-over standup material and no sentences written in all caps to fill up space. The 17 pieces here form a mix of the mundane (“My Slacks at Sacks”), the profane (“Debbie Does Dallas II: The Quickening”) and the gaspingly hilarious ( “Five Levels of Drinking”); they hit the mark about two-thirds of the time. The points wander, though interestingly, as in “I’m Dreaming . . . of a White . . . Chris-er, Holidays,” which jumps from standard anti-PC bleating to some fairly sharp notes on subjects like Jews who pretend that Israel is the source of all the world’s problems (“Your soul is so torn you wouldn’t know your own head’s been cut off after the video takes Best Newcomer at the Al Jazeera Emmys”). Miller makes sure to include enough self-deprecating family humor—playing, as most married comics do, the clueless schlub whose spouse and children run rings around him—but he’s obviously not afraid of getting serious, whether in his political material or in one poignantly personal and saddening anecdote about racism.
Better-than-average fare from a comic-turned-author, but not nearly as cutting and funny as his standup material.