The comedian’s twisted views on spirituality.
Politics, his family and his neuroses used to be the meat and potatoes of Black’s stand-up act, but lately he’s been increasingly focused on religion. Thus it should come as no surprise to his ever-increasing fan base that the follow-up to his bestselling—and quite funny—debut, Nothing’s Sacred (2005), compiles 42 essays riffing on everything from praying on airplanes to suicide bombers. Unlike his always-solid stage routine, however, the proceedings here are hit-or-miss. Looking at his words on the printed page, readers will realize how important Black’s enraged delivery is to his act. The book certainly has its moments. “The God Lists: God the Father/God the Bother” (one list for each) features Black at his blackest: Among the 23 reasons he doesn’t believe in God, we find beets, Nazis, herpes and American Idol. But such spot-on moments are few and far between. The book’s worst transgression is the inclusion of the script from a critically lambasted play performed in 1981 by Black and fellow Yale Drama grad Mark Linn-Baker (better known from TV’s Perfect Strangers). “I know it’s strange to go into a play at this point,” acknowledges the author, who was a playwright for years before The Daily Show made him famous, “but it is truly the best way to conclude this book. Or maybe it isn’t. I really don’t know.” Black is a brilliant performer and a biting social commentator, but based on the evidence in this disappointing volume, he’s not much of a playwright…or a book author.
A can’t-miss comedic performer delivers a mediocre book.