Stewart’s Humor Transfers Smoothly to Literature

Stewarts Humor Transfers Smoothly to Literature

John Montagno

Stewart's Humor Transfers Smoothly to Literature

“Earth : A Visitors Guide to the Human Race” is the latest book by Jon Stewart and his team of talented writers from “The Daily Show.” Following on from the success of “America (The Book): A Citizens Guide To Democracy Inaction”, Earth is written as a mock text book/encyclopedia setting out to explain humans, our history, culture and peculiarities to visiting aliens if they were to arrive on earth after our extinction, but with the normal Daily Show twist.

Where do we come from? Who created us? Why are we here? These questions have puzzled us since the dawn of time, but when it became apparent to Jon Stewart and the writers of “The Daily Show” that the world was about to end, they embarked on a massive mission to write a book that summed up the human race: What we looked like; what we accomplished; our achievements in society, government, religion, science and culture — all in a span of approximately 256 pages with lots of color photos, graphs and charts.

After two weeks of hard work, they had their book. “Earth (The Book)” is the definitive guide to our species. With their trademark wit, irreverence, and intelligence, Stewart and his team will posthumously answer all of life’s most hard-hitting questions, completely unburdened by objectivity, journalistic integrity, or even accuracy.

Jon Stewart  seeks to expand his audience to aliens who might land on earth after the extinction of the human race and be puzzled over the artifacts we’ve left behind. “Greetings… on behalf of not only ourselves, but the entire Viacom family,” he writes in this laugh-out-loud, rollicking social satire. In place of skits there are elaborate, color illustrations accompanied by captions written with his trademark deadpan humor; for instance, a photo of a mother and baby-elephant holds the caption, “advances in contraception and industrialized food production allowed modern couples to have fewer offspring, while leaving the total weight of families constant.” Nothing is off-limits here, not even Benjamin Franklin, whose pithy saying, “Nothing is certain but death and taxes”, is expanded upon by Stewart.  The book ends with a plea to the aliens to reconstruct the human race from DNA in the hope that, with guidance from the visitors, “we could overcome the baser aspects of our nature… and give this planet the kind of caretakers it deserves,” revealing the tears behind Stewart’s clown.

“Earth (The book)” works best when it follows the most successful formula of The Daily Show, subtly displaying the idiosyncrasies of various ideologies, be they religious, political, socio-economical or just our overindulgence in pop culture and celebrity. Even with its obvious goal of using humor to show just how silly many of the customs and beliefs we have would appear to aliens, do not be surprised if you end up gaining some handy knowledge along the way.

“Earth (The Book): A Visitors Guide to the Human Race” is not as laugh out funny as “America: The Book”, but many found it as a smarter and wittier read, relaying on the reader to see the bigger picture of the world around them and how the media has forced people to take many things to seriously. Politics was covered heavily in the previous book, so this one largely skirts the issue, instead taking aim at science, religion, civilization, and history.

The book is visually stunning, in the style of an old fashioned hardback coffee table book. It is packed full of illustrations, infographics, and photos, produced to the same high quality as the graphics from “The Daily Show.”  Like an encyclopedia, it is the perfect format to quickly pick up and read a few pages from for a quick giggle, rather than reading from end to end in a sitting.

Fans of Stewart’s previous book or of “The Daily Show” will already be accustomed to this style of humor and will love this book immensely. Its mixture of irreverent humor with a serious undertone is one of the many things that fans love about Jon’s show and this style has been wonderfully transferred into literary format.