WHAT: Audiobook of famed writer, producer, Daily Show resident black expert
LABEL: Hyperion (2009)
GOOD IF YOU LIKE: Black comedy, but not that kind of black comedy
WHERE TO FIND IT: In stores, online/Audible, and in my case, the local library
If you've watched television in the past 20 years you have consumed the work of Larry Wilmore. He's produced The P.J.s. He wrote for The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and Sister, Sister. Heck, he's even been on The Office in that legendary "Diversity Day" episode, and as a correspondent on The Daily Show. While that may seem like a strange opener, it's really a good way to describe this book/CD.
Through three discs, Wilmore presents his book to you and it's a great chunk of funny, if a little disjointed. Chapters include letters to the NAACP asking to replace "African-American" with "chocolate," a few trials and events which nerds would identify as self-insertion fanfic, and numerous satirical essays on what America needs to improve race relations. The best example of the latter can best be summed up by the track's title, "Bring Back The Shetland Negro," which delves into the likes of Webster, Arnold, and to a lesser extent, Urkel.
Considering Wilmore has a bit about how Black History Month is a couple of weeks too long, you might not be at all surprised to hear he explores the n-bomb, adds an Angry Black Church Guide, waxes on how "Brothers don't see UFOs," and has a fake radio show about giving your baby a "nizzname." I can best sum up the whole experience as a mashup of The Daily Show, what I presume an African-American Studies course to be like, and a dash more Jonathan Swift.
While extremely self-referential, it's really funny and you're probably going to laugh a lot, ethnicity be damned, unless you're basically out of touch with the fact that white people write like this and black people write like this or whatever. The audio CD comes on 3 discs and totals about 3.3 hours. Unlike Stephen Colbert's book, this doesn't feel like some artifact so much as it seems that it could really have benefited in front of being performed to a live audience. The entire one-man show is an excellent performance, and here's hoping Wilmore has more plans to do additional recorded works in the future.