On the Road to Greatness

I’d Rather We Got Casinos: And Other Black Thoughts by Larry Wilmore

Reading Challenge: A book written by a comedian.

First of all, I want to say that I am a huge fan of Larry Wilmore and The Nightly Show. Since Jon Stewart left The Daily Show there is no better place to go for a comedic, thoughtful, sane take on the utter insanity gripping our world. Larry’s correspondents are almost universally wicked smart and hilarious (Ricky Velez mostly just makes me feel old, and the normally-great Mike Yard occasionally comes down with a case of it’s-not-a-problem-for-me-so-it’s-not-a-problem-itis, but those are the exceptions as far as I’m concerned. Holly Walker, especially, you are a goddess.), and as for Larry himself, I firmly believe his White House Correspondents Dinner appearance earlier this year will be vindicated by history. I thought it was brilliant.

I remember exactly when Larry became my favorite. It was when the Supreme Court officially ruled in favor of gay marriage. Jon Stewart’s Daily Show delivered a funny-if-not-top-ten-episodes take on the various panicked reactions of conservative pundits to the victory. Larry threw a party, and it was great. I’m sad I couldn’t find a gif of the gay men’s chorus who opened the show.


He’s also overtly feminist and incredibly nerdy, and he’s been hitting it out of the park lately. If you haven’t watched his take on the death of Alton Sterling yet, go watch it. Right now. I’ll wait.


So I’m a huge fan of Larry and his show, and if you’re not watching it, you should be. That’s why it makes me sad to report that his book is only so-so. The book came out pre-Nightly Show, and is a collection of short takes on a variety of topics. Some of them were sort of shrug-worthy, and although I can’t pick out any examples right now, I felt like there was kind of a “Dad humor” to a lot of the book. Some bits were genuinely funny and sharp (“If Not an Apology, at Least a ‘My Bad,'” and his theory about why black people don’t see UFOs). His take on Sudoku, no words wasted, made me giggle aloud on my morning commute (sitting on the bus, folks, don’t worry, I’m not reading and driving). The field guide to Angry Black Churches was hilarious, as was Give Us the Superdome. The letters to the NAACP, eh, hit and miss. Overall, while uneven it’s not a bad book by any stretch of the imagination. It’s also possible my standards were just a little bit too high because the show is one of my favorite things ever.

If you’re new to Larry, go ahead and read the book, see what tickles your funny bone, then go watch the show, because you must. If you’re not new to Larry, just be prepared that what’s on the page is, for once, not as full of greatness as what’s on the screen.

Recommended pairing: clearly hard liquor, because you would need it to deal with the kind of topics Larry and his correspondents cover. Larry can be seen with whiskey when he’s not making fun of the booze (Trump vodka, White Russians) and I choose Scotch, because that’s what I know. Balvennie is a good choice.


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