Alec Baldwin’s new book sends up Trump– as if tragic farce could be made funny!
Parodying someone outlandish and unbalanced is a difficult task, but Alec Baldwin and Kurt Anderson were ready for the challenge. Running with the success of Baldwin’s President Trump impersonation on Saturday Night Live, Baldwin and Anderson partnered up to write You Can’t Spell America Without Me: The Really Tremendous Inside Story of My Fantastic First Year as President Donald J. Trump – a satire of Trump’s first year in office.
For those who have seen Baldwin’s performances, it is easy to guess what’s in the book. There are plenty of Ivanka Trump jokes, cracks on White House staffers, comparisons of other world leaders, and digs at the “fake news.” The authors don’t rely on these jokes for laughs, but know it wouldn’t be a true Trump parody without them.
In the book, “Trump” says, “I’m going to tell you things they don’t want me to say as president, not in the speeches or the press conferences or even on Twitter – and I can do that here because I’m not writing as the president, okay, but as Donald Trump, just another American citizen who also happens to be president, so…freedom of expression, First Amendment, totally honest, no holds barred, the whole truth, nothing but the truth, all for you and us, the great American people.”
This is true – for the most part. The writers do a great job of emulating Trump’s cadence. There are just enough pauses, short phrases,, and standard Trump-words to paint a picture for the reader, but not so much as to make unreadable. However, they seem to play it safe by illustrating Trump as a delusional simpleton and skip over the deranged old-white-guy moments we’ve been watching for years.
The book is strong when covering the election through the first hundred days in office. So much has happened over the past year that readers may experience a little PTSD and say, “That happened in March? It feels like three years ago.” Events from the summer and fall are not as bold and can feel a little flat, but this is a challenge in writing a parody of something that changes every single day.
A favorite part for everyone will be the photos. Alec Baldwin acts as Trump in different situations: playing with toys in the oval office, playing golf, and doing a little “Hannity and Chill” (as Ivanka calls it). They are hilarious and an over-the-top treat.
The saying goes, “If you don’t laugh, you’ll cry.” The past year in politics has been trying, and Baldwin and Anderson inject humor into the day-to-day political insanity.
Gregg Shapiro is the author of Fifty Degrees (Seven Kitchens, 2016), selected by Ching-In Chen as co-winner of the Robin Becker Chapbook Prize. Other books by Shapiro include the short story collections How to Whistle (Lethe Press, 2016) and Lincoln Avenue (Squares and Rebels Press, 2014), the chapbook GREGG SHAPIRO: 77 (Souvenir Spoon Press, 2012), and the poetry collection Protection (Gival Press, 2008).
He has work forthcoming in the anthology Reading Queer: Poetry in a Time of Chaos (Anhinga Press, 2018). An entertainment journalist, whose interviews and reviews run in a variety of regional LGBT and mainstream publications and websites, Shapiro lives in Fort Lauderdale, Florida with his husband Rick and their dog Coco.
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