“No, this is different,” he said. “It doesn’t suck.”
So I downloaded a few of the episodes via podcast, found them entertaining, and I’ve been listening ever since.
As is often the case when I find something new to enjoy, I wind up seeking out the other works of those involved, a task which led me to The Book of Vice: Very Naughty Things (and How to Do Them), a 2007 tome by Wait Wait‘s host, Peter Sagal. Sagal, who is unfailingly charming and entertaining on the radio, brings all of that wit to this book, which I read straight through in just a couple of days. (For me, these days, that’s quite a feat.)
The book is simply an examination of all those things that everybody knows about, a lot of people do, and nobody wants to admit to. Lying, gambling, excessive consumption, and several chapters devoted to different aspects of our baser instincts make for a very fast read. Sagal manages to combine a journalistic approach with a comedian’s, interviewing people involved in each of the different “Vices” that get a chapter of their own in order to better understand the mindset that leads a person to these past times and the reasons that everybody is, at least a little, curious about them.
But Sagal doesn’t just give us a dry, scholarly look at these things. He’s a very funny writer as well, with puns, analogies and turns of phrase that make you laugh at stories that could be close to tragic inn other circumstances. There’s something about his writing style that reminds me of Dave Barry, only with less bits about exploding toilets and more bits about people who have been around sex so much that they’ve gotten bored with it.
The book is funny, fun to read, and perhaps most importantly, it does give you an opportunity for self-examination. Even if the vice you’re reading about is something you’ve never done, it will make you laugh at the presentation and, ultimately, decide that it’s probably a good thing you’ve stayed away from it. If you’re a fan of Sagal’s radio show and you’re not afraid to poke around the underbelly of existence, the book is well worth reading.