God knows David Javerbaum is blessed with a good sense of humor. He was a head writer and executive producer for “The Daily Show,” and in
The Last Testament
(Simon & Schuster, $23.99), he tries to do for monotheism what Jon Stewart does for politics. Presented as “A Memoir by God,” the book comes divided into chapters and numbered verses like the Bible, if the Bible were narrated by Mel Brooks on crack-laced manna. It’s a bawdy circus of theological vaudeville — Shadrach, Meshach and To-bed-we-go! — determined to sacrifice every sacred cow on the altar of farce. This Lord is a Lord hungry for laughs but wracked by insecurities, troubled by “wrath-management issues.” “Like Garbo,” He says, “I had begun in silence, made the transition to talking, and now, increasingly, just wanted to be left alone.”
But with a little encouragement from His agent, He has no trouble “creating a telleth-all.” “I never give myself anything I cannot handle,” He says in one of many clever turns of phrase. As Javerbaum runs through a manic revision of the Old and New Testaments, a great multitude of revelations pours forth, many sharpened to skewer fundamentalist Christians for their supposed anti-intellectualism and homophobia. The first residents of the Garden of Eden, for instance, were Adam and Steve. “In the morning,” God says, “they grew embarrassed, and cloaked themselves in fig leaves; these constituting the entirety of their fall collection.” Kicked out of the Garden, they supported themselves “through foraging and occasional freelance work.” The alpha and the omega of Javerbaum’s comedy are deadpan silliness and startlingly graphic sexual gags, which no fig leaf could dress up for a family newspaper.
God uses “The Last Testament” as an opportunity to correct a number of misinterpretations in the Bible. Noah, for instance, wasn’t instructed to take two of “every” animal, but to take two of “any” animal. “I recommended dogs,” He says, “but I left the choice to Noah; for I have never been a cat God.” And Jesus — “a classic middle child” — was born in a “manger” because somebody misunderstood His instructions to contact the “manager.” Thou shalt laugh no matter how strained these jokes are.
A chapter on modern-day celebrities, “Glossy Ones,” is full of insider Hollywood “godsip”: “I have seen Paris Hilton lost in thought; it takes but one.” A brief selection of “Godlibs” makes a divine party game. And it’s fun to catch up on all God’s faves: “Second favorite painting: Campbell’s Soup Cans, by Andy Warhol. So much soup!”