In some towns, people are afraid of the local serial killers. In this surrealist satire-comedy, residents are afraid they are the local serial killers.
There are more routes into Wigfield, the book, than there are into Wigfield, the town. The print edition includes portraits of the characters. The 2003 live performances can be seen in online clips posted by devoted fans. The audiobook is the recommended route into Wigfield, because it is performed by the three authors: satirical comedian Stephen Colbert, improvisational comedian Paul Dinello, and comedic actress Amy Sedaris.
There is only one route into Wigfield, and most people avoid it. Even the school bus changes routes so that the Wigfield children can not find it. Russell Hokes, an aspiring author who is documenting the town's struggles, says anyone driving through Wigfield will "drive faster to hoping to ignore what he has just seen." Cars break down, though, and it is through such accidents of fate that Hokes manages to tell Wigfield's story.
Wigfield is told by different townspeople, a chapter at a time. The three authors take turns narrating the chapters with so many different cadences and accents that it is difficult to believe there are only three people bringing these strange townspeople to life. Everyone has a different reason for living in Wigfield, and even those who want to leave can't figure out how to escape. An Amy Sedaris' character, Cinnamon, reflects on moving and helplessly wonders, "How am I supposed to move my mobile home?"
The established residents of Wigfield face more than the internal threats of serial killers, toxic waste, and three corrupt mayors. There is an external threat. The government has decided to pull down the dam where the people of Wigfield have illegally squatted, and the prospect of moving is something every resident will have to face. Cinnamon angrily speaks up for her town, arguing that Wigfield is more than "just a chain of porno shops, strip clubs, and used auto parts yards...it's pornographers, strippers, and people who sell used auto parts."
Russell Hokes' teenage murder of his grandmother demonstrates that he has a kinship to the other characters who downplay their own murders to avoid revealing that they are potential suspects for the current Wigfield Maniac. He bonds with the characters in order to take advantage of their hospitality and in the hopes that they will write his book for him, as he has no idea how to write a book and spends much of the book attempting to abandon his contract. The town latches on to Hokes as a potential savior. If his story can not save the town, the mayors reason, perhaps his story can convince the government that Wigfield is a town full of people deserving of eminent domain payments.
In "'Daily Show' Meets Second City in 'Wigfield' Tour", The Chicago Tribune's Nina Metz reported the idea came from a profile he did of a town while working on Comedy Central's Daily Show. She quotes Paul Dinello as explaining the authors' approach to the book." Because we had never written a book, we created a character who had never written a book and probably never read one." The April 27, 2003 article has a detailed history of the work the Colbert, Dinello, and Sedaris had done up until that point, and can be found on jerriblank.com, a fan site for the trio.
In addition to the inexperienced narrator, the town has three mayors, and Colbert, Dinello, and Sedaris are well-known for working as a collaborative trio. The familiar satire of The Colbert Report is displayed at in Wigfield, and fans will recognize Amy Sedaris' sense of hospitality that is flaunted in her 2006 entertaining guide I Like You. For readers who are fans of the authors, the book has hidden gems that sparkle in other works, such as their Comedy Central series Strangers with Candy.After listening to the audiobook, the next step is finding a copy of the printed book, where the authors pose in dramatic photographs of the characters, such as Paul Dinello lounging across a kindergartenish stage, holding an elaborately costumed rabbit. Wigfield is unlike a town anyone has ever experienced, so it follows that the audiobook is unlike any anyone has ever heard.
Publication InformationWigfield: The Can Do Town that Just May Not was written by Stephen Colbert, Paul Dinello, and Amy Sedaris. The audiobook was released by Highbridge Audio in April 2003. The ISBN is 1565117727. It is also available as an Audible download.
This article was originally published April 27, 2010 on Suite101.com, when I was the featured writer for audiobooks and ebooks.
Ally Sharp is a teacher, writer and editor, and technology trainer.