As soon as you press play on the new collection of stories by former “Late Show” writer Jen Spyra and hear the familiar voice of Stephen Colbert reading the introduction (which he also wrote), you’ll quickly realize that you shouldn’t listen to this audiobook anywhere it’s not socially acceptable to laugh out loud. The stories in Big Time (8.5 hours) follow a somewhat predictable—but never tiresome—formula, starting with a familiar trope (a locked-room murder mystery, a bridal boot camp) and quickly veering off into absurdity, satire or both.
The star-studded cast of narrators adds to the enjoyment: The author is joined by Dan Stevens of “Downton Abbey” fame and actor-comedians Lauren Lapkus, Matt Rogers and Thomas Whittington. Stevens is particularly effective, as his posh British accent heightens the comedic effect of, for example, a satire of Raymond Briggs’ The Snowman, in which the little boy narrator gradually discovers that his magical companion is actually a foul-mouthed drunk. Spyra reads the title novella, a hilarious sendup of contemporary American culture as seen through the decidedly un-woke eyes of a time-traveling 1940s-era Hollywood starlet. If you’re desperately in search of a healthy dose of laughter, Big Time will do the trick.