Book Report: Dirty Jokes and Beer by Drew Carey (1997)

Book coverWow, this book is almost thirty years old. I bought it at some point since then–the historical records (the blog here) are incomplete as to when, but the copy I have is a hardback without the dustjacket and has only the price marked in pencil on the frontspiece. The book, he acknowledges a with a smirk, is a bit of a money grab based on the popularity of his television show The Drew Carey Show during the Clinton administration.

Carey had been a standup comic from the middle eighties, and this show which ran for nine years in the 1990s into the 21st century. He concurrently appeared in an American version of Whose Line Is It Anyway? for about the same time, and he took over for Bob Barker on The Price Is Right seventeen years ago. I say this, amazed, because although I would have known him by site these almost three decades, I have never really seen much of his work whether the scripted sitcom, improv work, or standup routine. I had a picture of him as a bit of a schlub, a maybe smart everyman, but that’s not exactly been his schtick as far as I can tell.

This book has a tripartite structure. It has three sections: Dirty Jokes, which is sort of humorous essays/anecdotes/memoir; Beer, which is talking about The Drew Carey Show with some behind-the-scenes looks, responses to critics, working to thwart the will of the people in charge of standards and get dirty words and jokes onto the air; and Stories of the Unrefined, which are fictional (mostly) short stories based on Carey’s life and experiences in Cleveland and Las Vegas with a character named Drew Carey at the center. Dirty Jokes and Beer start each chapter with a dirty joke; as you might know, gentle reader, I do not get the vapors with dirty jokes (which began with “borrowing” my mother’s copy of the Frank O’Pinion dirty joke book and become sort of popular at North Jefferson Middle School for my vast store of off-color humor in 1985 to 21st century readings such as The World’s Best Dirty Jokes and Lecherous Limericks to watching and enjoying National Lampoon’s Dirty Movie). So a couple of the dirty jokes made me chuckle in my head.

However, the book is kinda meh aside from that. It offers some insights into the making of television, a la Jeopardy! or Star Trek Memories, but those books cover the material in greater depth. It’s got just a little biography, not enough to be compelling. And the fiction is the kind of material that I’d read by other college students when at the university in the writing program. Better than some of the self-published books by local authors that I read in writing style and quality, but the slice-of-life incidents leave me with a bit of “So what?”

Probably best if you’re a Drew Carey fan, but not if you’re a little old lady watching The Price Is Right and want to learn more about that nice young man (current age: 65). Because part of the character, schtick, or person of Drew Carey is that he was from a working class background, went into the Marine Corps Reserve, and became a comic, and when he became famous/successful, he got to do what he wanted, which included dating strippers and living a libertine lifestyle. Hopefully it was more character than real person, but who knows? Maybe I am just jealous, although I would like the world to know that I started out looking like a dork and got better looking, whereas Carey started out all right and then got dorky looking and wore the dorky glasses after getting his vision corrected when he was “on.” So…. character?

I would also be remiss in missing comparing this book to Unqualified by Anna Faris which I listened to this winter. Carey’s book is less earnest, a bit smirking, and it was far better to read a book than to spend hours dedicated to listening to the book (as I mentioned, I’m not spending an hour a day in a car, so listening to an audiobook requires sitting in a darkened room and just listening instead of listening while driving). An unfair comparison, but they are similar in that the books don’t really focus on humorous observations from the author, and they’re less pure comedy than the thoughts of a comic actor/actress. Well, better luck to me next time, although I’m not sure how many other comedian/comedienne/comic actor books I have in the unread stacks.

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