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His Cross To Bear

Stand-up performer with attitude suffers few gladly in book of cutting satirical musings.

David Cross’ new book “I Drink for a Reason,” which arrived in stores Sept. 1, is a collection of high-concept comedy bits, all embodying the author’s manner and attitude on stage when performing stand-up comedy.

A lot of the book, which consists of numerous chapters of just a few pages each, is comedic premises quickly set up then dispensed with. Many of the chapters find Cross reveling in being the ultimate blue-stater making fun of things red-staters like, or their traits. A few such pieces include “Beef With Jim Belushi,” “An Open Letter to Larry the Cable Guy,” and “Gay Canada.”

A handful of the pieces are laugh-out-loud funny, but most inspire just a couple chuckles -- and that just if you’re already in sync with Cross’ politics and worldview. The best pieces in the book are ones that don’t rely so much on societal or political critique and more on plain old funny ideas, like “Ask A Rabbi,” “Sitting on a Pole Trying To Win Some Money” and “Sweet Mary J.” The first two of these could easily have been done on Cross’ late, lamented and influential “Mr. Show” HBO series from the 1990s, and the third is a discourse on singer Mary J. Blige’s absurd claim that “God wants me to have bling,” and other such outrageously gaudy celebrities flaunting wealth.

Another “Mr. Show”-style element to the book is its photo pages, all random snapshots seemingly unrelated to Cross’ experience in any way, but captioned as if they were. You’ll have to see for yourself on that one.

There are unfortunately a couple of utterly dud chapters in “I Drink For A Reason,” and it is a bit of a problem when the jacket blurbs are funnier than some of the pieces in the book. The worst of the lot is a list of “baby videos,” that is really appalling gross-out humor, and a piece on top 10 CDs chosen while listening to other CDs, which is an impenetrable and confusing ramble.

All in all, David Cross’ “I Drink For A Reason” is a mixed bag, with some sharp highlights but disappointing lowlights. It’s a valiant comedic experiment, certainly inventive, but could have used a collaborator like Cross had in Bob Oedenkirk on “Mr. Show.”




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