In the five years since his last stand-up CD, It’s Not Funny—a worthy, but lesser successor to 2002’s amazing Shut Up, You Fucking Baby!—David Cross’ comedy has taken a back seat to his acting career, for better (Arrested Development) or worse (Alvin And The Chipmunks and its upcoming sequel). His first book, I Drink For A Reason, is well-timed for a comedic comeback of sorts.
Right time, wrong project. Collecting a few dozen short chapters consisting of anecdotes, quick rants that could be stand-up bits, and essays, I Drink For A Reason matches Cross’ stand-up style, and his voice makes an easy jump to the page. But much of the book feels tossed-off, and not just because the back third collects pieces that have run elsewhere. The chapters vary considerably in length and subject matter, from the short, confusing “The Mystifying Allure Of Gratuitous Luxury”—a small paragraph commenting on a website—to an involved fantasy about going on The O’Reilly Factor. Some unevenness is to be expected, but on the whole, I Drink For A Reason feels undercooked. In one underdeveloped story, “I Think Rich People Are Boring,” Cross imagines the outlandish things he’d do if he were extremely wealthy, ending with a short paragraph about holding a contest where people sit atop a 500-foot pole. Fifty pages later, he writes a whole story from the perspective of someone in that contest. Even for readers who recognize the callback, the story’s premise wears thin quickly.
I Drink For A Reason has its moments, particularly in some of the list-based pieces, like “Minutes Of Development And Programming Meeting For FOX,” “A Free List Of Quirks For Aspiring Independent Filmmakers,” and “Ideas For T-Shirts To Be Sold At Urban Outfitters.” “Breaking Up,” where Cross analyzes his grieving process following the end of a relationship, is funny and illuminating, because he rarely discusses his personal life. When he does, it’s quick: “My Memoir-To-Be” offers a bullet list of things to include in a future autobiography, including a couple of disturbing references to his “irresponsible piece of useless shit of a dad.” Cross begins the chapter by saying it’s “too early” for him to write a memoir, but those stories are more compelling than the rest of I Drink For A Reason. (The title is even better suited for a memoir.) As is, the book will leave fans waiting for that comeback.