256 pages, Hyperion, ISBN-13: 978-0786863518
Dirty Jokes and Beer: Stories of the Unrefined from 1997 presents a collection of vignettes based on the people and places he encountered on the way to fame while also talking-back to his (now long-cancelled) show’s critics; as such, it is a curious mix of rants, jokes, behind-the-scenes moments from The Drew Carey Show and short stories. The rants (which, Carey says early on, his editors made him put in) are mostly lame, though the one where he tells the president where to go is pretty sharp. He’s thrown in 101 “members-only” jokes (which he wrote with the help of the show’s writers), many of these are dumb, though not all. The short stories are just…weird, being a mix of fact and fiction (or so it seems to me), with some appearing to have become episodes of The Drew Carey Show. As with his show, the strongest parts of the book revolve around Carey reliving the themes from his childhood that make up the series: his disdain for wrongful sexual harassment charges, beer, being overweight, living in Cleveland, hanging out with friends, eating burgers and pizza, and so on and so forth. The stuff in the middle of the book is great, especially on the writers’ back-and-forth with the ABC censors, and the inside look at how a show is written and transformed by the writers and the suits in the days before an episode is taped is priceless; while I didn’t buy Dirty Jokes and Beer for this material, but it’s the best part of the book. Amidst all the humor, you can feel Carey’s pain about the loss of his father, his weight, his difficulty in having a normal relationship with a woman, about being molested as a child, enduring substance abuse and depression, and surviving two suicide attempts; while he tries to laugh off these moments they permeate the book, and Carey – like all of the great comedians – tries to make us laugh even with baring the darkness in his soul. Beyond all of that, this book is an enjoyable romp through the eyes of Drew Carey, with some classic lines such as “My favorite game to play in Las Vegas is hooker”, while his story about Mardi Gras is priceless. So by all means, kick back and enjoy some dirty jokes with beer.