I first crossed paths with author/comedian/musician Chris Crofton when his band, the Alcohol Stunt Band, played with my band at a show in Nashville. Their lyrics to their song “Dickerson Pike” recounted an unintentional journey by some innocent young scenesters down what was known as one of the seediest drags in Nashville at the time. To this day, lines like (sang in the character of a frightened teenager) “This isn’t Third Man Records,” and “This isn’t the Jeff The Brotherhood show,” randomly pop into my head and put a big stupid smile on my face each time, even in my shittiest of moods. No doubt, when Crofton’s book, The Advice King Anthology, showed up in my mailbox I expected to be laughing—a lot. What I didn’t anticipate was Crofton’s ability to take on heavy issues like gentrification, racism, and sexism at the same time.
As the title implies, The Advice King Anthology is a “best of” collection taken from Crofton’s long-running advice column in the weekly Nashville Scene. The advice-seeker’s questions (I’ve been told the author writes his own questions, but that’s unverified) are generally short and simple. The author’s responses, on the other hand, are delightfully manic and digressive in the best possible way—without totally losing focus on the issue. Crofton’s rants are pure comedy platinum, and his taser wit leaves its targets utterly debilitated.
The chapters are organized by subject and include: Music, Politics, Life & Love, TV & Movies, and several others. The first chapter, Nashville, largely deals with the once-thriving community left twitching in the talons of end-stage gentrification. Crofton no longer lives in Nashville, but he clearly has no love for the house flippers, land developers, condomaniacs, and Airbnb vampires that have stolen the soul and sucked the blood out of Nashville as well as countless other smaller cities. The author often refers to the gentrifiers being from Los Angeles, which—in a bit of intentional irony—is where he lives now. In the Life & Love chapter, there’s a particularly hilarious response to a question from a reader who fears he’s been put in the “friend zone” (“Women hate being compared to penal systems and DMVs, Evan, it’s dehumanizing.”). In the Holidaze chapter, there’s one to a reader concerned about an upcoming visit with racist family members (“Being a racist asshole is what Thanksgiving is all about. I bet your aunt is racist too, btw.”).
In The Advice King Anthology, Crofton avoids the sewer of down-punching frat boy humor and instead relies on self-punching and standing up for the disenfranchised. Beyond that, the book is next-level funny and simply a great fun read. If you enjoy the sensation of your face and guts aching like hell from laughter, check out The Advice King Anthology. He even mentions the song “Dickerson Pike” in the book! –Buddha (Vanderbilt University Press, vanderbiltuniversitypress.com)