Could David Cross be mellowing with age? The actor/comedian has never been known to bite his tongue, whether he’s discussing FOX’s remarkable incompetence in marketing Arrested Development, talking about his participation in the loathsome Alvin and the Chipmunks films or expressing his patented brand of profane rage. Cross’s latest comedy release, Bigger and Blackerer, doesn’t feature any pulled punches, but this isn’t exactly the same Cross as on Shut Up, You Fucking Baby! or It’s Not Funny.
And he fully admits it. Talking about the health care debate, Cross says, “Up until maybe five, six years ago, I would’ve been more outraged and like, ‘This is terrible. This is awful. These people are crazy. What’s going on here?’ But I realized now that I’m 45 and I’ve accrued enough experience … [that] America has a proud rich tradition of voting against its own best interests, and why should it stop now? I watch it now with detached bemusement.”
That detachment is pervasive during nearly the entire hour of stand-up, whether Cross is riffing on the Tea Party movement or airplane smoking regulations. It’s a relaxed, even unfocused, performance that at times seems a world away from the scorching rants that his stand-up reputation has been built on. Still, the subject matter has remained largely the same, with Cross dedicating most of the hour to political and religious commentary. That first airplane joke is just to “balance out the 25 minutes on religion … coming up later.”
And really, that’s where Cross is most at home — the set struggles for traction through some of the opening bits, including a well-worn poke at Jewish guilt and some strangely specific drug addict humor, but finds its feet among the more politically charged material. Jokes about “death panels” pretty much tell themselves, and Cross’s observations about the double standards of the Tea Partiers have been expressed a lot lately, but his indignation makes it all work. Later, we get jabs at Jews, Christians, Scientologists, Mormons, and even Jesus himself.
It’s possible that one could be let down by this fairly abrupt shift in tone, if not subject matter, from Cross’s previous releases, but he does come across as more likable and less smug than he has previously. Bigger and Blackerer ambles along without any truly extraordinary bits, but it seems like the next step in a natural progression for the immensely funny Cross.
Bigger and Blackerer is being released simultaneously on DVD and CD, with the CD containing slightly different material than what is presented on the DVD reviewed here. The DVD also comes with about 30 minutes of bonus clips — most are outtakes from the Boston shows the main program is culled from, with some material from a 2004 Seattle show. Here, Cross discusses the Coors Light demographic and the ridiculous products in SkyMall, and even defends Dane Cook’s stand-up, which the crowd does not abide. A main menu Easter egg reveals Cross’s trouble mixing up his water bottle and the microphone.