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Case Number 19125: Small Claims Court

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David Cross: Bigger And Blackerer

Sub Pop // 2010 // 90 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // June 21st, 2010

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All Rise...

Judge David Johnson is taller and whiterer.

The Charge

David Cross takes to the stage for a bout of stinging, uneven stand-up.

The Case

David Cross would have to go on a puppy-murdering spree for me to turn on him. As an important cog in the greatest sitcom ever (that of course would be Arrested Development) the man has built up plenty of goodwill. So even though he obviously demonstrates in Bigger and Blackerer that he detests both conservatives and Christians (of which I am both), I shrug it off. Big deal. At least he's honest.

Much of Cross' comedy comes from the perspectives of a hard leftist and a militant atheist. And the guy does not mess around either, refusing to dilute his riffs for the sake of…well, anyone.

He devotes a huge chunk of this act to attacking religion, Jews, Christians, the Bible, and the concept of Heaven. And while there is plenty of field to plow when it comes to religion-based comedy, what ultimately short-circuits his performance is the hit-and-miss nature of the jokes. He's got a very funny bit about the prophecies of Revelation, how John should have foretold the coming of "jetpack men" instead of "horsemen" of the Apocalypse, but his dissection on the physics of Heaven—which could have been pretty funny—falters because of a long, drawn-out gag about watching a plasma TV on his cloud or something. He saves some of the harsher stuff for Orthodox Jews (Cross is Jewish), which mixed genuine funniness with awkward meanness. It's biting stuff, but he's an equal-opportunity offender and at the very least, whether you laughed at the jokes or not (I was about half-and-half laughing and grimacing), the guy knows how to get a reaction.

When Cross turns his acerbic take toward politics, things get dicey. As mentioned, he's coming from the direction of the hard left, riffing on the health care bill, pushing for a public option, laying into the Tea Partiers, even giving a wrist slap to Obama for underperforming. But it's lazy stuff. Again, I'm not going to say there isn't plenty to mock the Right about; obviously there is. But Cross substituted the cleverness he is obviously capable of for simplistic insults. Ooh, he called them "tea-baggers!" And he made fun of the protestors' grammatical errors! (Where was he when the anti-war protestors were holding up signs of the Mercedes Benz logo?) He even blends religious mockery in, wondering why Christians didn't support socialized medicine—then just sort of leaves it out there with no punch-line or wrap-up. That becomes less a joke and more of a grenade.

It's perfectly cool for Cross to harpoon his targets from whichever end of the political spectrum he likes, but my contention is, if you're going to almost adopt policy positions in your routine, I think it does a disservice to the subject matter to settle for cheap shots. I know it might sound like sour grapes, but I swear, I applaud comedians of any political persuasion railing on whomever or whatever they like. (The last thing American comedy needs to become is so politically correct performers are subjected to hate crime tribunals as is the case with our friends from Canada.) Cross is so political—and talented—I don't think he can get away with chat room barbs.

The DVD: a full frame transfer, 2.0 stereo mix, supplemented by some bonus footage from the same performance.

The Verdict

I laughed and didn't laugh—it was about fifty-fifty, so we'll go with a Hung Jury.

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Scales of Justice

Judgment: 75

Perp Profile

Studio: Sub Pop
Video Formats:
• Full Frame
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
• None
Running Time: 90 Minutes
Release Year: 2010
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
• Comedy
• Performance

Distinguishing Marks

• Bonus Footage


• IMDb

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