Over the course of his 20 years in show business, David Cross has built the kind of resume so-called “alt-comedians” can only hope for. He changed sketch comedy forever with Mr. Show and starred in a cult-loved show that he’ll have to answer questions about until he dies (Arrested Development). He’s appeared in a handful of good movies and starred in two truly terrible ones to bigger dividends than anything he’d done before (the Alvin & the Chipmunks movies). And now he’s released his third standup album, Bigger and Blackerer, his first album since 2004’s It’s Not Funny, and his best collection of standup yet.
Filmed over two shows in Boston’s Wilbur Theater in September, Bigger and Blackerer, obviously a play on Chris Rock’s immensely successful Bigger and Blacker, is a perfect title for this album, since this is as dark as standup gets. Being that Cross has gone on wax making jokes about 9/11, he has to up the ante to get darker, but he does it here. Cross cracks wise about date rape pamphlets, aging (he compares the sounds of his old-man bowel movements to “a person with cerebral palsy unloading drums from a van”), how people who drink Coors Light must be retarded because they change the can every few months, how the “real victims” of global warming are Orthodox Jews, and how he’s decided that he’s done fighting about health care because he’d prefer for Tea Party members to die. Then he calls the devil the biggest pussy in all of fiction, extols the incredible sense of balance heroin junkies have, and goes on about how Mormonism is Scientology. So, you know, the kind of stuff you’d see on standup specials on the Disney Channel.
Most important, perhaps, Bigger and Blackerer is the funniest project Cross has been involved with since the third season of Arrested Development. On his past albums, he could veer between being the biggest asshole in the room to being the most annoying asshole in the room. While he keeps up the acerbic tone of his past releases, he makes sure to cut up his sermonizing with belly laugh-material in a big way here. If the comfortable life Cross has had since the first Alvin and the Chipmunks leads to more comedy albums like Bigger and Blackerer (he says he generally doesn’t care about much any more), more squeakquels will be more than welcome.
Between his work on television programs like Mr. Show and Arrested Development and his legendary debut comedy album, Shut Up, You Fucking Baby!, David Cross will always be something of a legend in comedy circles, arguably the leading figure to come out of the alternative-comedy movement. He returns to live comedy albums with Bigger and Blackerer (an obvious nod to Chris Rock), his first album since 2004's It's Not Funny. Cross has attemped to distance himself from his first album -- he even wrote the section on the album in The Overrated Book. Fans who turned to him as the one hipster willing to express political outrage in the wake of 9/11 and the Bush administration will no doubt relate to jokes about "how well a bald, middle-aged white guy can fill out a pair of jeans." But for a younger generation of comedy fans, the album will be intriguing.