David Cross has a lot of anger deep inside. Not like that, you know, “Darn, I overcooked the roast” anger; he harbors a degree of hatred and rage found usually in the great religious deities. Underneath his nebbish, balding, indie-hipster exterior lays a monster waiting to get out, dying to wreak havoc across the Earth. But instead of laying waste to Sodom and Gomorrah or creating a plague, Cross opts to use his sneering powers to call Paris Hilton a “rich, giggling cunt who has no respect for anybody” and to conjure the image of George Bush eating a Jewish baby.
In the hands of any other comedian, this stuff would be untouchable. But with David Cross’s fire-spitting persona, so carefully crafted through his years of Mr. Show, News Radio and stand-up work, some of this material becomes wonderfully hilarious and insightful. Note that I say “some” since, although Cross is always an enthralling voice in the world of comedy, his targets of satire are often complete misses.
It seems strange that a comedian as original and twisted as Cross falls back on such overdone cliches as 9/11 satire — orange-alert jokes and all — and Seinfeldian “What’s the deal with electric scissors?” riffs on It’s Not Funny, compiled from a series of shows at Washington, D.C.’s Improv club in January. His delivery of these tried-and-true comic motifs is competent, but you can’t help but wonder how many other ways Cross could be better spending his time. With his love for offending the public, Cross’s 9/11 material is potentially dangerous territory. Luckily, once he drops the outdated “Duct tape your windows” jokes and digs into his vitriolic true self, the laughs increase exponentially.
You can practically hear those nerd-rimmed black glasses dip down into a frown as Cross’s beast is released for these few honest moments. He chides Americans for co-opting the pain of 9/11, citing as an example that “overweight woman from accounts receivable … with the Hunky Fireman calendar and tons of gay friends” who lies back at night with a tub of Chunky Monkey and cries herself to sleep. With complete deadpan, he runs through eleven instances of the Terror Alert jumping up after each Bush public relations nightmare, only to conclude that “It’s called coincidence you fucking hippie freak! I’ll see you at Burning Man!”
Further success occurs in random targets for comedy that range from typical to hilarious. Among the best are an extended riff tracing the path of gold from the hands of a half-dead Third World miner to a rich man’s dessert plate at a fancy restaurant, and the insight that, since gay couples often look alike, they have the surreal advantage to be able to “fuck themselves.”
Unfortunately, when it’s all over, you can’t help but be slightly disappointed with all the low points in between the gems on this recording. David Cross is a long way away from his old genius of Ronnie Dobbs and the rest of Mr. Show, and while he can still hit his stride occasionally on It’s Not Funny, too much is missing to say that he’s back in his game.