David Cross: Bigger and Blackerer

To say that David Cross is a cynic would be a bit of an understatement. This man has managed to curtail his curmudgeonly ways into a finely-tuned, razor-sharp brand of comedy, and he’s not even an AARP member yet. That, friends, takes years of painstaking observation of the human form and even more years of penning it into monologues that won’t piss people off.

That last part is a lie, of course. David Cross indeed pisses people off, and he’s fantastic at it. He targets minorities (Jews, black people, deaf people) not because he actually hates them, but because it’s an absurd thing to do. It makes us all uncomfortable, it’s completely wrong, and yet there are so many comedians out there who do it so truthfully. Those are the people Cross is mocking, but it’s subtle. And, as you might expect, brilliant.

“Bigger and Blackerer” is filled with little idiosyncratic moments that diverge from the planned routine; at one point, Cross talks to people backstage, and at another, he addresses the front-row crowd. He’s a great improviser, and not because he’s trying so hard to be funny with his wording. As he stated at the beginning of the show, he’s a truth-teller. He just happens to find the best truths to tell.

Cross is also completely different from his best- and most recently-known characters, i.e. Tobias Funke, Todd Margaret, and Andy Weekes, all of whom were incredibly stupid. Cross is incredibly smart, but also jaded, and that comes across crystal-clear in his comedy. He’s sick of stupid people, much like those he’s portrayed on-screen, and he’ll stop at nothing to poke fun at them, perhaps with the secret desire to annihilate them completely with his commentary. In this comedy special, he attacks religion in general (as well as Catholics and Scientologists in particular) and the liberal media, to name a few. He also captures that innate human quality of being fascinated by the offensive and the mundane; he brings out a foul-mouthed kid to introduce him, he pokes fun at a deaf guy signing to the audience, and he desires to be a subject on Intervention. But he’s not a madman. He’s an observational genius.

David Cross’ humor is definitely not for everyone. There’s not an innocence to it like there is with Louis CK, although the two men have a lot in common. They get to the essential truth very quickly and laconically, but the difference between them is, honestly, children. Louis CK’s kids give him an underlying joy, which David Cross clearly lacks, and that subsequent darkness colors his performances. Sometimes, though, the dark side is the best place to be.