David Cross: Let America Laugh

David Cross: Let America Laugh

directed by Lance Bangs

starring David Cross

Sub Pop

As far as Mr. Show goes, I count myself among the Legion of Bob Odenkirk rather than the Army of David Cross. Since the show went under, both Bob and David have been toiling away in relative obscurity, but David has managed to keep his toes much closer to the spotlight than Bob. He’s the narrator for Oliver Beene as well as one of the stars of Arrested Development, but it’s projects like this that make it harder to ignore his comic genius.

Let America Laugh is loosely based as a visual companion piece to Cross’s comedy album Shut Up You Fucking Baby! There is some overlap in material, but by and large the DVD is, to borrow a punchline, a “whole different beast.” It focuses on the unique asides in Cross’s performances: breaking from his routine to heckle his hecklers, calling loudmouths up front to have them expound on their drunken anti-logic, waiting for horny scensters to settle down, etc. The film doesn’t make Cross out to be an invincible performer however. A truly horrific crowd in Little Rock, AR reduces David to desperation, doing everything he can just to calm them down enough to salvage his set, before giving up completely. The film also sets aside time for the post-show surrealness, including hanging out with especially philosophical stoned video store clerks and impromptu fireworks displays on empty streets in Minneapolis.

By far the most painful moment for me is the oafish hipster who attempts an interview with David, but only re-asks questions from other publications, bringing Cross and the cameraman to the brink of laughter. There isn’t any need for outright ridicule; the interviewer does more damage to himself just by opening his mouth than David could ever do. More often than not this is what happens to the more pretentious of Cross’s fans: the camera is turned on and, thanks to sarcastic or ironic context the footage is presented, they come off as eye-rollingly inane as the rednecks and right-wingers David goes after in his routines. Very few people in the film escape completely unscathed. It’s exactly the type of film you’d expect from David Cross and exactly why Mr. Show is so sorely missed.

Sub Pop Records: http://www.subpop.com/

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