His partner in beloved Mr. Show mayhem, Bob Odenkirk, has gone on to steal scenes in Breaking Bad, but David Cross hasn’t exactly disappeared into anonymity. He played identity-confused Tobias Funke on the wildly funny Arrested Development, while plenty of the adolescent set will recognize him as the smarmy record executive from the two hugely successful Alvin and the Chipmunks movies. Stand-up comedy is still in his heart and blood, however, which explains Bigger and Blackerer, his third comedy concert album and second DVD on Sub Pop Records.
Its title a riff on Chris Rock‘s Emmy-winning 1999 comedy concert special Bigger & Blacker, Cross’ DVD arrives with a crushed-velvet-Elvis-style cover that would make any kitsch collector beam with pride. Recorded over two separate, back-to-back sets on the same night at Boston’s Wilbur Theatre, and directed by Lance Bangs, the show opens with a kiddie emcee, “Lil’ Davey Cross,” doing a brief foul-mouthed bit, before Cross himself arrives to much fanfare.
It’s a bit surprising, given his veteran status, how much nervousness Cross still conveys on stage, but he incorporates some of that into his set here with a meta routine, in which he twice gets into it with audience members — one of whom is signing in ASL but misrepresenting his material, and the other of whom (the same guy, actually) is live-blogging the show and slagging Cross. These bits are amusing, but do drag on a bit. Cross is at his best when he’s just in warped observant storyteller mode, riffing on the supernatural powers of balance of heroin junkies and other things that get his goat, so to speak. He gets five or six minutes of pure gold out of a British “date rape awareness” postcard he stumbled across while visiting the United Kingdom.
A lot of Cross’ material is also politically-inflected. He cops to following the health care debate with great interest, since he’s “a fan of misspelled, grammatically incorrect hyperbole.” He also uses the Bible and Armageddon as windows into a scabrous examination of fundamentalism and the American religious right
(which, not surprisingly, he has issues with). And, amusingly, Bigger and Blackerer also provides insight into why Orthodox Jews are the true victims of global warming.
Housed in a regular plastic Amaray case, David Cross: Bigger and Blackerer comes to DVD presented in a fold-out cardboard case with a clear plastic snap-in tray. A nice fold-out poster of the DVD and album cover (above) is tucked away in the sleeve, and bonus features include a small slice of excised material, much of it as funny if not even more so than the rest of the concert. In these deleted scenes, Cross assays Coors Light drinkers (and their need for cans that affirm their beer’s coldness), yogurt, and the inanity of certain Sky Mall products, like a “time mug.” There’s also seven minutes’ worth of material from a 2004 Seattle performance, in which Cross expresses outrage at the notion of electric scissors. Anyone familiar with Mr. Show‘s “Coupon: The Movie” sketch will smile in tangential reminiscence. To purchase the DVD via Amazon, click here. B+ (Movie) B (Disc)