LIVE: David Cross @ Troy Savings Bank Music Hall, 3/20/16
Review by Jeff Nania
David Cross is not the kind of comedian who spews out joke after joke after joke, and just keeps going for the laughs. His comedy takes twists and turns, and his stories often build to unlikely conclusions. Sure, you’re there to laugh, and there are plenty of those deep belly laughs to be had, the kind that you just can’t hold back, but there is also much more. Like any artist, Cross comments on the times we live in. At his sold-out show at the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall last Sunday, everything from Donald Trump to school shootings and gun control, religious extremism, the Oscars, “hipster douchebags,” modern family dynamics and inane advertisements were all on the table for discussion.
After a long soliloquy that explored various stances on gun control and how to prevent mass school shootings, a number of people left the theater. Cross said “bye” and then explained, “I have walk-outs at all of my shows. At this point in my career – 2016, I have eight-plus hours of my stand-up out there…maybe browse it and see if we’re on the same page.” Cross has been in the stand-up comedy world for upwards of 30 years, and has truly accumulated a body of work that speaks for itself, and yet he says in a lot of the small towns he visits, people still seem to see his picture advertised somewhere and think, “Oh… Tobias is in town, and he’s telling jokes!”
The story that seemed to be the straw for a number of people on this particular night explored some of the more conservative explanations for how to make schools safer. Ideas like “arm all the teachers” and “arm all the students” came up, and even “collateral damage.” He compared the mass shooting crisis here to the dropping of atomic bombs in Japan that ended WWII. Yes, many many innocent people died, but it supposedly saved many more by ending the war. So… would the same be true of gun control? If more people had guns and some people had to die to make us all safer, would that be okay? The story ultimately ended with Cross on his knees pretending to be “the NRA’s poster boy Congressman” clutching his daughter as the life slipped away from her after an imaginary shooting in which people were shot by a gunman in Congress on Take-Your-Daughter-to-Work Day. Cross asked what would that congressman say then? Would he finally say enough is enough, or would he simply shrug his shoulders and say, “Well, it’s just a small price to pay?”
Not everything was so deep and full of rhetoric this past Sunday though. Cross finished the show with his impression of Matthew McConaughey accepting an Oscar in a far-off date in the future. Cross prepped himself as if he was about to run a race, shaking out his arms and doing some simple stretches, and then slowly, but assuredly he approached the microphone and let out a string of “Allllll right, alright, alright, alright, alright, alright, alright…” that went on for an uncomfortably long amount of time, eliciting many laughs.
An excerpt of Steve Barnes’ review at The Times Union: “It took the stand-up comic David Cross a full 40 minutes before he unloosed his first political broadside at the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall on Sunday night, but when he did, the liberal howitzers were in full roar. Cross recited the inscription on the Statue of Liberty, starting with, ‘Give me your tired, your poor,/Your huddled masses, yearning to breath free,’ then said the sentiments were ‘quite literally the opposite of what Republicans believe.’ He imagined the awkwardness of this fall’s Republican presidential candidate, presumably Donald Trump, standing for an obligatory photo on Liberty Island and discovering the content of the lines, taken from the end of the Emma Lazarus poem ‘The New Colossus.’ Brightening with an idea, Cross said the poem could be amended to satisfy conservatives by adding ‘non-brown’ throughout. Cross — known to TV audiences as the psychiatrist/aspiring actor Tobias on the sitcom ‘Arrested Development’ — didn’t stop for the next 50 minutes, calling Trump ‘the id of America’ and saying his supporters attend Trump campaign events because ‘It gives them the ability to finally be able to go to a white-power rally without all the guilt.'”
Sad to miss the show but a great review. It always astonishes me when people are taken with outraged surprise about the orientation (political, stylistic, etc.) of a performer who has, as Cross himself says, a well documented record of past (and similarly executed) repertoire … kind of like when people went ballistic at Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young concerts ten years ago because the band was performing Young’s anti-Bush songs. I mean, really, was the audience not familiar with the band’s defining repertoire of songs about Nixon, the anti-war movement and their generally political approach?
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