The Film: David Cross: Let America Laugh, 2003

The Principals:
David Cross, A Lot Of Random Assholes

The
Premise:
David Cross and comedy band Ultrababyfat set out on a tour across the independent clubs of America. The doc focuses on the backstage shenanigans and random cuh-razee happenings on the tour, while peppering the runtime with bits of stand-up that illustrate Cross’ personality. There’s also a number of drunk douches.


Cross takes an MF DOOM approach to comedy concerts.


Is it
Good:
It’s okay. David Cross is a goddamn hilarious human being when he’s not Squeakueling, as evidenced by his turn on Arrested Development, pretty much any of his stand up, and the still-brilliant Mr. Show. Along with guys like Oswalt and Posehn, Cross is a great comic that has transitioned to the mainstream but still shines brightest half-drunk in a dark club with 200 people. Cross’ on-stage style tends to invite hecklers though, and much of the stand-up footage revolves around this. Cross depends on drawn out, dry-as-a-bone set-ups with lots of rhetorical questions that build up momentum to great payoff. Just as often as not though, an audience member (or even an entire audience) will break his stride with screaming reactions, and Cross is great at parlaying this into memorable comedy.

Most of the on-the-road footage is funny or interesting, and does a great job of capturing the informal spirit of a tour like this. It’s definitely an independent, casual documentary though- prepare for lots of cheap night-vision, subtitles over shitty audio, and completely unlit street moments. What matters is the humor though, and this brings a ton.


2nd act pacing issues.


There are a few problems, the most grinding of which is an unfortunate “narrative” device of Cross being yelled at by his cooperate boss that serves to bookend the doc, and break it up in a few places. While it’s shot exactly like a Mr. Show sketch, there is almost nothing funny about it, and it’s completely unnecessary for a road-trip documentary to be broken up with these kind of transitions. More than once there is a drawn-out story or inside joke that was obviously hilarious at the time but just doesn’t translate.These are generally minor gripes, but it’s frustrating to sit through them when you know there’s got to be a ton of funny sitting on a hard-drive somewhere that didn’t get cut in.


Cross’ Voyage through his friend Eugene was less than Fantastic.


Is it
Worth

a
Look: If you’re into David Cross or the independent comedy scene, absolutely. Like the best stand-up docs, it gives you some insight into the comedian’s personality, rather than just being a linear, taped routine.It’s available on Netflix’s Instant Watch and is worth the 90 minutes.

Random
Anecdotes:
One of the club-owners (who Cross severely pisses off by making fun of his declaration that Nashville “can’t be compared to other markets except New York and LA”) sued Cross for filming him secretly. The four companies behind the DVD offered the guy 30 grand, an amount he then pushed to get from each company individually. He ended up with jack shit.

Cinematic Soulmates: Zach Galifianakis: Live At The Purple Onion (fuck The HangoverOnion is also on Instant Watch and if you’ve never seen it but claim to like Galifianakis, catch up immediately!)

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David Cross: Let
America Laugh