Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Let America Laugh

Let America Laugh
Publisher: Sub Pop Records
Released: November 4, 2003
Director: Lance Bangs
Time: 2 hours, 10 minu

David Cross: to some, he's one half of Mr. Show. To others, he's one half God. To others he's "Oh! That guy, I've seen him in something on Fox, maybe?" This DVD follows the tour in documentary style that David Cross went on across America with the band Ultrababyfat in tow after releasing his CD Shut Up You Fucking Baby.

The DVD features the documentary, broken up into chapters, which follows the same nomenclature as the Shut Up You Fucking Baby CD, meaning that the chapters have a name that has nothing to do with the actual material. Yes, sadly, the chapter "Is There Another Christ?" leads to nothing on the subject. There's also no visual associated with each chapter name, so if you want to get to a specific place on the DVD... you'll just have to memorize it I guess.

For the curious, menus are not animated. In fact, when you select certain menu items, there is a noticeable flicker that shouldn't be there. It detracts a little. On the plus side, as a kind of an Easter Egg, if you just wait on any menu for ten seconds you'll hear a variety of different audio clips, such as messages left on the director's answering machine by David Cross and Bob Odenkirk.

Besides the documentary on the DVD there are "Special Features" in which you find well, just deleted scenes. One has to wonder why there are deleted scenes from this documentary seeing as it's going to probably only be seen in this DVD format, but whatever. They're funny, more of the same kind of stuff you would see on the documentary.

Ah, yes, so, what will you see in the documentary? Well, first off, the budget on this must have been uh, about fifty, no, sixty dollars! Maybe a carton of cigarettes was thrown in, I don't know. Except for the introduction and subsequent "office" bits which were professionally done, it looks like the documentary was shot handheld on a Sony camcorder. There's an amicable job done of filming with the camcorder by Lance Bangs, but it still looks like a documentary shot on a camcorder. That, and if I'm not mistaken, it also looks like it was edited on someone's Macintosh using Final Cut Pro. A fairly good job is done on both fronts... there's not a time where you say "oh, this is unwatchable" but it has a certain cheapness to it that makes you think that maybe it's not worth $13.

Anyway, about the "office" bits... basically at the beginning, end and at points in the middle we see David in a fictional job as a menial office worker, watching him as his boss, his wife and all watch parts of the documentary and condemn him for his horrible life as a stand-up comedian.

While these bits are kinda funny, they are also dumb. I found myself often saying "okay, okay, can we get back to the documentary please?" Maybe they got a lot of money to do this documentary and, seeing as they spent barely a thing on it, had to justify the expense some how. "Quick! Uh, come up with some expensive comedy bit we can tape to insert in there! Uh... premise, premise... David works a day job at a corporate office! Yeah! Go with it!"

Now, the documentary part is where the funny is. However, as the disclaimer states, this "IS NOT A CONCERT FILM! This DVD is an unflinching, behind-the-scenes look at David Cross' 2002 comedy tour."

And indeed it is.

You get to see David mess around with fireworks in the dead of night in Minneapolis. You get to see David perform before an awful crowd Little Rock. See David late to a Mr. Show DVD signing. You get to see what his sister is like and hear a little bit of what he was like growing up, but that's it. No in-depth examination of who David Cross is and why he would choose to go cross-country and tell jokes in shitty clubs.

Instead, the documentary tends to focus more on the people that come to see David Cross and the people that David has to deal with on his tour, which follows a choice that makes it more light entertainment than in depth documentary, but you won't really mind because it's damn funny.

For example, while getting ready to do a show at a bar in Nashville, David ask the manager to remove the tables and chairs from the venue, because, (as he correctly points out) the place will be packed and it will be pretty much standing room only. The manager refuses because he's afraid that without tables and chairs, he won't be able to sell any food, and thus, lose a lot of money.

By showtime, the tables and chairs are removed, but the manager of the bar doesn't get away scott-free. David then proceeds to verbally thrash the manager of the bar during his act. As a result, he gets banned from the club and asked to leave immediately after the gig is over. So, David does leave... after taking 35 minutes to get a poster and record into his bookbag.

The rest of the documentary has more of incidents such as that, with some background music from Arlo, The Shins, Kokomo, and a bunch of other bands you have never heard of.

So, to sum up. You will like this CD if you like to see a lot of stupid and/or drunk people with David Cross deftly dealing with them all. An entertaining freakshow---not unlike watching Dick Cheney, except the bald guy with glasses isn't raw, bottomless evil.

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