David Cross Danforth Music Hall, Toronto ON, July 25
Published Jul 26, 2016David Cross found himself a fabulous hat that exemplifies today's America.
After some pleasantries about his fondness for certain cultural artefacts from Toronto, and how backwards his fellow citizens are for making fun of Canadians' politeness, Cross remembered that he was wearing a ridiculous baseball cap. A faux denim number, its brim was soaked in blinding glitter and its primary patch was Old Glory, the American flag, also punctuated by obscene shiny stars and shit.
Cross admitted that he's been gathering such items for their ironic value while on his current, long tour and the punch line here, as it is for many comedians currently discussing products that celebrate America's strength and ingenuity, is the literal "Made in China" tag.
There were a few such instances during Cross's somewhat loose but uproarious show, where he mixed airtight and developing bits, and you could see the jokes' resolution looming. In a set that featured funny observational bits about cognitive dissonance (a luggage store in an airport, a California tattoo parlour promoting a "get what you get" philosophy), Cross drew certain ideas out longer than others.
He went off on a line of hotel soap with a sight gag, showing off the bizarre, doughnut-shaped thing, but saved his real vitriol for the pandering brand name and the horribly pretentious description of its ecological merits on the highly recyclable box. It turned into a rant about he culpability of hipsters and hippies in the proliferation of exorbitantly priced "earth-friendly" products and the snobbish, righteousness that such consumption inspires.
It's the kind of spiel you might expect from a right-wing comedian but Cross, an equal opportunity offender, saved his full-court press for Republicans. He tried out new stuff reacting to the recent Republican National Convention and the frightful coronation of Donald J. Trump, as the party's Presidential nominee. He quoted him and, in describing his supporters, drew a line between "legally blind" and "legally retarded" that was as easy as American pie.
His talent as a performer and actor shone in various bits but none was as shocking as his depiction of a hypocritical Republican senator losing his daughter to gun violence. It's a vintage Cross sequence — harsh as hell, but rooted in a certain undeniable logic that his targets don't seem to employ.
Cross garnered huge laughs all evening but it was definitely a topically reactive, process-oriented show, like watching a mechanic tinker with his own car to get it properly tuned up. And because we're so inundated with provocative, sharp political satire right now, it's difficult to find anyone with a fresh take on such issues and even a master like Cross is fumbling to inventively mock the mockery that Trump and his ilk are making of America.
At the very least, we're going to need more than deconstructing a stupid hat.