David Cross at The Orpheum: Who Should Be Most Offended?

David Cross: Who should be most pissed by his performance?
David Cross: Who should be most pissed by his performance?

David Cross is a very funny guy. As such, he got away with saying things about deaf people, blacks and native Americans that the rest of polite society can't conceive of uttering at his Orpheum Theatre gig on Wednesday. Dressed in a blue polo shirt, plaid shorts and hiking shoes with high white socks, the New York-based Arrested Development alum delivered a fantastically funny set highlighted by bits on the Mormonism, Twitter and Deaf culture. Not even an extended rumination on the odd products in SkyMall ("and did you ever notice the peanut packets are so small!" he may have added) could slow his momentum.

Heckled for the latter part of the set (two long bits involving plants in the crowd may have encouraged this) by people calling out for favorite jokes, Cross at one point took off his shirt, hat and shorts, mooning the audience in a scenario almost as funny as that scene from Borat.

Mostly, though, Cross got laughs by deftly tip-toeing the thin line between acceptable edginess and unacceptably offensive bigotry. Here's a rundown of who might have been offended by the show -- if the audience hadn't been a bunch of white hipsters with a finely tuned appreciation of irony, that is -- and why.

Anyone who has ever seen Todd Glass before.

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"Do I look like Fred Flintstone and Mel Gibson had an ugly baby?" Todd Glass asked at the start of his opening set.

Yes, Todd, you do. Just as you did when you opened with that joke two years ago and in your televised performances. Oof.

Offense rating: 4

The Students of Gallaudet University.

"Have you ever heard when deaf people talk it sounds like a Russian who burnt their tongue?" asked a child in a bald-head wig who did a great little impression of Cross before he took the stage. Later Cross dismissed a plant playing the part of an sign language interpreter in hilarious fashion, ending with "Get the fuck out of here, Deafy."

Offense rating: 7

Vladimir Putin.

I'm not sure when "Russian jokes" became the new "Polish jokes" but I like it. After singing a song about Cosmonauts (mercifully, his only song of the night) to open his set, Cross told an old-fashioned joke about an Astronaut and a Cosmonaut trading brags in a bar. "You know, comrade, we were the first to go to space," says the Cosmonaut. "Well we were the first to go to the moon," says the Astronaut. "Well we will be the first to go to the sun," says the Cosmonaut, who is then asked to explain how. "We will go at night," he answers. Finally, a postmodern comedian with a joke Archie Bunker could appreciate!

Offense rating: 1

African Americans.

"Have you ever noticed that black people are so sensitive about race? It's like guys, come on, some people are black, some people are luckier," Cross said. Will these obviously ironic jokes fly now that we've got Obama in office? Stay tuned.

Offense rating: TBA

The Devil.

"The devil is such a pussy," Cross said during a critique of biblical literalism that also contained a soon-to-be classic quip, "The bible is the world's longest game of telephone."

Offense rating: 1

Twitter users and Bloggers.

Though he appeals mostly to hipsters in their 20s and early 30s, Cross is in his mid-40s, which he demonstrated through a skit with a "liveblogger" in the audience. I slipped my iPhone in my pocket for a few minutes after that.

Offense rating: 10

Native Americans.

Toward the end of the night Cross did a "Fool me once, fool me twice," bit assigning shame to various parties. No. 9: "Fool me nine times? What am I, a fucking American Indian?"

Offense rating: 8


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