By Michael Walters
(CBS) — David Cross isn’t afraid to be abrasive. His generally unthreatening physical presence hides a soul eager for social anarchy. He loves to ruthlessly destroy the injustices, annoyances of life, and break down society’s walls whenever he can. Those more familiar with his portrayal of bumbling deeply closeted analrapist Tobias Funke on Arrested Development may find the language of his stand up a little harsher. But the spirit of his comedy comes through in almost every role (except for the blatant cash grab which is his inexplicable appearance in all 3 Alvin & The Chipmunks Movies.)
But fans hoping for a full hour or so of unfiltered cross may have felt a little cross after Thursday night’s show at the Chicago Theater. Cross acted more as an emcee than true headliner. He got some good bits in, but they were largely sprinkled in between sets from other comedians who were jammed onto the bill as Cross’ super-duper pals. And some were more super than others.
No comedian enjoys bombing. And Comedian Todd Glass seemed at a loss for material while the audience witnessed his agonizingly slow death on the biggest stage the festival has.
The usually reliable Paul F. Tompkins has the cultivated air of a southern gentleman about to enjoy a bit of ribald buffoonery. But his set was more odd than amusing.
While stoner comedian Doug Benson’s comedy can be a little predictable, he did score some decent laughs (not all of them weed based.) The highlight for me was an improvised bit involving Cross and Chicago’s improv treasure David Pasquesi. Cross and Pasquesi performed as the improv group “Chi-tlanta.” Instead of taking just one audience suggestion and then going from there- they stretched the act of taking the suggestion to absurd comic lengths asking for more and more specificity.
But self-proclaimed old nerd and heavy metal enthusiast Brian Posehn provided the most consistently hilarious set. He elevated an offhand crass comment that Cross had made to him about a dinner into a very funny and very gross bit of wordplay. Sure there were a few images involving angels ejaculating that I didn’t expect when I walked in, but I liked the fact that even after all these years Posehn can still find a way to surprise.