It was 8:07 p.m., and the stage was still empty. A low murmur of anticipation filled Pomona College’s Big Bridges Auditorium as students waited for comedian David Cross to step out on the stage and tell them, as his program advertised, how to make America great again. And he was late.
The excitement mounted. Finally, after several more minutes, a bald man with a grizzled beard and plaid flannel shirt walked on stage, his appearance rivaling that of even the most dedicated Southern Californian hipster. David Cross opened his act by telling the audience how, when he’d first looked over his tour, he’d noticed something was missing. He said he had asked his agent why Pomona College wasn’t on the list. His agent had responded, asking, “Why Pomona?”
“And I said, ‘You know damn well why!’” David Cross said to resounding applause.
His act continued, winding its way through anecdotes about disastrous family holidays and airport luggage stores, making the occasional detour to perform a Matthew McConaughey impression.
The main theme of the act was to highlight logical inconsistencies in the structure of American culture. At one point, Cross asked how many children needed to be shot for gun control laws to be passed. He responded to his own question with an absurdly high number, and then added, “All at once.”
However, at no point did the comedian propose a strategy to actually make America great. “He was just like, ‘Make America great again? No, America sucks. Okay, that’s my time!’” said Abdullah Shahid PO ‘19.
Cross's jokes walked the tightrope between funny and offensive, but sometimes they lost their balance and fell on the wrong side of the line. He joked that the students shot at Sandy Hook Elementary School were currently serving the jihadists in heaven, which elicited more groans than laughs.
However, students laughed unabashedly at some of his other darker jokes. “I was surprised by some of the politically incorrect offenses that he took, but he knows that we’re not stupid at Pomona,” said Megan Rohn PO ‘18. “We can take a joke, which I doubt myself sometimes, so it was good to see people laughing.”
By the end of the one and a half hour-long act, students weren’t convinced his tour was aptly named. “I didn’t get why he called it Making America Great Again,” Rohn said. “He literally just talked about the Atlanta airport for five minutes. He told a really good story about his wife and him getting couple’s colonics– so that’s something I’ll never do with my husband.”
Pomona’s Bridges Auditorium has hosted a diverse array of eclectic figures, from activists to actors, Maroon 5 to Wiz Khalifa. Sharon Kuhn, events manager for Bridges Auditorium, said that David Cross’s agency reached out to her about the possibility of his performing at Pomona.
“We have a really good relationship with a lot of those industry people, and it’s taken a lot of time to build that up, but we’re very happy with it,” Kuhn said. “They reached out to me and said ‘Hey, David Cross, he’s doing his first tour in six years,’ and I was like, ‘Yeah!’”
Kuhn said that she was satisfied with the response from students and other audience members.
“I heard there was a lot of chatter on Facebook and Twitter, that everybody had a really good time,” she said. “To be able to bring someone of that caliber here, you don’t have to drive into LA. You don’t have to go to a comedy club or line up ahead of time. You come down here, you get your ticket, you walk in, you see a show, and that’s what we want to do.”
Lauren Ison contributed reporting.