Before screening his directorial debut last night, David Cross warned the audience at Nitehawk Cinema not to expect any slapstick (or, presumably, cut-off shorts –hello, nevernudes). Hits, the comedian stressed, is a dark comedy that follows 45-year-old Dave Stuben (played by Louis CK lookalike Matt Walsh), a dump worker prone to political tirades at town-hall meetings, as he ascends to fame with the help of YouTube and some Brooklyn hipsters.
The hipsters, two rich papier-maché artists living in Greenpoint, get involved with Dave after their pot dealer (Michael Cera) tells them to google “crazy motherfuckers in town hall meetings.” Meanwhile, Dave’s daughter Katelyn (Meredith Hagner), dreams of becoming a pop star and obsessively rehearses for an imaginary Ellen interview.
“That’s my fault, that’s our generation’s fault,” said Cross during the Q and A. “That’s the world we’ve provided for those kids. So I blame us, but I actually blame baby boomers more. They’re the worst generation. My generation was bad but not as bad as baby boomers.” But what about Millennials?
Cross traced his fascination with “crazy motherfuckers in town hall meetings” back to the pre-YouTube days. When he lived in LA during the ’90s, he listened to KCRW, the local NPR station, while driving. Once a month, it would air the Santa Monica Town Council meeting, where, at the end, they would open up the floor to residents. “If you’ve been to Santa Monica or Venice, you know there is a disproportionate amount of mentally ill people — some a little mentally ill, some very severely mentally ill — that wander around, and quite often make their way to the town council meetings,” said Cross, going on to impersonate one: “Yes, my name is Bernice Montgomery, and last week I told you about how my brother was terrorized by a shark that was, uh, with a chip implanted in it because of Bush and the New World Order, we all know that, that’s a given, I don’t have to explain all that. The sharks have been infesting…”
Amy Carlson, who plays the town council president that always interrupts Stuben’s unhinged monologues with a stentorian “TIME, Mr. STUBEN,” said she’s very active at community board meetings in New York. And she actually enjoys them. “There’s a lot of crazy community board meetings in New York that I tend to go to,” she said. “So I’ve seen a lot of this and actually kind of been one of those people, but not as bad as Dave Stuben. But there’s a woman that is in charge [of one of the community boards] that just so inspired me.”
Hits is set in Liberty, New York, which Cross knows pretty well because he has a house 20 minutes from there (the dump at the beginning of the movie is his local dump, where he heard the expression “fuckin’ city-iots”). But, Cross pointed out, crazy motherfuckers in town hall meetings are “all over America, the only thing that’s different is the accent.” In fact, 40 percent of what Dave Stuben says, Cross explained, is an amalgamation of the town council tirades that are “a dime a dozen” on YouTube.
See for yourself: