Interview: David Cross is “making America great again”

David Cross, By Daniel Bergeron

The comedian comes to the Orpheum Theater April 18


David Cross asks that you do not tape his set, please. Cross is walking his dog in Brooklyn while on a short break from his whirlwind standup tour, his first time on the road in seven years, hitting some 90 shows across North America with seemingly very simple rules for watching them. (He pauses mid-sentence for a “poo false alarm.”)

“Here’s the deal, guys: you pay and come see the show, hopefully you enjoy it, the only thing you have to do is not tape it,” he says. “People act like, ‘I have no choice! I couldn’t help it!'”

As a comic actor and performer, Cross is well-known as the repressed, cutoffs-wearing Never Nude and mostly carefree but oblivious failure on Arrested Development, or a pathologically lying milquetoast businessman on The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret, or his dozens of other absurd characters on the influential sketch series Mr. Show alongside Bob Odenkirk, who reunited with Cross for the series’ spiritual sequel W/ Bob & David in 2015.

Then there’s Cross onstage, as himself, with an intolerance for bad opinions, a focused rage and a streak of smart-dumb jokes. (“I start off pretty mildly, some anecdotes, throw in some jokes, some easy stuff, then I ease into the harder stuff and come out of it with some more ‘fun for the entire family’ stuff,” he says.) His tour stops at the Orpheum Theater on April 18. He’ll record a new hourlong special during the Moontower Comedy and Oddity Festival this month in Austin, Texas.

“I’m just talking out there and if they agree with me, then I’m sure it’s ‘Yeah! You tell ’em.’ If they disagree with me, they think I’m condescending to them. And I get that. But I’m just talking,” he says. “It’s like I’ve been given the mic at the bar. It’s a monologue. It’s not a dialogue. That’s the kind of shit I say to my like-minded friends who wanna go out to a bar and grab a few pints and want to start talking about whatever heady issue there is that’s pretentious and annoying — that’s how we talk. I’m just filling mine with jokes. Again, I have plenty of silly, stupid, non-offensive, easy, dumb jokes that are just silly and funny. I’m certainly a ‘strong-minded atheist with a liberal-independent bent,’ I’d say. People like George Bush and the people who think he’s great and people like Donald Trump and the people who think he’s great, I disagree with them. For the next hour and change, it’s my microphone.”

Cross composed a set from material he’s performed over the last several years while recovering from shoulder surgery and during a break from another round of W/ Bob & David, which was postponed. (“I talked to Bob last night and we’re gonna figure out how to do it again, for sure,” Cross says.) A behind-the-scenes documentary finale illustrates their writing and performing dynamic and the show’s liquid format.

“It could veer off,” he says. “We’re wide open. We’re not beholden to any format. That’s one of the great things about it. It’s not set in stone in any way.”

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