David Cross

David Cross

Star of Mr. Show and all-around hilarious bastard, David Cross talks to Xbox Nation about Devo, “number two,” and the unbearable lightness of being funny.

David Cross is a hilarious human who wears glasses. As cocreator and costar of the completely weird and brilliant sketch comedy show Mr. Show with Bob and David (R.I.P.), he’s been loved by many and ignored by many more. His commentary on politics, religion, society, and rednecks is consistently sharp and dead-on, placing him in the company of greats such as Bill Hicks, Lenny Bruce, and Chris Rock. Since Mr. Show ended a few years ago, Cross moved to New York, appeared in Men In Black II, did a national stand-up tour, and released a double CD recorded at one of the tour shows called Shut Up You Fucking Baby. He plays videogames and doesn’t listen to the radio or death metal.

Xbox Nation: You live in New York now?

Cross: I do.

XBN: That’s where half-moon cookies live.

Cross: Where what?

XBN: Half-moon cookies. Some people call them black-and-white cookies, but they have half chocolate frosting, half vanilla frosting, and they’re very good.

Cross: Well, I’ll tell ya what, get yourself a jar of black frosting and a jar of fucking vanilla frosting and go to it.

XBN: What’s your favorite medium? Stand-up, movies, sketches?

Cross: Oh, I like all of it. I guess my first love, the one I lost my virginity to, is stand-up. That’s the most satisfying. Working on a TV show or a movie is kind of fun, looking back on it is okay and the final product is okay, but ultimately the most fun, the most creatively satisfying, the one that has the most immediate effect, is stand-up.

XBN: Since you’ve become known, have you been able to do stand-up in front of people that might not agree with your ideas on politics or religion?

Cross: Oh, it was completely different six years ago.

XBN: Was it more fun when people didn’t know what to expect?

Cross: It’s all fun. I really do miss being able to fool an audience, like going up and doing a character and surprising them and making them feel uncomfortable. I’m not really able to do that, which I used to do a lot, but the trade-off is you have a lot of people who are into what you’re saying, which I didn’t have for many many years. So that’s nice too.

XBN: What kind of characters would you do?

Cross: I’d go up like I was retarded or like I was really gay, like very effeminate and nervous because it was my first time, and I’d have someone introduce that. Just do little things like that to make the audience uncomfortable and just freak out a little bit.


XBN: What is your writing process for stand-up?

Cross: It’s all onstage. I jot shit down, I do it onstage and the good stuff I try to keep, and then I keep doing that over and over again.

XBN: Your first major job was writing for the Ben Stiller Show; did you get that through stand-up?

Cross: No, I was friends with Janeane Garofalo who was on the show, and I had submitted some stuff and I didn’t really try to get the gig. I wasn’t that interested. I was doing a fairly successful sketch show in Boston, and then I got completely and wholly tired of being poor and I said, “Fuck it, I’m just gonna do this show.”

XBN: Was linking all the sketches in Mr. Show a big part of the writing process?

Cross: That was a huge part of our writing process… too much. People seemed to like that, so there it is.

I’m glad it’s all in the past, not sitting in a room arguing about that shit anymore.

XBN: When was the last time you felt scared?

Cross: Last night. It got dark, and I heard a creaking.

I can’t go into it.

XBN: When was the last time you felt embarrassed?

Cross: I guess it would be…actually yesterday, I was over at my girlfriend’s, and I took a shit. I was going to the bathroom, number two, whatever you wanna say, and there was no toilet paper, so I used her cat, and that was a struggle and I got all scratched up and it’s just hard to…. I knew it was stupid when I was doing it, like, “How am I gonna get away with this?” But I did, sort of.

XBN: Did you get nervous when you met your girlfriend’s parents for the first time?

Cross: Well, they’re Irish so they’re not that bright. I’m kidding. Actually I wasn’t. I was a little like, “All right, here we go.” But I wasn’t nervous nervous.

XBN: Were they expecting you to make them laugh?

Cross: No. I think they were less interested in me than I expected. I had a little concern over that.

XBN: Do you come from a funny family?

Cross: One of my sisters is pretty funny, but other than that, I wouldn’t say they’re that funny. The middle sister is quite funny, but it’s not like my mom’s a barrel of laughs or anything…she tends to be more shy and openly depressed.

XBN: Do you think a world without religion is possible?

Cross: No, absolutely not.

XBN: What do you think would happen if the world was brainwashed and religion was wiped out of everyone’s minds? How long before it’d come back?

Cross: I think people would start helping each other out of the innate human sense of helping people without having to be dictated to. And not doing it out of a sense of a punishment and reward system that waits for them, and I just think that maybe everybody would leave everybody alone and we’d all get together and share recipes and find other things to celebrate. But then somebody would come along with some sort of mystical proof that God exists because his shoe started talking to him when he was around the corner, nobody saw it but, “I swear to God, my shoe told me that God exists and he told me to do this.” And then there’d be somebody foolish enough to follow him and we’d have Mormonism all over again.

XBN: Do you like Devo?

Cross: Oh yeah, very much. I actually like the middle part. I like the early stuff but I don’t listen to it; I appreciate it more than the stuff that I listen to, which is the middle stuff. I just got a double live disc that came out, when I was on tour I’d just go record shopping. It’s not the best quality, and I got the feeling pretty quickly that, while I’m glad to have it, I’m not going to listen to it that much. But it’s nice to have in a completionist kind of way. On tour I got tons of music—you go into a town with five hours to kill and not a whole lot to do, that’s what you do.

XBN: Is there going to be a Wicked Scepter album?

Cross: Could be. It’s all up to Tommy Mottola. We’re dealing with his people and the legalities of it, so it could be next week or it could be two years away.

XBN: What videogames have you been playing?

Cross: Grand Theft Auto: Vice City. After this I’ll dabble in the new James Bond game.

XBN: What’s next for you?

Cross: Well I’m super psyched. I’m gonna be doing an episode of Crank Yankers. And then that’s probably it; I’m taking the year off after that. So I’ve been working on my prank calls, getting ready to do them and then I don’t know, start the year off fresh, maybe drop out, do a couple of poetry slams and see what happens. See where it goes from there.

Copyright © 2004 Ziff Davis Media Inc. All Rights Reserved. Originally appearing in Xbox Nation.