Comic David Cross

Pasatiempo - - NEWS - DAVID CROSS

David Cross is a lit­tle prickly. When in­formed that there is some prece­dent in Santa Fe for heck­lers to throw fruit at stand-up co­me­di­ans, he told Pasatiempo that he would be cancel­ing his Santa Fe gig “forth­with.” He was kid­ding about stand­ing up the City Dif­fer­ent, just as he was kid­ding when he de­scribed his show as “an hour and change about the life of Fatty Ar­buckle.” But when he heard the de­tails — that an au­di­ence mem­ber threw a banana peel at Dave Chap­pelle at the Len­sic Per­form­ing Arts Cen­ter in March 2015 — he ex­haled an­grily.

“That’s racist,” he said. “I won­der what peo­ple could throw at me in a racist way. Even though I’m an athe­ist, I’m seen as a Jew, so maybe peo­ple will throw money. I mean, I hope that doesn’t hap­pen.” He gave it more thought be­fore adding, “I don’t think there’s any­thing worse than throw­ing a banana peel at Dave Chap­pelle. I don’t know why any­one would pay money to see some­one who is inar­guably one of the best stand-ups in Amer­ica just so you can throw a banana peel at him. Not sure what the state­ment is. Maybe it’s a way to show the au­di­ence that the per­son throw­ing the banana peel is an id­iot. It’s a way for them to go, ‘Hey, I’m an id­iot. Check this out! This will prove that I’m an id­iot.’ ”

On his Mak­ing Amer­ica Great Again tour, Cross is hit­ting smaller cities he’s never been to be­fore, and Santa Fe gets its turn on Wed­nes­day, May 4, at the Len­sic. Any­one who hasn’t seen Cross’ standup should be forewarned: His act is so­cially lib­eral and laced with pro­fan­ity, as ev­i­denced on his three com­edy al­bums: Shut Up You … Baby! (2002), It’s Not

Funny (2004), and Big­ger and Black­erer (2010). His topics en­com­pass far more than pol­i­tics, and though he doesn’t pur­posely try to ruf­fle feath­ers, he’s not gen­tle in his de­liv­ery and no one should pre­sume his pro­gres­sive world­view won’t of­fend more del­i­cate sen­si­bil­i­ties. Of his tour ti­tle, an ob­vi­ous play on Don­ald Trump’s pres­i­den­tial cam­paign slo­gan, Cross said, “Amer­ica just needs to be great again. It hasn’t been great in over three months, and I’d like to get it back to its great­ness of where it was in, like, mid-Fe­bru­ary. No, re­ally, I’d say the great­ness of mid-Jan­uary. It’s my own per­sonal thing. My ego is so mas­sive that I con­sider what’s good for me to be good for Amer­ica, and vice versa. It’s a long story, but I stubbed my toe and I’m try­ing to get that back on track.”

Cross grew up poor in Ge­or­gia and moved to New York City af­ter high school. He did stand-up and sketch com­edy there and in Bos­ton in the 1980s and early 1990s, com­ing of age with such co­me­di­ans as Louis C.K. and Janeane Garo­falo. His first tele­vi­sion job was writ­ing for The Ben Stiller Show, for which he and the show’s other writ­ers won an Emmy in 1993. Soon af­ter, he co-cre­ated, wrote, and starred in

Mr. Show on HBO (1995-1998) with Bob Odenkirk, which ce­mented his fame among the kind of peo­ple who grav­i­tate to sub­ver­sive sketch com­edy. He is per­haps best known for his role as To­bias Fünke on Ar­rested Devel­op­ment, a for­mer an­a­lyst/ther­a­pist pur­su­ing an act­ing ca­reer amid fam­ily chaos. Since 2010 he’s starred in The In­creas­ingly Poor De­ci­sions

of Todd Mar­garet on the In­de­pen­dent Film Chan­nel, and he also ap­pears in the Net­flix orig­i­nal shows

W/ Bob & David and Un­break­able Kimmy Sch­midt .Heis mar­ried to the ac­tress and poet Am­ber Tam­blyn ( Joan of Ar­ca­dia, Sis­ter­hood of the Trav­el­ing Pants). Un­til the Santa Fe leg of his tour, Tam­blyn was trav­el­ing with Cross, ap­pear­ing at in­de­pen­dent book­stores to read from her third book, Dark Sparkler (Harper Peren­nial, 2015).

Cross is par­tic­u­larly adept at phys­i­cal com­edy and play­ing awk­ward, re­pressed char­ac­ters in­ca­pable of self-re­flec­tion, a per­sona that, to the unini­ti­ated, can seem at odds with his stand-up act. He doesn’t tem­per his opin­ions in in­teror views on stage, and heck­lers are heck­led back. Some­times peo­ple walk out. “It’s a hand­ful of peo­ple and it doesn’t hap­pen ev­ery time, but oc­ca­sion­ally they walk out and oc­ca­sion­ally they’re vo­cal about it,” he said. “Some­times they’re not, but if they are, it be­comes part of the show. I’m ready to roll with it if it hap­pens, but it’s not like I de­sire that or do any­thing to try to make it hap­pen. Peo­ple are very sen­si­tive to jokes.”

He in­sisted that Mak­ing Amer­ica Great Again “kind of min­gles the idea of A Christ­mas Carol with Fatty Ar­buckle’s life story.” Cross does this, he said, while rid­ing a uni­cy­cle and jug­gling three uni­cy­cles, a skill it took him five years to mas­ter, which is why he hasn’t toured in so long. As for why peo­ple would walk out on some­thing like this, he said, “They don’t like what I’m say­ing or they don’t ap­pre­ci­ate hav­ing to be re­minded of the things I’m talk­ing about.”

Some­times, af­ter a gig, dis­grun­tled au­di­ence memCross bers tell what they think of him on Face­book, when he posts a photo of the crowd clap­ping at the end of the show and names an “MVP” (code for his fa­vorite out­spo­ken heck­ler). Once in a while, Cross con­fronts the crit­i­cism di­rectly by com­ment­ing back, a move he ad­mit­ted might make him look like an over­sen­si­tive crank. But he has his rea­sons. “Usu­ally I’m drunk. I wake up in the morn­ing full of re­gret and wish I hadn’t done it. If it’s just an opin­ion, I’ll ig­nore it. If some­one says I suck and I’m not funny, I just let that go. That doesn’t mean any­thing to me. But if some­one is wrong about some­thing or spread­ing mis­in­for­ma­tion, that’s when I start ad­dress­ing peo­ple. I got into it with some lady af­ter a show who said 200 peo­ple had walked out. That’s when I get up­set, be­cause you can go on Face­book or In­sta­gram and see the pic­tures with the au­di­ence 90 per­cent full, taken af­ter an en­core. So she was ly­ing through her teeth and try­ing to cause me ill will or harm. I don’t care about opin­ions — but don’t lie.”


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