David Cross Interview by AskMen

There's a reason college kids love David Cross. The beer-swilling, myth-debunking, pot-bellied lefty comedian has been a staple in dorm rooms since his days on HBO's ahead-of-its-time sketch comedy show Mr. Show, and as the is-he-or-isn't-he analrapist Tobias Funke on FOX's cult classic Arrested Development. In fact, his on-screen characters have been so indelibly stamped in the minds of the PBR set, that his fans tend to forget that Cross' roots are planted firmly in the wonderful world of stand up.

Bigger and Blackerer, Cross' third stand-up album for indie label Sub Pop is a stark reminder that no matter how many Squeaqkuels he lends himself to (hey, a comedian's gotta eat), Cross' famously acerbic point of view won't be diffused by Hollywood's bright lights. We caught up with the famously grumpy funnyman -- on break from shooting his new show for IFC called The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret -- to discuss his long awaited return to the stage, the world before internet porn and just when in the hell we'll get to see that Arrested Development movie everyone's been talking about (hint: we'll be taking hovercrafts to the cinema).The Bigger and Blackerer CD and DVD is out on Sub Pop now.

Q1: AskMen.com : Did you enjoy going back to Boston to shoot the DVD?

David Cross : It was great! It was pretty much the end of the tour, and tours kind of take on their own personalities. The beginning is different from the middle, which is different from the end, and it was nice to go back to familiar turf, you know I lived their for nine years, and the crowds were great. It was really fun.

Q2: AM : So the city is full of good memories for you?

DC : Yeah, with an equal amount of sh*tty memories. After I shot the special I went up there for about three or four days and got to take my girlfriend (actress Amber Tamblyn) around my old haunts, which was great.

Q3: AM : Although you have a built in fan base, is there still a fear of tanking?

DC: Getting ready for the tour was a little stressful, in that I hadn't toured for a while, and I had not done a set that had been more than say 15 to 20 minutes long. The material was culled from four years of popping in and doing friends' shows, and I never made a concerted effort to put it all together and create a set. So when I started doing it I was a little apprehensive, like, "Do I have enough time? How am I going to fill this up? I haven't done this bit in a while. What if I don't remember it?" But once I did the first show in San Francisco and as soon as it was over I thought: "What was I worried about? That was f*cking fun! I just did an hour and 40 minutes and I left this bit out. I'm fine!"

Q4: AM : Kind of like riding a bike.

DC : Exactly. Like riding a very funny bike.

Q5: AM : We live in pretty tumultuous times with everything that's happening in the world. As an issue-driven comic, do you ever feel overwhelmed with the amount of things there are to discuss?

DC : No, I wouldn't say that. The only thing that's overwhelming is the necessity to not repeat myself discussing the same general topics. I do a lot about religion, and there's a wealth of material there, but I figure at some point I'm going to have made all the points I could possibly make. So that's what's overwhelming. But there's plenty of stuff to talk about, that's for sure.

Q6: AM : When Bush was in office, we imagine it was a comedic goldmine for you and your peers. How do you tackle the Obama administration?

DC : Really the only political stuff that is in the special, is the stuff on the health-care debate, and I was doing it before it passed. And that was less about Obama and politics, as much as it was about American society and our culture, and the tenor of debate. Even though it was politicians in the bit, it really wasn't about politics. I've never really been a political comedian. I just talked about things that are kind of important to me at that moment. When Bush was in office, it was a very unique specific time. We went to war, all these things happened, and it was just something that was at the forefront of my consciousness. Currently there's less outrage.

Q7: AM : Was that a difficult time for you to be an American? Were you at all embarrassed?

DC : Yeah. I can't remember which paper it was in England, but after Bush was elected to his second term, the entire cover was a huge close up of Bush's face at a podium, and the headline in big letters was: "How could 53,642,912 people be so dumb?" That kind of underscored my feeling as well. Whenever you went outside of America, you would have people say: "I don't get it!" But not with malice, and not with anger, but just a general curiosity. I've been doing stand-up off and on in the UK for several years, and the thing they find curious and amusing is how blatantly Christian the country is, and how much power the Christian right has. That's just a curious thing to them. It's like: "I thought you guys were America!" There's so many different contradictions to America, and you just go: "Yeah, well that's why I live in New York."

Q8: AM : We know you have a deep affection for New York. Why is that?

DC : It's vibrant, it's historical, it's culturally at the forefront of so many different types of art and mediums, and there's an energy to it, and the people are pretty cool. It's a great place to just wake up and walk around in.

Q9: AM : And you maintain a grounded lifestyle in the city?

DC : Oh yeah. I have my local bar, and my local places I go to eat. That's one of the great things about New York. Whether you like it or not -- at least in the East Village -- they don't let you get too big of a head. I'm friends with my neighbors, and 99% of my friends are not celebrities.

Q10: AM : Your neighbours are Bloomberg and Trump, right?

DC : Yeah. Absolutely. Bloomberg lives upstairs.

Q11: AM : When can we see your new project The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret in North America?

DC : I don't know the exact date, but I believe it will start airing somewhere at the beginning of October.

Q12: AM : What can we expect?

DC : It's a single camera comedy that tells a story with a beginning middle and an end. Every episode takes place the next day. It's basically about a well-meaning but really ignorant sappy guy who flukes his way into a job who's in way over is head. Under the false assumption that he's a good salesman, he accepts a job and goes to London and has no idea what he's doing. Everything that can go wrong, does go wrong.

Q13: AM : It sounds a bit like The Office.

DC : No, not really. Every character in The Office belongs in that office. This guy does not belong where he is. He doesn't belong heading up a company, he doesn't belong in a suit, he doesn't belong in England, and he tries to fake his way through everything with increasingly poor results.

Q14: AM : Are you a fan of the British Office or the American Office?

DC : I'm a huge fan of the British Office. The American Office lacks almost entirely the humanity and realism, and pathos of the original Office. You know the end of The Office when David Brent gets terminated from his job, and he's begging for it back, and he doesn't want to let the guy leave his office and he's bargaining? I mean that's a heart-wrenching and real moment, and you would never believe that from Steve Carell's character.

Q15: AM : The American Office is a bit more cartoonish?

DC : It is. It's adapted so they can shoot 150 episodes and the characters never really change or grow. Those characters grew more in 12 episodes in the British Office then the characters in the American Office ever would in 200 episodes. They have a very successful formula, and there's plenty of good jokes and things to laugh at, and funny character, and they're all very good at what they do. It's just what they do isn't as interesting or relevant as what the British Office was, but I don't think that was their intent. They're making a hit American comedy show on a network, so there's different parameters.

Q16:Did you follow this year's late night scandal?

DC :I did. I was here so I didn't have daily access to it, and the papers didn't really cover it here, but it seemed pretty sh*tty on NBC's part, and to a lesser degree but still responsible on Jay Leno's part. It was a mistake that almost all the blame has to be laid at Jeff Zucker's feet. I mean, he made terrible decision after terrible decision. As Conan himself said: "Don't feel sorry for me, I'm doing great." I'm just excited that he'll be back on TV. He had a great show with a great writing staff -- I know most of them -- it was good stuff.

Q17:What websites do you check daily, first thing in the morning?

DC : First thing I do is check ESPN.com to see how my fantasy teams are doing, then I'll probably scoot over to my Yahoo homepage, then I scooch on over to Huffington Post, skim through that, go to Talking Points Memo, then I hop on down to RawStory.com. Then I'll scooch on over evgrieve.com, which is The East Village Grieve, which is just to check in on my hometown. Then I might scooch down over to boingboing then; I spend way too much time on the internet, then I go to work.

Q18: So you skip the whole celebrity gossip thing?

DC: People will send sh*t, but as far as celebrities that I don't know, I don't give a sh*t about Kloe Kardashian. (Laughs) It's deeper than a waste of time.

Q19:Have you been following Bob Odenkirk's work on Breaking Bad?

DC :I don't think I have AMC in New York.

Q20: Well, there's this great thing called the internet that allows you to stream shows.

DC : F*ck that. I don't want to watch shows on my computer. I'm a cranky old man that way. I saw one episode on the place, and I've heard great things. It's the kind of show I'll rent the box set and watch them all at once, which is how I tend to watch TV now anyways.

Q21:Are you a fan of what Tim and Eric are doing?

DC : Oh absolutely.

Q22:When are we going to see the Arrested Development film?

DC : Somewhere around 2022.

Q23:Is that your stock answer?

DC : It's about to be. It used to be 2021 but I added a year.

Q24:At your age, what do you do to watch your weight?

DC : Ugh. Man, whatever it is, I'm not doing a good job. I probably weigh more now than I ever have. It's f*cking metabolism. I used to be able to eat whatever i wanted, drink two gallons of beer a night, and then in my mid-30s it all started going down hill. I definitely have a beer gut.

Q25:Does it make a difference if you watch what you eat and exercise?

DC : It does make a difference. I just need to be more persistent, and have a greater degree of responsibility. But I try to walk a lot, but being in London I drink so much beer. We start shooting on Monday, so I will not be drinking much at all. I'll probably have a pint or two at night and that'll be that. I probably won't have a lot of beer until I'm done shooting, so by then I should have gotten rid of a few of the pounds.

Q26:Is it more difficult now to deal with hangovers?

DC: It's weirder when I'm not hungover. It's a strange, foreign, uncomfortable feeling.

Q27: Is there a part of you that maybe says: "I'm getting older, maybe I should stop drinking as heavily as I did in my youth?"

DC : I've been thinking that for 25 years now, but to be honest, I'm very lucky to be both in a job that allows me to drink and have the constitution and where-with-all to be able to jump up in the morning and perform my task and write and create. When I have to, and certainly when I'm acting and getting up at 6 in the morning and working all day, I don't drink. But if I'm not working or in between jobs, then f*ck yeah, I'll drink every night, all night.

Q28: Can you imagine your life without alcohol?

DC : At some point I'll probably have to. If I have to stop, I have to stop. That's what pills are for.

Q29:What did you for pornography before the internet?

DC: You know, the scrambled cable box and Cinemax at my friend's house, downstairs. And Playboy.

Q30: That seems so archaic to me.

DC: It is. It's archaic to me too, believe me. You don't know of my generation's struggles to get their nut off.

Q31: Are you a fan of internet porn?

DC: In the sense that I'm glad it exists, yes.

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