David Cross

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PostPosted: Sun Jun 17, 2007 10:26 pm    Post subject: David Cross Reply with quote

Cross? He’s raging
Too brilliant to last on American TV, David Cross is out to conquer Britain
Dominic Maxwell

Whenever David Cross comes to London, the American comedian feels a strange kinship with the good people of Britain. Part of it, he says, must be because his father is from Leeds. A hankering for gloomy weather and 24-hour sarcasm is in the marrow. And so, it turns out, is that most British of virtues: the love of a good pint . . .

“I drink a lot of beer,” says Cross, “a lot. And when I am in London I feel kind of an obligation to my people to imbibe and partake with them. Except that last time, when I played Soho three years ago, it was every night. By the end I was pretty sick.” A quick fact check with the Soho Theatre confirms that Cross introduced them to some pretty frisky cocktails, too (an Irish Car Bomb, anyone?). Is this any way for a 43-year-old man to carry himself? Well, Cross is a professional disrespecter of any orthodoxy that doesn’t add up. He’s no time for puritanism, religion, American foreign policy – or political correctness either. That’s made him American indie rock’s stand-up of choice: he’s more likely to share a stage with Pearl Jam or his friends the Strokes than he is with any of the slick gagsmen that clog up his adoptive New York (he grew up in Georgia).

His articulate ragings against Bush and, indeed, American boobyism of all shades has stepped outside the club-comedy ghetto in two concert albums for the Sub Pop label. His countercultural credentials initially stem from Mr Show, a TV sketch series he made with Bob Odenkirk from 1995 to 1998. It never made it over here, but in America it was a cult comedy of almost Pythonesque pull, and it helped to lead Cross to lucrative turns in films such as Men in Black II, Small Soldiers and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.

But the best showcase for his comic acting has been as the pompous, pathetic Dr Tobias Fünke in three seasons of Arrested Development, a show fit to take on Curb Your Enthusiasm for the title of the best US sitcom of the decade. And he’s guested on pretty much every other US comedy show or animation of the past five years. No wonder the man’s thirsty.

But it’s not so easy being an angry young man when you’re 43. Cross suggests he’s as politicised as ever in his real life: he’s intrigued by the Blair-Brown handover; he can drop names like “Robin Cook” into conversation. In his act, though – which arrives at the 100 Club in London this week – he’s grown weary of plying the same complaints. “I’m not going to do 60 years of Bush Sucks material,” he says, “I’ll sound like a broken record. But I’m glad to be on record for having said all those things in 2000.” He admits that years of touring burnt him out. And he’s stopped kidding himself that he can write while he’s working on a film. “It never happened,” he says.

So David Cross is at a David crossroads. He’s developing his own sitcom for HBO, about an early-middle-aged Manhattanite who just can’t grow up. But he’s disdainful of the state of the entertainment business. He was sorry that Arrested Development got cancelled midway through its third season but always knew that this slippery, sophisticated show was an aberration on American TV. His animated series Freak Show was axed by Comedy Central after only three episodes. Still, he’s lucky, he says – some network shows get the chop after two. “That’s it,” he sighs. “They might have sucked, but who even got the chance to see if they sucked? Just knowing how shows evolve and develop, two episodes is not a good indication of a show’s potential.”

So while he figures out how to get his smart, substantial, abrasive comedy out into the world, his stand-up is anchoring his ambition rather than driving it. In the London show he does a half-hour set, then hosts a lineup of US comedians (Todd Barry, Eugene Mirman and Kristen Schaal), plus a local ringer such as Jimmy Carr, Ed Byrne or Josie Long. They should be great events, but they won’t make anyone rich. Good job, then, that Cross has just finished making his latest film – Alvin and the Chipmunks. .

“In fact,” he says, “because London’s so f***ing expensive, I will walk away with perhaps $24 from these shows. That’s why I do these movies and stuff – to allow myself to spend significant time doing these kind of shows. I balance it out by doing a big kids’ movie or something like that that’ll pay my mortgage – and my hospital bills.”

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 01, 2009 3:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

David Cross: Drunk on the power of comedy
Comedy nerds, rejoice! David Cross’s relative absence from your world is over. He’s back with a new book, a new tour and the same attitude.
by Brendan McLaughlin
August 31, 2009

For the past year or so, David Cross fans, and there are many, have been going through withdrawal. Aside from a one-off live appearance here and there, the comedian, writer and actor has kept pretty much off the radar. Re-watching every episode of Arrested Development and Mr. Show on DVD is a great pastime – maybe the best – but it only makes us miss him even more. Where’s he been?! Well, it turns out he wasn’t just sitting around drinking. Well, actually he might have been doing some of that, but the point is, he was doing it for a reason.

Turns out, Cross was working on a new book, a TV pilot and is prepping to go on tour. The book, I Drink For a Reason, comes out today. Punchline Magazine had the pleasure of catching up with Cross recently to discuss the book, his comedy and his favorite beer(s). Oh, and Mrs. Featherbottom.

Where did the idea of you doing a book come from?
It was not my idea. I’m just a naïve simpleton that sits in a teepee in the woods, and then people come to me with these ideas. Seriously though, like almost every worthwhile project I’ve been a part of – not all of them, but most of them – this was somebody else’s idea. Somebody at Warner Books, which was the name of the publisher – they just switched names to Grand Central – but they called an agent I think and said, ‘Hey would David Cross be interested in writing a book?’ And that agent, who I’d never met and have yet to meet, said, ‘I don’t know, let me check.’ And he checked, and I said, ‘Sure.’ Then the agent said, ‘All right, let me hang back from this, but I still get 15 percent of all the money you make,’ and I was like, ‘All right. Sounds good.’

The book’s foreword is about the very universal activity of putting off writing. How was the process of writing this book for you? Did you enjoy it? Was it annoying? Fun?
It was all those things and more. I tend to work pretty well with a deadline or under pressure. And because of that, I have lazily adapted all that procrastination. I mean, I need to go to a fucking hypnotherapist or something, because I will just put shit off and put shit off, with the idea, and this is really dangerous and just detrimental to the process, of just being like, “Oh yeah. I’ve got plenty of time.” And then as it approaches it’s like, “Oh my God, I’ve got no time. I wish I didn’t do that.”

So, in the beginning, it was fairly easy. I’d just write shit down, I had a while to turn it in. And then in the middle, as the deadline started looming, it was awful. It was a really frustrating experience— frustrating because I was angry at myself for doing it yet again. The middle part of writing is really not the fun part. But then as you start laying all that stuff out and it starts taking shape and it becomes a real thing, then it gets fun. Then the last month and a half was really – I don’t know if ‘fun’ the right word – but really enjoyable. Satisfying. You know, putting it together, moving this over here, doing some editing. It was pretty cool. I should say that also, I had an enjoyable working environment. It wasn’t like I was sitting in a trailer on set in between shooting Alvin and the Chipmunks. I had a lot of free time. I was at my house upstate. I was with my girlfriend, who was working on her book. It was really a good environment.

Do you feel that same love/hate, procrastination process when you’re writing stand-up material, or when you have a tour coming up?
Absolutely. Yes, very true. And the problem is, and again it’s brought about completely by myself, I don’t have a good writing discipline. And I’ve never sat down and ‘written stand-up.’ I’ve never been one of those guys who’s like,’I’ve gotta write 10 new jokes today!’ I just don’t work that way. But I am relatively good at riffing onstage, and accumulating material from those loose sets, and putting it into a semblance of a show.

Again, I psychologically trick myself into going, ‘Yeah, it’ll all be all right!’ And then as the day’s coming it’s like, ‘Oh shit! I gotta put this thing together! What the fuck am I gonna do?’ You know, I’ve got all the material there, but I just don’t have it in an economic form. So yeah, it’s the same thing. But that’s the thing. Writing is a tangible thing with tangible results that you can look at, hold and edit. Stand-up, or at least my stand-up, is completely different. A lot of it is kind of in the moment, you know?

A lot of pieces in the book feel like the kind of material you do onstage. Was any of it originally intended as stand-up material?
One piece in particular definitely was: the ‘Ask A Rabbi’ thing. Every Chanukah, Yo La Tengo does this series of shows at Maxwell’s in Hoboken. I’ve been doing them for, God, eight years? It’s a benefit. Each night it’s for a different charity, and they have different comedians and guest bands. That piece is something I’ve done for those shows; I’ve done it seven or eight times. And then I did it once again for a Christmas show that Eugene Mirman was doing. But I’ve never done it outside of that context. So I thought, ‘Oh, I’ll put that in the book.’ You know, I wouldn’t really say, it’s part of my stand-up, but I’ve definitely performed it onstage. I know there are some other ideas in the book about global warming and the Orthodox Jews that, I’ve said onstage probably a thousand times.

Speaking of alternative shows, since the start of your career, you’ve been known for playing a lot of shows outside of comedy clubs. What made you go elsewhere?
Well, 90 percent of it is the audience. I thought, and I was correct in my assumption way back when, that my stuff and especially my style would probably go over better in front of younger, hipper people that could relate to what I was talking about. That’s, as opposed to the typical person you might find in a suburban comedy club. I worked a lot in Boston during the comedy boom there. And they just had to fill the stage with somebody. So I was very lucky to be there in the time I was, at the stage I was developing in, because I think in most other places I probably wouldn’t have gotten much work.

I didn’t have the most audience-friendly set. But they needed to put somebody on the bill so they didn’t give a shit. They’d say, ‘Yeah go in the middle at Sully’s, it’s a pizza bowling place. You get 25 minutes and you’ll get 85 dollars.’ So, I know that kind of audience well. And once that whole alternative scene started – when I moved to LA it was really starting to burgeon there – it was kind of a natural move to make.

In the book, you speculate on who would play you if you sold your story to Hollywood after appearing on Survivor. Who would play you in a movie of I Drink For A Reason?
Umm, it would be a pretty brutal, international casting call. It would probably take a year or so. It would probably come down to Jean Reno vs. Kenneth Branagh. And it would end up going, most likely, to Topher Grace. It would be a long, arduous process. The whole world would be on the edge of their seat.

Do you have any worries that someone will confuse I Drink For A Reason with I Hope They Serve Beer In Hell by Tucker Max? For instance, if someone were to buy a fan of yours the wrong book by mistake…
The only, only bad thing about that is that would unfortunately go toward supporting Tucker Max. That would be kind of funny. Or vice versa. I’d love people to go, ‘Aww bro, you have GOTTA check this book out! It is fucking awesome, bro!’ And then they get my book and the guy’s like, ‘Yeah, I KINDA liked it. It wasn’t THAT funny.’

In the book, you talk about one occasion where you responded to a negative blog review of one of your shows, in which you were accused of being a bigot. What’s your general practice for dealing with that kind of anonymous criticism?
Well the response, and I certainly have been a part of that as well, is measured and thoughtful, and hopefully rational. But you’re responding to an anonymous person who is just like, ‘You suck!’ And I did that a number of times for a couple of years. And it’s very much a no-win situation, as I’ve discovered from experience. And you’re responding – I can’t speak for everybody – but it’s not out of ego or hurt feelings, but more like, ‘This is wrong, and it’s very, very wrong, and I feel obligated to set the record straight from my end.’ This isn’t a couple of people shootin’ the shit at a bar or a coffee shop. This is all over the place and it exists forever, you know? I wouldn’t give a shit if they were talking at the table next to me. That would be kind of amusing. But whatever subsequent comment or criticism or observation is made about me or my act, it’s all predicated on a false premise. And it’s just wrong.

I read that you worked on a pilot in England. Do you think they appreciated Mrs. Featherbottom?
Umm, I can’t say that they did or didn’t for sure, but I can tell you there is a huge Arrested Development fan base in the UK. I spent a lot of time there over the past year, and I’d say, no exaggeration, every day at least one person would ask me about it or talk about Arrested Development, or tell me how much they loved it or whatever. Every single day.

Mr. Show is the same way. It’s almost seen as a band that wasn’t hugely popular while it was around, but it just has this huge, enduring influence. What’s it like for you to look back at the Mr. Show stuff?
I think as we were sort of winding it down, we had a feeling, although unspoken, that the last year was in fact going to be its last year. We never verbalized it, but I think we sort of felt like that was what it was resigned to become. Neither Bob or I are upset about it. We were very proud of it and remain very proud of it. You know, we were very careful about not dating too much of it. When we would want to make a reference to what was then a very topical pop culture reference, 90 percent of the time we’d not make it that person specifically, but make it an amalgam of different people – a person in power, or a celebrity or whatever – so it wouldn’t feel dated.

You know, it’s not like watching an SNL rerun with a guy playing Clinton. So, we kind of felt like, ‘Oh, that’s where this thing’s headed,’ but that’s not a bad thing. And it’s really par for the course for both Bob and I. I don’t think either one of us were destined to be wildly successful and popular, and I think we’re both very, very fond of that.

You drink for a reason, but what’s your favorite beer?
In the Summer, when it’s hot out I like Pabst, Bud Light, Coors Light, I like light beers like that. And then in the Winter, I like Harpoon IPA, I like your Sierra Nevada, Sam Adams, or an Anchor Steam-type of beer. And then in London, always go for a Fuller’s London ESB. London pride. Gotta go with the London pride.

I Drink For a Reason comes out Monday, Aug. 31. Click the image below to snag yourself a copy. Once you pick that up, be sure to visit IDrinkForAReason.com for video extras relating pieces in the book
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 03, 2010 3:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

David Cross Interview
Daniel Barna

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?
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?
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?
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?
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.
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?
Oh absolutely.

Q22:When are we going to see the Arrested Development film?
Somewhere around 2022.

Q23:Is that your stock answer?
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?
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?
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?
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?"
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?
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?
You know, the scrambled cable box and Cinemax at my friend's house, downstairs. And Playboy.

Q30:That seems so archaic to me.
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?
In the sense that I'm glad it exists, yes.
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 01, 2010 6:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

David Cross Talks The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret
September 30th, 2010

David Cross has a strange reputation. Some consider him abrasive and too hyper-intelligent for his own good. Even he acknowledges that he can be a supreme dick on the not-so-rare occasion. A man with no patience for the dulling of American, he's really not a bad guy at heart. He's a comedian after all. And very approachable when not being scrutinized about some of his more lofty career choices such as Alvin and the Chipmunks. Sometimes, people have a problem with his attitude simply because he never hides under a fake façade. He's just a dude, and that authentic average Joe enthusiasm sometimes throws people for a loop.

Approach David Cross as an admirer and a fan, he's as cordial and polite as any Southern good ol' boy could ever hope to be. Just don't ask him about the Arrested Development movie. He's the one cast member that truly thinks it will never happen. He's tired of talking about it. And the recent box office failures faced by his co-stars this summer, Michael Cera with Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World and Jason Bateman with The Switch, only seem to drive more nails into the coffin that is his attitude on the subject.

Tobias Funke fans shouldn't fret, though. It won't be long before you're all clamoring for a big screen version of David Cross's latest endeavor The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret. Cinematic in its scope, and increasingly addictive, it may just be the best new comedy of the fall television season. Cross, who created the series himself, stars as Todd Margaret, a lowly American office temp who is accidentally sent to London with the task of selling Thunder Muscle energy drinks to a nation of citizens who want nothing to do with its toxicity. The title doesn't lie. Once Todd arrives in the country, he makes one horribly bad decision after the next, and his life begins to fall apart like an amazing maze of Dominoes set up in a Mid-West convention center.

Its an amazing spectacle to behold on every level, and no one else could get away with it quite the way David does. He's an agile acrobat of embarrassment, and he's becoming one of the greatest physical comedians of our time. Rather than talk about the past glory of Arrested Development, he's quite excited about sharing this new potential enterprise with his fans.

We recently caught up with David Cross to chat about the series' upcoming six episode run, which kicks off this Friday night, October 1st, with In Which Claims Are Made and a Journey Ensues. Here is our conversation:

For once, here is some truth in advertising with this show's title. I've only seen episodes 1-3, so tell me, how poor do Todd Margaret's decisions eventually get by the time we reach episode six?

David Cross: These decisions get pretty fucking massive. Episode Four is not as major. But then Episode Five starts getting crazy. By the end of Episode Six, as we will see in the last twenty seconds, every poor decision he has caused is in one tight space. And it's kind of a cliffhanger. How the fuck is he going to get out of this one? The first three are a warm-up. They get way worse. Things just start compiling and compiling.

So Episode Six is a cliffhanger. Does that mean we're going to see a second season of Todd Margaret?

David Cross: That is up to IFC. I have a story. When that entire story is told, the show will be over. The order was for six episodes, and this story hasn't been told in those six episodes. So, hopefully they will pick up the second season. I feel pretty confident that they will. Then we can get closer to the end.

It's interesting that you say its IFC's decision to bring you back for season two. It was my understanding when this series first premiered on Channel 4 in England, that American audiences would never see it. What changed your mind about bringing it to the states?

David Cross: The idea was to do a show in the UK that was for the UK market, that could potentially be sold to America. I did a pilot for British television. They would decide if they wanted to commission it. Once they had the pilot, we went to American channels to find a co-producer. IFC came on and said, "We love this, we'd love to be a part of it." So, it will be airing both in the States and in the UK. As you might imagine, the American company had more money than the British company. So, IFC really makes the decision on this. That's how they came to have this position that they are in.

Blake Harrison is your co-star on the series, and he is pretty great. But in the pilot that has been around on the Internet for a while, the part of your business partner was played by Russell Tovey, who is now the werewolf on the extremely popular Being Human. Why the switch, and are we going to see a whole new first episode this Friday night?

David Cross: Yes. This is different from the pilot. We had to get a different actor. Because it took so long to get an answer, and to figure everything out, we lost our original Dave. By the time we got an answer from IFC and Channel Four, so much time had passed that we lost Russell Tovey. He was in the middle of shooting Being Human, and there was no way around it. We tried to figure out a scheduling change. We tried to work around his schedule. But they shoot in Whales, and there was no way he was going to be able to do it. So we had to recast. But it is in no way a reflection on Russell Tovey.

But now you have Blake Harrison, who is so great on The Inbetweeners, as your Dave. Were you a fan of that show before casting him here?

David Cross: Blake Harrison is great. I'd seen The Inbetweeners. I didn't really study it. Or watch tape of Blake. He came in, and I'd seen a little bit of it here and there. I didn't feel it was important for me to see every episode. This is a different character. He is a bit sharper here. The character is sharper, and more suave than he is on The Inbetweeners.

You strike me as a cat lover. Is the very last shot of the first episode strategically placed there to piss off one particular person in your own life, or were you looking to alienate a whole group of people? Or were you simply saying, 'If you can't handle this, you better not come back for any more episodes?'

David Cross: There is a story. It will become apparent in future episodes why I showed that.

So you weren't trying to alienate the cat lovers in the audience?

David Cross: No. Not at all. Though I have to say, I love the idea that someone would get so upset at a fake, dead cat that was shown for ten seconds, that they wouldn't watch any more episodes. That is the kind of shit that brings a smile to my heart. That there are people who would go, "I'm not going to watch any more. They had a fake, dead cat! Boo hoo!"

I believe one of your live albums is recorded in Eugene, Oregon, and now you have this character who is from Oregon, representing with Duck colors at the beginning of each episode. What do you find fascinating about the state, and why do you think it's influenced your creative decisions, in regards to who Todd Margaret is?

David Cross: Not to sound like a dick, but I'm not fascinated with Portland at all. I love Portland. I enjoy it. But the only reason I put him in Portland was because it was the smallest, furthest, most away city from London, in America, that I could get. And it was a city that might actually have a company like Dynamic Integrated Solutions. So I stuck Todd in Portland.

What were the European audiences perception of Oregon? Or did that even matter to the story at all, as far as they were concerned?

David Cross: Portland, Oregon doesn't add anything. It's not a character in the show. There is no importance assigned to the fact that he's from Portland. They know of Oregon. It's like our perception of Birmingham. We know it exists, but I've never seen pictures of it. They know that Portland is a small town in the Pacific Northwest, somewhere near Seattle. There are a lot of woods. Look, there is no importance. And I don't think anyone watching the show has thought about it. They'll be disappointed if they are thinking about it. Again, it was just to put him as far away as possible, in the smallest city. That way, we didn't have to explain certain things.

I think, beginning with that one spectacular fall in Arrested Development, you've become one of the finest physical comedians of the past two decades. And that prowess continues throughout this series.

David Cross: I love doing that stuff. If its done right, it's funny. I really do love it. Some people think that started on Arrested Development, but I used to do shit like that all the time on Mr. Show. I'd always ask to do my own stunts. I love doing them. They are so much fun. As long as you don't make it the centerpiece of your episode, and you have some other stuff in there, I thing it's a lot of fun. And again, I enjoy doing it.

How careful are you about doing your own stunts? Do you throw yourself into it wholeheartedly? Or do you look at what happened to Chevy Chase as a precautionary tale?

David Cross: (Laughs) No. Believe me, I am not a masochist. I don't have a high pain threshold at all. But I feel that if it doesn't hurt a little bit. If it doesn't make that cringing sound, then it's not working. It comes from jumping bikes, or skateboarding. You fall down, it kind of hurts. Its like a mosh pit. Everyone needs a mosh pit in their life. You're sore and you're bruised, but you don't really think about it. It was just kind of fun. Those things have that quality to them. At least for me. I like it. I like getting hurt. Not really, really hurt though.

I love watching you do some of those falls. It's hilarious because it looks so amazingly painful. I want to ask you about another project. At the time you were shooting Year One, you mentioned that you were working on a new series with Bob Odenkirk. Is that still in the works?

David Cross: We did it. We shot it. We were really happy with the script, and the cast. We shot it. That night, we did two tapings. It was a pseudo sitcom. So it was on a sitcom set. A bunch of fans were there. It was a great audience. It was a great experience for everyone. For HBO. For Bob Odenkirk and I. For the rest of the cast. For our friends. Everyone that was there said, "Wow, this is awesome! This is going to fucking rock!" Everyone was quite excited. And then! This has never happened before...Bob and I went into edit it, and we couldn't capture that energy and feeling that we had in the room, on TV. We tried so many different versions. We tried different openings, "What if we try this? What if we take this out? What if we don't do that? Can we make it this way?" We tried a bunch of stuff. It wasn't the worst viewing in the world. But it was tough. We resigned ourselves. We all felt the same way. We didn't know what to do. We tried this, we tried that. Everyone would see it, and shrug. It wasn't bad. It wasn't unfunny. But it didn't kick ass, like it felt it did when we shot it. Bob Odenkirk and I said, "I don't think this is the way to go. We'd rather do this." The this was the more Mr. Show type elements we'd brought into it. "That was what we'd like to do and concentrate on. We appreciate HBO giving us four hundred thousand dollars to make a failed experiment. Can we do it this way instead?" They said, "Well, we don't have any money left this year. But Maybe next year." Then we never heard from them again. It wasn't anyone's fault. Some people think it was HBO that wasn't interested. But it was really us who said, "This is not working."

Do you think that Pilot will pop up somewhere in the future? Do you think it will make its way onto the Internet at some point? Or is this something you never want other people to see?

David Cross: I wouldn't mind it. Especially if fans go into it knowing the brief backstory I just told you. They can judge for themselves. And you can see where the potential is in it, for sure. There is just a huge difference in being in that room, watching it live, and then watching it on TV. I don't know what it was. But I wouldn't mind someone seeing it. That has been around for two years now, at least. If someone hasn't put it up by now, I certainly don't have a copy of it. It could be lurking out there, somewhere. I'd guess that HBO has it hidden somewhere. Who knows.

And someday it will pop up. Didn't Bob used to do failed TV pilot screenings?

David Cross: Yeah. I never really participated in that. He did a couple of TV pilots. It wasn't the same as David's Situation. The difference with those other pilots is that those were things he wanted to have go. We are the one's that took David's Situation off the table and said, "Please let us do something else."

What is the future for you and Bob? And Mr. Show? I know you guys had a movie you were trying to get made for a longtime. Hooray for America. Have you ever considered updating that? Or reuniting in some form?

David Cross: Nah, that ship has sailed, my friend.

Before you go, can I ask what you are planning with the second season of Todd Margaret? Is it going to be a continuation of what we are seeing now, or is it going to be a whole new scenario?

David Cross: No! God, no! What I was saying before is that we'll go until we reach the end of the story. Every single episode picks up with the next day. Where we leave off, season two's first episode would pick back up the very next day. Then we would go to the next day, and the next day, and the next day, until where he is in court, heading for prison, as we see at the beg. That will be the end of the show. But that is not the end of season one.

The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret episode 1.1, "In Which Claims Are Made and a Journey Ensues" stars Peter Brooke, David Cross, James Doherty, Lee Nicholas Harris, Mick Slaney, Elisha Willett and is directed by Alex Hardcastle.
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 19, 2012 7:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Q+A: Comedian David Cross
Cross talks Todd Margaret, what he doesn't like about SNL, and his upcoming work.
Thomas Lewis
19th Jan 2012

While you could say that writer/comedian Davis Cross (whom you may also recognize as Tobias Funke from Arrested Development) got his start as a teenager doing stand-up comedy on stages in Atlanta, the comedian also has a few ties to Boston, where he attended Emerson College and formed his sketch comedy group, “Cross Comedy,” in the early 1990s.

Last year the cable network IFC re-aired his critically-acclaimed HBO series Mr. Show as part of the buildup to his newest project, The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret. Two weeks ago, as the second season of Todd Margaret began, I had a chance to sit down with Cross in New York as he explained the genesis of the show and its protagonist, Todd Margaret.

Cross plays Margaret, a bumbling and incompetent American who has been sent to the United Kingdom to market an energy drink of questionable quality called Thunder Muscle. Will Arnett (also of Arrested Development) plays Margaret’s boss, Brent Wilts, and is somehow even more incompetent than Margaret. The story of what becomes the pair’s criminal incompetence is told in a flash-forward and flash-back style that Cross said was influenced by his obsession with Lost and Battlestar Galactica while he was writing the story. The second season of this almost surreal farce builds to a fever pitch over the next few weeks and it airs every Friday night on IFC at 10:30 p.m.

How did you approach creating the character Todd Margaret? Was this a guy you knew? Had you been working on someone like this for a while?

This is the only project I’ve ever done that I created. I approached [it] in a way very different from the way I normally approach things. The character came much much later, after the idea, and the idea came because there were a certain set of parameters I had to adhere to.

To give you the back-story, I was in London doing standup at the time, and I was approached by two women from RDF Media Productions, which I had never heard of. They asked me if I would be interested in creating a show that would put me together with a British writer and producer — a show for me to star in that takes place in London and the UK … that could potentially be sold and air in the States.

As I started fleshing this whole thing out, I came up with the character. There’s an aspect of this person that is based on a type of person, and I do have a friend like this, but we all have a friend like this — [the kind of] guy who mistakes female pretension of hospitality, civility, for sexual innuendo or sexual possibilities.

What about the idea of the American who is over in the UK and not aware of certain customs?
We were adamant that we would not make that the source of the humor. The comedy is secondary to the story, which is big in its scope for a comedy show. I’m hesitant in saying that this is “just a comedy show” — it’s a story that’s pretty funny at times, but when you consecutively play it out, it’s not War And Peace, but it’s an intricate story with all kinds of levels and details to it. The comedy is inserted [in those details].

I’ve found that no matter what phase of the story we’re in, flashing forward or back, there’s always something funny there.
As we got closer to shooting, the funny parts expanded, and when we were in the editing room, we made sure that there was funny stuff throughout. You know, it’s probably funnier in the second season because we did so much work in laying out the story in the first season. In episode six of season two, when we get to the trial, we will have earned our right to be sillier and goofier because we’ve spent 11 episodes traveling down this line and serving the story. So we just go nuts!

Has your work on projects like Mr. Show helped you in creating vignettes like you’ve created on this show?
Maybe? Certainly not consciously. But perhaps I have learned over time, and it’s become intuitive. I think what differentiated Mr. Show sketches from the sketches you saw on a lot of other shows is that they had a beginning, middle, and an end. Bob [Odenkirk] and I both didn’t like how SNL sketches would sometimes end only with the camera pulling back and people clapping, there wasn’t anything that really ended the sketch. So maybe that’s just an extension of the way I think but it’s not something that I did, “Hmmmm…. let me harken back to the days of Mr. Show, what would I do here?”

What happens after Todd Margaret? What else do you have coming down the pike?
I just shot a movie in L.A. that I haven’t seen yet, but I have high hopes for it. It’s called It’s a Disaster, it’s a kind of indie comedy/dark comedy that is very talky. It’s four couples in various stages of their relationships who are at a house having brunch when, unbeknownst to them, a bunch of dirty bombs are set off in the downtown area of LA near their house. The audience knows before they do that something terrible has happened and they end up stuck in this house knowing that they [the actors] are going to die … and it’s made into comedy. It’s not broad in any way at all. But the cast was fucking awesome — it was a thrill, it was a pleasure to do. It was also a role that I don’t get to do very much, which is a kind of straighter guy. That’ll be, I imagine, the next thing you can see of mine. I’ll probably be in some more Modern Family episodes. That’s a great set to be on.
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