Television

Cross Examination: David Cross on His New Special, Trump, and (Of Course) Colonics

Photo: Shore Fire/Comedy Dynamics

David Cross, the alum of comedy classics like Arrested Development and Mr. Show, talks Trump, time travel, and his penchant for coming up with terrible names for his standup specials.

Oh, Come On
David Cross

Comedy Dynamics

10 May 2019

Intense contrast alert! At the time of David Cross' last stand-up special, released back in bygone August 2016, Trump wasn't President and Cross wasn't a father. The enormity of these changes, profound on political and personal levels -- one tragic, one joyous, both totally challenging -- is central to Oh, Come On. Parenting, his "Trump fantasy," and the joys of colonic therapy are among the special's themes.

Released by Comedy Dynamics, Oh, Come On will appear across multiple platforms and in theaters. As fans should expect, Cross's viciously-barbed wit is deployed with rapid-fire virtuosity. The comedian is clearly out for blood. Yet there's a vulnerable, highly approachable side to the set, and the material connects all the better for it.

On a call with PopMatters, David talks about the the Grateful Dead, New Age therapies, time travel, and the hard work of raising a daughter in a terrifying and imperfect world. Inspired by his assessment of dad jokes ("I happily accept their place") and some of the special's punishing working titles ("David Cross: Kidding Around").

It looks like you started developing the material in January of last year and went on an extensive tour for the second half of 2018, and the special is out in May. Is it strange to revisit and analyze something you've put behind you?

It is. But outside of the press for this, I haven't really been a part of it. I helped cut it together because the shows I do end up being closer to an hour and 45 minutes, so I had to cut some stuff out of there. And we even did that a while ago. I'm trying to think the last time I saw it ...yeah, I don't even know. But doing press for it, I certainly remember what the bits were for the most part, but it felt like it was years ago, you know?

Well, speaking of some bits, one of my favorites is one about a gentle health procedure, we'll say. Do you think there are any New Age or alternative medicine therapies that are actually legit?

Well, maybe. I know that they pretty much debunked [ear] candling, where you take a beeswax cone, and you lay on your side. That doesn't work. And I think a lot of it is psychosomatic. In theory, I guess it's good to flush your system out but you could easily do it too much and have a very negative effect, but I imagine once or twice is probably okay. I know that most vitamins have been debunked, and that's not New Age or holistic or anything. I don't know. I assume there are some effective treatments out there, but probably less than people would have you think.

I saw that your title, Oh, Come On came out of audience feedback while you were developing your set. Can you share any of your alternate, and perhaps terrible, working titles?

Well, it wasn't necessarily feedback. It was I had these other titles that were just terrible. I think one was ...it was a pun, oh what was it? It was some variation on something like "Kidding Around", using kid as a double meaning, like kidding and also a child. Something like, "Seriously Kidding". Something just terrible. And so I had like two or three of them. This happens every time, literally every time I come up with a special or a CD. The first three or four ideas I have are just awful. I mean beyond bad.

I remember where I was, I was at the Bell House and I was like, "What do you think of this title?" and they just booed it immediately, in a good-natured way, like "That's terrible." "All right, what about this one?" And they booed that one equally. And I was like, "All right, shit." And then two people, like at the same time in two different parts of the room, shouted out, "Oh, Come On." So I was like, "Oh, great. You're right. Done." And that was that.

"Kidding Around." That's not a super bad thought.

It's too cute, you know?

Well, it falls into dad joke territory, and I'd like to know, what is your estimation of the dad joke as a comedic form, and has the opinion changed at all after you became a dad?

Dad jokes have their place, just like puns and the less-cerebral stuff. There's nothing wrong with a dad joke at all. I mean, I don't want to indulge too many of those during a set, but yeah, if I'm with my family and I make some dumb jokes, that's fine. No problem with that. I am happy to accept their place. In society.

Do you feel like becoming a father has moved your standup in a more personal direction? Because Oh, Come On has some personal moments, which I truly loved. Has that fed into the work?

Yeah. I mean, that's for you to say. I think it has because the fragility of an infant or a toddler is a whole new thing to deal with, 24 hours a day. It's not like she came out and then all of a sudden I was a different person, but definitely, over time and fairly quickly, my consciousness is different. What's important and what's not important has shifted.

When I started developing that material, she was one. I think she was one and a half when I taped that special, and now that I'm talking to you at this point today she's two and change, and she's starting to really communicate and ask questions. She's not really asking questions, but you can see they're coming, they're just around the corner, and so, like I address in the special, what do I shield her from, knowing how awful people can be? Do you want them to trust people, or how much do you want them to not trust people?

That's the tricky thing that I'm aware of in a way that I never really was before, except in my own personal experience. How much truth do you give them so they can carry themselves through in this world and how much do you shield them from? Because you don't want them to be so cynical and jaded. That's sort of addressed in there, that's the biggest difference.

Something that was in your special, and I've picked up on in your comedy overall, is some riffing on the Grateful Dead. Why does that band suck for you and have you ever had a confrontation with a Deadhead?

I'll answer the second part first. I've never had a confrontation. I've had people good-naturedly be, "Hey, come on man, they're not all that bad." It's just a funny band to me, the whole genre and culture around it is funny. It's not harmful. And I've been to a bunch of Dead shows. There was like a year, year and a half period back in the '80s where it was just a great place to go and drop acid and just have like a two-day acid party you know? And people, 99% of them, are all cool and nice and it's a very safe atmosphere. I really didn't give a shit about the music but it was a fun way to spend a couple of days, especially when I had nothing to do. I didn't have a job. You go there, you meet new people and maybe you hook up with somebody, maybe you don't, whatever. But you just have fun and experience a bunch of drugs, and it was enjoyable.

But the music, and the devotion to the music, that's what was funny. They're not very good musicians. It's one thing when you go into the studio when you have all that time, but to listen to them on stage plinking and plonking around and things are out of tune, not that anybody gives a shit ... The lyrics are pretty insipid, and it just was the opposite of what I was into musically, which was way more kind of punk-y, jagged, edgy shit with angry lyrics and political lyrics. But it's pretty harmless.

I've seen another theme in your comedy, a theme of time travel, typically used to get a premise off the ground. If you had a time machine where would you go?

Well, first of all, I want to say that's really interesting. I don't think anybody else has observed that. I never thought about that. Can this time machine take me to other places? Or is it just wherever I get into that time machine and I get out of it, I'm going to be in the same place and it'll just be in the future or the past? Or does it also take you to other places?

Let's just say the same location.

Okay, okay. And I'm still the same age, right?

Sure.

I think I would spend one hour in a time machine that took me ten years into the future. And then I could decide whether I wanted to stay in America. Whether I'd come back and go, "It's all going to be okay," or do I come back and go, "Okay, we're selling the house. Pack up we're moving." I think that's what I'd do.

Related Articles Around the Web
Music


Books


Film


Recent
Television

'Everything's Gonna Be Okay' Is  Better Than Okay

The first season of Freeform's Everything's Gonna Be Okay is a funny, big-hearted love letter to family.

Music

Jordan Rakei Breathes New Life Into Soul Music

Jordan Rakei is a restless artistic spirit who brings R&B, jazz, hip-hop, and pop craft into his sumptuous, warm music. Rakei discusses his latest album and new music he's working on that will sound completely different from everything he's done so far.

Reviews

Country Music's John Anderson Counts the 'Years'

John Anderson, who continues to possess one of country music's all-time great voices, contemplates life, love, mortality, and resilience on Years.

Music

Rory Block's 'Prove It on Me' Pays Tribute to Women's Blues

The songs on Rory Block's Prove It on Me express the strength of female artists despite their circumstances as second class citizens in both the musical world and larger American society.

Music

The 50 Best Post-Punk Albums Ever: Part 3, Echo & the Bunnymen to Lizzy Mercier Descloux

This week we are celebrating the best post-punk albums of all-time and today we have part three with Echo & the Bunnymen, Cabaret Voltaire, Pere Ubu and more.

Books

Wendy Carlos: Musical Pioneer, Reluctant Icon

Amanda Sewell's vastly informative new biography on musical trailblazer Wendy Carlos is both reverent and honest.

Music

British Folk Duo Orpine Share Blissful New Song "Two Rivers" (premiere)

Orpine's "Two Rivers" is a gently undulating, understated folk song that provides a welcome reminder of the enduring majesty of nature.

Music

Blesson Roy Gets "In Tune With the Moon" (premiere)

Terry Borden was a member of slowcore pioneers Idaho and a member of Pete Yorn's band. Now he readies the debut of Blesson Roy and shares "In Tune With the Moon".

Books

In 'Wandering Dixie', Discovering the Jewish South Is Part of Discovering Self

Sue Eisenfeld's Wandering Dixie is not only a collection of dispatches from the lost Jewish South but also a journey of self-discovery.

Music

Bill Withers and the Curse of the Black Genius

"Lean on Me" singer-songwriter Bill Withers was the voice of morality in an industry without honor. It's amazing he lasted this long.

Film

Jeff Baena Explores the Intensity of Mental Illness in His Mystery, 'Horse Girl'

Co-writer and star Alison Brie's unreliable narrator in Jeff Baena's Horse Girl makes for a compelling story about spiraling into mental illness.

Music

Pokey LaFarge Hits 'Rock Bottom' on His Way Up

Americana's Pokey LaFarge performs music in front of an audience as a way of conquering his personal demons on Rock Bottom.

Music

Joni Mitchell's 'Shine' Is More Timely and Apt Than Ever

Joni Mitchell's 2007 eco-nightmare opus, Shine is more timely and apt than ever, and it's out on vinyl for the first time.

Music

'Live at Carnegie Hall' Captures Bill Withers at His Grittiest and Most Introspective

Bill Withers' Live at Carnegie Hall manages to feel both exceptionally funky and like a new level of grown-up pop music for its time.

Music

Dual Identities and the Iranian Diaspora: Sepehr Debuts 'Shaytoon'

Electronic producer Sepehr discusses his debut album releasing Friday, sparing no detail on life in the Iranian diaspora, the experiences of being raised by ABBA-loving Persian rug traders, and the illegal music stores that still litter modern Iran.

Television

From the Enterprise to the Discovery: The Decline and Fall of Utopian Technology and the Liberal Dream

The technology and liberalism of recent series such as Star Trek: Discovery, Star Trek: Picard, and the latest Doctor Who series have more in common with Harry Potter's childish wand-waving than Gene Roddenberry's original techno-utopian dream.

Music

The 50 Best Post-Punk Albums Ever: Part 2, The B-52's to Magazine

This week we are celebrating the best post-punk albums of all-time and today we have part two with the Cure, Mission of Burma, the B-52's and more.

Music

Emily Keener's "Boats" Examines Our Most Treasured Relationships (premiere)

Folk artist Emily Keener's "Boats" offers a warm look back on the road traveled so far—a heartening reflection for our troubled times.

Music

Paul Weller - "Earth Beat" (Singles Going Steady)

Paul Weller's singular modes as a soul man, guitar hero, and techno devotee converge into a blissful jam about hope for the earth on "Earth Beat".

Games

On Point and Click Adventure Games with Creator Joel Staaf Hästö

Point and click adventure games, says Kathy Rain and Whispers of a Machine creator Joel Staaf Hästö, hit a "sweet spot" between puzzles that exercise logical thinking and stories that stimulate emotions.

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews
Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.