Celebrity Then And Now
Posted by Ryan Neal
Celebrity Then And Now
Publication: RidiculouslyExtraordinary. Posted by Ryan Neal
Mr. Show with Bob and David, Arrested Development, Kung Fu Panda
Currently Known For:
Actor, Comedian, Director and Writer
1990s - Present
April 4, 1964
Mr. Show with Bob and David, Arrested Development, Kung Fu Panda
“You can’t just yell jokes at people.” David Cross is an actor, writer, director, and stand-up comedian who launched his career in the early 1990s before catching his big break alongside Bob Odenkirk on the HBO sketch comedy series Mr. Show with Bob and David from 1995 to 1998. The show’s success made Cross a staple in the comedy industry as he made his way into acting with several minor roles in films like The Truth About Cats & Dogs (1996), The Cable Guy (1996), Men in Black (1997), Dr. Dolittle 2 (2001), Scary Movie 2 (2001), Life Without Dick (2002), and Men in Black II (2002).Advertisements:
From 2003 to 2006, Cross found even bigger success when he was cast as Dr. Tobias Funke on the Fox situational comedy series Arrested Development. He earned a Screen Actors Guild Award nomination and a Satellite Award nomination for his performance and even reprised his role for a handful of appearances in 2013 and 2018 after Netflix brought the series back to life much to the delight of the show’s cult following. In recent years, he’s lent his voice to several characters in Sorry to Bother You (2018), Next Gen (2018), and Wonder Park (2019) in addition to creating, writing, and directing the 2018 television series, Bliss, and his podcast, The Official Podcast. Also known for his marriage to actress Amber Tamblyn and his recent return to stand-up comedy with tours like Making America Great Again and Oh Come On, let’s take a closer look at Cross’s life and career in the spotlight!Early Life and Career
“The best thing about me is there are no skeletons.” David Cross came into this world on April 4, 1964, in Roswell, Georgia as the son of an Englishman named Barry and his wife, Susi. Throughout Cross’s childhood, the family moved from Georgia to Florida and then Connecticut before they settled back down in Roswell, Georgia for nearly a decade. By this time, Cross’s father abandoned the family leaving him, his mother, and his two sisters to live in poverty. Before long, they were evicted from their home and spent a few months living with friends and at various motels when money allowed.
Despite his father abandoning his family, Cross credits him for introducing him to comedy as a child. “I didn’t have older brothers or sisters, but my dad was really responsible for [introducing me to comedy]; he got me into Abbott and Costello when I was a really little kid,” Cross recalled. “I was never one for, you know, Westerns or cop shows or anything like that. I always gravitated toward the comedy stuff… As I got older, it was Monty Python and I listened to Dr. Demento on the radio. I can’t remember when I first started getting my own comedy records, but I remember I had Richard Pryor, Jonathan Winters, Lenny Bruce, George Carlin, Steve Martin, and all the Python stuff, of course. Every other record I would buy was a comedy record.”
Cross attended Northside High School in Atlanta, Georgia and, with all the hardships of his life at home, focused on comedy to get through the tough times. Following his high school graduation, he moved to New York City but didn’t have a plan in place and spent the next year working odd jobs before he enrolled at Emerson College in Boston. Although he only spent a semester at the university, he met actor and comedian John Ennis in one of his classes and formed a quick friendship over their shared love of comedy. They formed their own college sketch group known as This is Pathetic.
In 1985, Cross and Ennis were determined to become professional actors and spent the summer driving cross-country to Los Angeles with the hopes of making it big in Hollywood. Unfortunately, they didn’t have much luck finding acting work as newcomers, which is why Cross gave up the search and returned to Boston to hone his talents as a stand-up comedian. Over the next few years, he performed at various Boston comedy clubs where his sense of humor and style of jokes paled in comparison to the more popular material—racist, loud, and distasteful humor—that audiences enjoyed at the time.
Fortunately, things changed in the early 1990s when Cross formed his next sketch comedy group known as Cross Comedy. The group performed at the Catch a Rising Star comedy club chain where Cross networked with notable comedians like Janeane Garofalo and Louis C.K. Before long, he was inspired to create new material and brought fake comedians on stage in addition to changing up his routine by hiring fake hecklers to call him out in the audience. This earned Cross a bigger audience and boosted his confidence as he traveled back to Los Angeles to try his new routine on the West Coast.Finding His Footing in Hollywood
“Sketches have characters, exits, entrances, and are vastly different.” Before long, Cross’s comedic style took hold in Hollywood and landed him his first comedy writing gig on The Ben Stiller Show (1992-1993). During his time on the show, he earned an Emmy Award for his comedy writing and met fellow comedian Bob Odenkirk, who played a big role in getting Cross’s comedy career to the next level. Together, the duo created a new sketch comedy series for HBO titled Mr. Show with Bob and David. Featuring comedians and writers like Sarah Silverman, Jack, Black, and Brian Posehn, the series earned four Primetime Emmy Awards and a Golden Satellite Award throughout its four-season run.
By the time Mr. Show wrapped in 1998, Cross already ventured into acting with credits in The Truth About Cats & Dogs (1996), The Cable Guy (1996), Waiting for Guffman (1996), Men in Black (1997), Small Soldiers (1998), and The Thin Pink Line (1998). On television, he made guest appearances on The Drew Carey Show (1996-1997), NewsRadio (1996-1998), Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist (1997-1998), Tenacious D (1997-2000), Space Ghost Coast to Coast (1997), and Hercules (1998). In the new millennium, Cross stayed busy as a voice actor lending his voice to characters in Home Movies (2001), Aqua Teen Hunger Force (2002-2008), Oliver Beene (2003-2004), and Crank Yankers (2003-2004).
Cross caught another break in 2003 when he was cast as Dr. Tobias Funke on Fox’s new sitcom, Arrested Development. The series follows the dysfunctional Bluth family and is known for its numerous catchphrases and tongue-in-cheek humor that earned it a cult following. Throughout his first three seasons on the show, Cross earned a Screen Actors Guild Award nomination for Outstanding Performance and a Satellite Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor. Despite this and the show’s cult following, Arrested Development failed to perform in terms of ratings and Fox canceled the series in 2006.
Over the next few years, Cross stayed busy on television and in film with credits in School for Scoundrels (2006), Alvin and the Chipmunks (2007), Kung Fu Panda (2008), Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel (2009), Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked (2011), and Kung Fu Panda 2 (2011). On television, he created, wrote, and associate produced The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret (2012-2012, 2016). He also had recurring roles on Archer (2011, 2018), Modern Family (2011-2012), and Comedy Bang! Bang! (2012-2013). Then, after nearly a decade of rumors about an Arrested Development reunion, Cross surprised fans when he reprised his role as Dr. Tobias Funke on Netflix’s reboot of Arrested Development in 2013.
Only reprising his role for a handful of episodes in 2013 and 2018, Cross focused most his energy on comedy and launched his first tour in six years, Making America Great Again, in 2016. The tour was another great feat as Cross released his comedy album of the same name and got to work on his next standup show, Oh Come On, which has kept him increasingly busy over the last few years. Of course, he’s added in new material since he and his wife, actress Amber Tamblyn, welcomed their daughter, Marlow Alice Cross, into the world on February 21, 2017. Cross is the first to admit that fatherhood has definitely influenced him for the better, not to mention giving him some new material, most of which he first tries out on his wife.
“My wife is very helpful and always has been. There are a couple of bits that I like that I dropped because she pointed out why something might not be that great,” he said. As for becoming a father, Cross says, “I’m sure that I got a good 20 minutes of material out of it—that’s always a plus. I thought I was going to have a tougher time adjusting to the sleep changes but I actually like getting up earlier and going to bed earlier than I have the most of my life. It’s great and it’s fun; obviously it’s got its difficulties and I’m thrilled that I get to raise a kid in Brooklyn.”
Apart from adding a few dad jokes to his set, Cross also admits that there are some definite changes in his lifestyle and his comedy set. “Roughly a third of it is dumb jokes that anybody can enjoy, roughly a third is anecdotal stories that happened to me, then roughly a third is topical political-type stuff,” he says. One other major difference is that Cross has sobered up a bit, which has affected his comedy. “I drink after the show but I’ve never ever in my whole career sat down with no material and said, ‘I’m going to get a new one hour and 15-minute set together.’ That was a new approach and I really enjoyed it. I was able to stay home and see my kid. I would just ride my bike or walk to various gigs.”
Cross admits that staying sober has made his set even tighter and more enjoyable because the audience has fun, which is another reason he loves stand-up. “Nothing will compare to it,” he admits. “There’s no studio head giving me notes; I don’t have to cut the set down, I don’t have to wait for anybody else to raise funding to get it done—it’s just me and a microphone. The immediacy and the give and take are something I really love.”Life Today
“Do these effectively hide my thunder?” While Cross certainly loves stand-up, that hasn’t stopped him from lending his hand to other projects. In 2018, he appeared as Pete “The Broker” Oakland in five episodes of Goliath and lent his voice to characters in Sorry to Bother You (2018) and Next Gen (2018). He also created, wrote, and directed a new television series, Bliss, which sadly didn’t get picked up as Cross hoped. “I was bummed,” he said. “We had the whole story, we knew exactly where it was going, and me and the other writers were excited about it, and just to finish the story much like the first series—it starts off one way and gets really dark by the end.”
Cross recognizes, however, the silver lining and admits that if Bliss was picked up, he wouldn’t have the opportunity to launch his Oh Come On tour. “I wouldn’t have got this set together, so you know, one door closes, the other opens,” he says. “As to why it didn’t take off, I don’t know. There were a handful of positive reviews, but it got some pretty bad reviews in the British press. I liked it.”
The 54-year-old Cross certainly sees the glass half full and admits that going back on tour has its benefits since many see comedy today as a type of activism and a way to share their fears on a comedic platform. “There’s something about having someone onstage articulating thoughts and putting things into words that maybe you can’t articulate otherwise,” he says. “And maybe that spurs the audience to do something. I suppose that’s activist. But I don’t approach it that way. It’s not my reason for doing this. I feel the same sense of anger and outrage and fear, and my reaction to that is to go onstage and scream about it.”