interview by darby o'gill
illustration by funk amphibian








darby: What does sperm taste like? Oh man, I'm so sorry. I had two sets of questions; this set was for the whore out in front of the theatre, just in case we didn't get to interview you. I'm so sorry. Here we go. The David Cross questions. That's so embarrassing. First question: What does sperm taste like-- ah-- let's just skip that one.

David: You don't have to only ask a whore. I'm pretty sure other people know what it tastes like.

d: One of your earliest gigs was as a writer on The Ben Stiller Show. When did you get interested in acting?

D: Well, I had been acting. I did some plays and stuff. I went to a school for the arts, so I did a lot of theatre there. I also had a sketch group in Boston, and did some sketches and stand-up during my teenage years.

d: Lets talk a little about Mr. Show. How did it originally come about?

D: There's this really cool alternative comedy scene in LA that Bob Odenkirk and I were kind of a part of. We would do these sketch shows, everybody would do different kinds of skits, and Bob and I knew each other from that. He had a Tuesday night show, and suggested we write a few sketches together. We later did some other stuff, and found that we really worked well together. We both had very different styles and ideas. One day we just decided to do our own show. We did a few shows in these little theatre houses. By the second or third show, we realized it would make a cool TV show. So we would videotape stuff, and that was how the show started.

d: Mr. Show had a unique way of connecting all the skits. As one sketch would end, the next would continue from the last part of the first sketch. How did that come to be?

D: It was just a decision we made. I had done stuff like that in the show I had in Boston; where characters would walk in one door and out the other as a different character. It's just something Bob and I decided to do. It's a bummer. I regret it sometimes.

d: Really?!

D: Yeah. It just took so much work to pull them off.

d: Well, it worked. It really made the show stand out.

D: Definitely.

d: Having Mr. Show on HBO gave you some freedom in the material you used. Did they ever tell you guys you couldn't do a certain sketch?

D: Only once did they make us cut a line, and it wasn't even an important line. Their notes were actually helpful in a way; they weren't silly or anything.

d: Not like a network's notes.

D: No, not at all. It was usually not about content, but more focusing on the scene and what worked.

d: Are there any skits you didn't get to do on Mr. Show, that you would have liked to do?

D: Tons. We look back on it now and go, “Fuck. I wish we had done such-and-such sketch.” There were little things here and there. We wrote a whole film script that we abandoned to write another movie, because we thought it was a better “first movie” to do. If that were out now, it would seem amazing. A lot of the ideas are coming to prove themselves in reality. Does that make sense? Prove themselves in reality? I don't think so, but you know what I mean.

d: I know what you mean. You just hinted upon the fact that soon Mr. Show will make the jump to the big screen with Run Ronnie Run!. What's the latest with that project?

D: I don't know. I wish I did. Everybody asks me, and I've got no news. There was talk it was going to come out in April, and then they pulled it from that date. And now I don't know if they have any plans to even release it.

d: Are they just trying to find a good release date, or what?

D: I don't think so. I think it's just that they don't know what to do with it, and they don't know how to market it. They also don't know about all these people (referring to the fans outside waiting to get into the show). It's frustrating! I've sold out every show. It's frustrating when they don't think there's a market for it.

d: There's a rumor that the Mr. Show DVD set has been delayed. Is that true?

D: Well, there never was a release date for that. They were talking about releasing it when the movie came out, so they could save a dollar on marketing. But now I’ve heard, and I have no idea if it's true, but June 11th is the date I’ve heard.

d: I'm looking forward to that set.

D: It's good. We did audio commentary for it and threw some extra stuff on there. It's the first ten episodes.

d: Mr. Show also gave birth to the hell spawn, better known as Tenacious D. Did you know at the time they would become so huge?

D: Well, yes and no. You don't really think about it. I mean, you hope for success, but you don't really think about what that success will be. I don't think that we anticipated that they would blow-up as crazy big and as quickly as they did. Jack's acting and all that stuff helps. But yeah, they're great. They're a fun act. Both Bob and I are very proud to have helped those guys.

d: During your career you have made many appearances on some great shows; you must hate when people ask you which was the most enjoyable--

D: I've never had that question before.

d: Which was the most enjoyable?

D: None. Actually, I don't know. They're all nice people. I shouldn't say none; they're just not anything that I remember. I don’t have these great memories of the week I worked on News Radio, you know? They're just nice. You go and do the show, have some fun, and then you leave. Then you get a residual check every six months, for like $32 or something.

d: In your professional opinion, do dogs have lips?

D: Professionally, no. But, just as a person speaking outside of the profession, yes.

d: Do you find it easier to act in a wheelchair?

D: NO! I don't. That was a bummer. It's not good.

d: One of my favorite skits from Mr. Show, was the religious episode.

D: Yeah. “Hail Satan”. That one?

d: Yeah. You played a kid in a wheelchair; he couldn't stand, because he was too lazy.

D: That was a funny sketch. Bob's brother, Bill, wrote that one.

d: Here's a word problem for you: Vinnie ate 100 cookies in five days. Each day he ate six more than the day before. How many cookies did he eat on the first day?

D: Tulsa, Oklahoma.

d: What were some of your earliest inspirations?

D: I would say Richard Pryor. To me, he was the best comedian of all-time; the most perfect mix of everything. I was also a big Andy Kaufman fan, just for his redefinition of what is funny. I was a Lenny Bruce fan in my idealistic youth.

d: Did anyone ever tell you that you look nothing like Nicholas Cage? It's uncanny. You look nothing like him.

D: Actually, I get that a lot.

d: If they ever made a David Cross action figure, what would its accessories be?

D: A special thing that helps decrease baldness. You know, so you could take like little layers of it off, as I evolve into bald, and eventually die. It would also have totally rad glasses.

d: I did an interview with Jon Favreau a few months ago, and you two have something in common. You both have done voice work on Disney's cartoon series Hercules. Do you enjoy doing voice work?

D: Wow! Where the fuck did you get that? Yeah. That is actually the easiest money you can fuckin’ make. You go in for a session, and I think you get something crazy like $2000 or something like that. You go in, and you literally spend a half-an-hour doing some lines, two or three times. You just do those, and then you leave. You go home. It's fuckin’ sweet.

d: I also noticed that you're going to be in Men In Black 2 this summer. Please don't take this the wrong way, but didn't you die in the first Men In Black?

D: YEAH! That was fuckin’ weird! The director really liked me, and he wanted me to be in this movie. Just like the first one, it was another small part. We were on the set shooting the first scene. I think we had shot it twice, when he came over in the middle of shooting, and he says, "What if you're the same guy, from the last movie?" I was like, “How would that work?” He just wrote some lines down, and says, "Say this, 'You don't remember me? I was the guy you slimed.'" And that was that.

d: You and Bob Odenkirk attend a lot of film festivals; are there any independent films that stood out to you last year?

D: My two favorite movies from last year were Sexy Beast and Together. It was a Swedish film. It's fucking awesome, man. It takes place in Stockholm in '76 or '77, and it's about a commune, and all these dysfunctional people within it. Initially, I was turned off by it, because I saw the poster, and it had flowers all over it.

d: What does the future hold for David Cross?

D: Assassination.

d: Performing or receiving?

D: Both! Receiving after performing.

d: Finally, David, I would like to ask you this last question in the voice of your favorite interviewer, James Lipton: If there is a God, what would you like to hear him say as you enter The Pearly Gates?

D: “I didn't mean you!”