Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

David Cross

Illustration for article titled David Cross

Fans of David Cross’ best work—Mr. Show, Arrested Development—are quick to whine when the actor/comedian takes bill-paying parts in big Hollywood movies. But Cross makes no apologies for appearing in the Chipmunks movies or anything else; they’re all in a day’s work, and clearly not where his heart is. Beyond that, they help facilitate passion projects like The Increasingly Poor Decisions Of Todd Margaret, a hilarious British-American production that he co-created, co-writes, and stars in. (The show’s second and final season begins airing January 6 on IFC.) For this edition of Random Roles, Cross gamely spoke about the good roles and the bad.


The Increasingly Poor Decisions Of Todd Margaret (2010-present)—“Todd Margaret”
David Cross: I’m very proud of it. I haven’t done anything as realized as Todd Margaret, but I think looking back at some of my earlier work, the evolution makes sense. And it was very, very fun and satisfying to do and a privilege to get to go to London on somebody else’s dime for the better part of two years to do this show. And I would love to continue making stories, television stories, for a U.K.-American audience. It was great. It was pretty gratifying on many levels.

The A.V. Club: This is the end, right? This next batch gets us to the end of the story?

DC: That was always going to be the case. It was never going to go beyond that.

AVC: The last time we spoke, you weren’t sure if that was two seasons or three seasons.

DC: You have to get the second season by acquiescing to a third season. You can’t go, “Hey guys, I’ve got a great idea for a show. Twelve episodes and you’ll never see it again!” Nobody’s going to want to do that. So when you see the final episode, including the cold tag, it becomes apparent that the story is over. And we sent that script to IFC and they were slightly slow on the uptake, but then we started getting notes back like, “But wait a minute, how can you do that? What about a third season?” And that’s of course, like, “Guys, there’s not going to be a third season.” If for no other reason than—as much as I love London and I love the people there—I don’t want to spend a third nine months there by myself. It gets pretty lonely. You can only have so many meals by yourself before it starts affecting you.

AVC: Are you trying to intimate that Todd Margaret dies?

DC: That’s not necessarily what I mean. But it will become apparent that a third season would be wildly different. But it’s a moot point because there’s not going to be a third season because the story is done. To go further or to do a prequel would be very artificial, and it would sully the work that’s there now. I truly believe that this, like a lot of stuff I’ve done, won’t get its due when it’s out. But later on, especially when people are able to see the 12 episodes back-to-back as opposed to tuning in every week and seeing commercials and all that stuff… If you can watch it from beginning to end, the layers of the story and the work we did to thread these different things and create this world that’s plausible… It has a lot of logic issues to it, but it’s really a pretty detailed story that you just don’t see much in TV comedies. I think it’ll be appreciated more as a whole than as the sum of its parts.


AVC: Do you have a particular moment that stands out? I remember reading something about the Remembrance Day episode, how expensive but gratifying that was to do. [In the scene, Cross’ character interrupts a solemn outdoor ceremony to try and pimp his company’s energy drink, Thunder Muscle.]

DC: That was easy to write, but to give that to a director and a production team, they’re like, “Look, we have no money. How are we gonna make this work?” I ended up putting my own money into the budget for that shot—most of what I was making for that series. And when we wrote an alternate scene, it just didn’t have the punch or the weight. Now, it won’t resonate as much with American audiences, and keep in mind that one of the challenges was to make it both for a U.K. audience and for an American audience. You can never just dismiss one culture out of hand, like, “Oh, they won’t get it.” There just simply isn’t anything close to, in America, Remembrance Day. We have Memorial Day, but nobody really gives a shit. There’s the Fourth Of July, but that’s sort of a party. Remembrance Day is really solemn, and we just don’t have that in the States. Nothing close. The whole country stops, you know? And to do that scene, that’s the equivalent of pissing on Jesus, in a way.


AVC: Which maybe you could do in your next series for American TV.

DC: Sure. I’ll call it “Pissing On Jesus.” That’s the title.

AVC: Do you have something else you’re masterminding that you want to do for yourself?


DC: Yes, I have two ideas. One I can’t really talk about, but I’ll be pitching that one in L.A. in two weeks and hopefully I’ll get a chance to do that. And reasons will become apparent, if I’m able to do this, why I can’t talk about it. And another idea that I have is just for me to write and produce and direct and not be in front of the camera, which I’m kinda looking forward to doing. As much as I love doing everything on Todd Margaret, it would be easier to just sort of write and direct and not have to act or have my focus taken away. So I’d like to do that. I’m writing it with Bob [Odenkirk] in mind, for the lead.

Alvin And The Chipmunks: Chipwrecked (2011)—“Ian Hawke”
AVC: Let’s go briefly to the other end of the pleasant-experience spectrum. You had some sort of press-conference hullabaloo recently where you said you had a really bad experience on the third Chipmunks movie.


DC: Well, it wasn’t a press conference. I didn’t call a press conference to tell the world about my experience. I was actually doing press for Todd Margaret, and somebody asked me about it. And then, because I have that problem that not many people have where I’m honest, I answered the question honestly. I’m not gonna go into the whole thing. I’ve actually done a number of sets where I’ve talked about it, and I actually have a slideshow that I put together. I get a screen and talk through the experience and show some photos that I took. It had nothing to do with anybody but a couple producers. Everybody else was cool, and for the most part, for most of the people, it was our third movie together. Nobody was anything but professional. It was just a couple producers who were just… You know when you go through life and there are these occasions where, like, maybe your flight is delayed? And there’s nothing you can do about it, but somebody is a total fucking cunt or psycho asshole and they’re yelling and screaming at somebody who can do nothing about it. Or somebody’s at Starbucks and their muffin wasn’t right and they’re just pricks. Rude, abrasive, entitled pricks. And one of the most frustrating aspects about that is, you don’t have to be like that. That’s a choice you’re making, to be difficult and an asshole and bumming everybody out. And you’re just petty and immature, and that’s the kind of behavior and attitude and personality I apply to a couple of the producers.

They were just so shitty and vindictive. They’re weird. I’ve been doing this for 18 years, something like that, and I’ve been in a ton of shit. And nothing even came close to how disrespected I was made to feel in this movie. At one point they were like, “Hey, we’re paying you a lot of money.” Which is true—the third picture in a series, when you’re contracted, you’re legally bound to do it. I couldn’t get out of it, and I didn’t try to, but they threatened to sue me, and it was just really shitty for my co-workers. And then they would pretend to be nice to me. That was the other thing that was kind of funny, like, “Oh, everything’s cool. That’s just what we do.” You know that kind of Hollywood stereotype of the people who would be really shitty and then laugh it all off like, “Hey, that’s what we do! That’s part of the job, you know? I like to win. What do you want me to tell ya? I like to win.” That kind of thing. It’s just a gross way to live your life. And unnecessary. It’s a choice to be a shitty, awful person. Making other people miserable because it makes you feel better or more powerful. It’s not anything I’ve ever really experienced before in this capacity.


AVC: Did anyone attempt to hug it out with you?

DC: No. I think they really had kind of that kind of attitude, that, “Yeah, that’s what we do. You got your job, I got my job.” But I’ve never been around that before. You hear about it sometimes, but I’ve never personally experienced it. And it really pissed off everyone. I’m saying too much. That’s in the past, though. They did it. It’s done. So there you go.


AVC: You said you’re doing a slideshow; were you serious? Are you doing a stand-up bit about that?

DC: Oh yeah. I was on a cruise ship for a week. I didn’t have to be on the cruise ship, but I was made to be on the cruise ship. And I have a whole 20-minute-long thing about being on a cruise ship, working on the movie, and please, let me make it perfectly clear that this has nothing to do with the cast or the crew. They were all great. This was our third movie, we’re all friendly, everything was cool. The director and the first AD, all the ADs, really had my back. They were very sympathetic to what I was dealing with and they were all super-cool and went out of their way to try to make things better. But it really came down to two or three producers. But yeah, I talk about that. I have a slideshow from the cruise ship that I took. I just talk about what it’s like to be in Alvin And The Chipmunks: Chipwrecked, with the Fox producers.


AVC: Last question about the Chipmunks, and it’s really just an opportunity for you to make a joke. You said the first Chipmunks movie got you your place upstate, and the second one got you the landscaping. What are you doing with the third-movie money?

DC: I’m buying one of those cargo-ship crates of Fleshlights. Half I’ll use for myself and the other half I’ll donate to children, kind of a Toys For Tots kind of thing. I’ll give it to needy kids.


Mr. Show With Bob And David (1995-1998)—various characters
AVC: I’m sure you’ve talked this to death, but do you have a sketch or a moment that stands out as representative of the show or as one of your favorite things you’ve done?

DC: There’s a show that stands out. I believe it was third season—it was the episode with prenatal pageants. They get the wish box—or the poo box, I think—and it winds all the way through the show. [It’s episode 403, “Rudy Will Await Your Foundation”—ed.] The beginning is the end and the end is the beginning. I think that was exemplary of what we could do on our really good days. Every sketch in that episode is a good amalgamation of what we did. We had stuff that was just silly and gross-funny, there was performance stuff, there’s more stuff with a tiny bit of a message, like the prenatal pageants thing. We also had really strong performances from the cast, and the entirety of the show was a bit trippy in how it started and had callbacks and stuff like that. I don’t remember the other things in there, but I just remember that it starts with the Bloopertron 3000 or something. But that episode is one of my favorites because of both the sum of its parts and the entirety of the show and what we did in that half-hour.


AVC: Do you feel like the Mr. Show name is in the past now? You guys have talked about doing another movie, or in years past you’ve talked about doing a tour. Is that retired now?

DC: I don’t think we’re going to do a tour, for two reasons: I think the time has passed for that, and when the time was right to do it, Bob and Naomi [Odenkirk] were raising their kids. They both work, and neither one of them wanted Bob to be gone that long. We tried a couple of ways to make it work, sort of sketched out some ideas, broke it up into regions—like 10 shows in 14 days, you could go home for this day. We tried, and I think the timing was off. I think now it’s too late and I wouldn’t want to do it anyway. I just feel like it’s a little unseemly for guys who are almost 50 to go out there and put on wigs and play teenagers. I’ll keep working with Bob. I’m gonna do a show at the Vancouver Comedy Festival with him in February, and I’m sure we’ll do some stupid shit. But as far as touring and stuff, I think, unfortunately, that ship has sailed. Actually, it didn’t sail. It was in the dock and then the dock ran out of water.


Arrested Development (2003-2006)—“Tobias Fünke”
AVC: I’m sure you’re sick of this, so just give us the quick update.

DC: I know as much as you do, and I get my information from the same sources. So pretty much I know what we all know, which is that there was a deal with Netflix, and I don’t know how solid that deal was. I know what the idea was, as do you—that there’d be a half-hour episode dedicated to each character to catch us up and then that would roll into the movie. And that’s all I’ve got. I think that’s all anybody really knows.


AVC: Assuming that is what the deal is, do you feel confident that that team can get back together and find the same magic?

DC: Yeah. I absolutely do. Between Mitch [Hurwitz] and Jim [Vallely] writing and Mitch directing, and the same—relatively the same—crew and producers and cast, yeah. There’s no doubt in my mind. And it really became solidified in my mind when we all got together for the first time in many years at that New Yorker festival thing. There was so much good, positive energy and genuine excitement to be together and work together again.


Pootie Tang (2001)—“Pootie Tang imposter”
DC: I remember being in New York and Louis C.K. calling me—Louis and I are old, old friends, going back to the Boston days. We were roommates briefly, actually. He called and asked me if I would do it. I knew the character from The Chris Rock Show, and I’d seen all of Louis’ prior movies so I had a fairly good idea about what the tone would be and what it would look like. I must have gotten a ride or something, because they shot in some shitty part of Jersey or some shitty place like 40 minutes away, maybe near Astoria or something. I think a van showed up and I got in it and went to the set and shot the thing, and then went home.

AVC: Do you remember seeing it for the first time? It’s kind of a wonderful mess.


DC: I was lucky enough to see it very, very rough, to see a bunch of segments that Louis was cutting on his computer in his apartment in New York. I saw it before the studio took it away from him and made him do all those changes, which are mildly heartbreaking. That whole idea of a narrator never existed; they really condescend quite a bit to the audience. So I got to see it before all that crap was put in there, and the music was different, and the tone. That’s how I remember seeing it, and it was cool. It was funny, that’s for sure.

Run Ronnie Run (2002)—“Ronnie Dobbs”
AVC: Do you see any parallels with Run Ronnie Run? The meddling studio…


DC: No, because Louis was the director. I mean, yes, there’s a parallel in the sense that there are artists who created the idea, who know the idea inside and out, who have what they think is the best approach to what the movie should be, and then there are external forces who don’t, who are trying to market it and make as much money as they can. And those two things are at odds quite often. With Bob and I, where we met some of our obstacles was with one of the creative team, so there’s a difference there, I suppose. But to be fair, the script we did for Run Ronnie Run was, I think, our fourth or fifth version. And it initially was much more like the Mr. Show movie, where there were tons of different sketches, and Ronnie Dobbs and Terry were the characters who took you to these sketches on their cross-country tour, and it didn’t concentrate on this idea of just doing the Ronnie Dobbs story. And every time we would send a script or submit the script or do a read-through, we would be asked to kind of scale back the other stuff and concentrate more on the Ronnie Dobbs thing. So it started changing fairly early on in the process. We were still happy with the Ronnie Dobbs idea, but unfortunately that just didn’t work out. But Bob and I still feel very confident that if we could edit it we could make a much funnier movie.

AVC: Does the raw footage still exist somewhere?

DC: I have no idea. No idea.

AVC: If somebody presented you with a hard drive full of that raw footage, would you want to re-edit it?


DC: Yep. Absolutely. I would postpone what I’m doing. It would be fun, and it would be a lot of work, but it would be fun. And no small part of it would be the “See, I told ya” part of it. But we could definitely make a funnier movie.


Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind (2004)—“Rob”
DC: That was one of those movies—and there are a number of them, I would say about half—that were smaller things where you get a call like, “Hey, we’re doing this thing, Michel Gondry’s doing it and he’s a big fan, and do you want to be a part of it?” It’s a small part, but I didn’t even have to see it. It was a Charlie Kaufman movie that Michel Gondry was directing. It was like I’m Not There, just being able to work with Todd Haynes: You don’t have to tell me what it is, I don’t need to see a script. I’m there. Just tell me when to show up. Absolutely, whatever you want. That was one of them. And that was fun. I’m proud to be a part of it, albeit a tiny part. It’s still something I feel happy about. The only bummer was shooting in Montauk in February. That was a bit rough. But yeah, it was a cool experience.


AVC: Was Gondry a Mr. Show fan?

DC: Hardcore, like quoting stuff I had completely forgotten, or I’m not even sure what they’re talking about. But they’re big time junkies, he and his son.


AVC: So Michel Gondry, Todd Haynes—anyone else on your wish list of directors?

DC: Oh, gosh. Jeez. Yeah, I really like the Coen brothers. Not just because of the stuff they write and the ideas they have, but how the actors work. And Alexander Payne. Any movie where there’s a scene that’s allowed to develop by itself, kind of the opposite of Tony Scott moviemaking, where there’s room to breathe and find stuff while you’re shooting, where it’s not all kind of bombastic. Who else? There must be a million people. I’m just spacing now because I feel like I’m on the spot.


AVC: I’ll offer P.T. Anderson.

DC: Yeah! There you go. Perfect. And Aronofsky. That kind of approach to moviemaking. Yeah.


I’m Not There (2007)—“Allen Ginsberg”
AVC: Was that another movie where the director, Todd Haynes, was a fan of your work and you just got a call?

DC: I got a call. I think it probably had more to do with the fact that I could potentially resemble Allen Ginsberg. And then when that was brought to his attention he went, “Oh, God, yeah! That’d be great.” A lot of these guys, we kind of have mutual friends. I may not know them personally, but we certainly have a number of mutual friends. And I was a huge Todd Haynes fan, and man, that guy could not be cooler. That guy is awesome. But yeah, so that was another one when I got a call, I don’t even remember when or how or where, but I know it shot in Montreal, and I flew up there and it was really sweet and nice. I worked for two days and that was it.


AVC: Had it occurred to you before that you might resemble Allen Ginsberg?

DC: Yeah, that’s been pointed out. Plus I live in the East Village, so it’s kind of iconic here.


AVC: I just didn’t know if you would be insulted or pleased getting that call.

DC: Eh, neither. A Jew’s a Jew. What are ya gonna do?

AVC: Is that what it is? “Get the closest Jew”?

DC: The hairy Jew.

Tim And Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! (2007)—“Pizza Boy”
AVC: You were in a few Awesome Show episodes, but maybe best as Pizza Boy. You and Bob were early adopters of those guys.


DC: Bob more than I. Bob initially was the guy that was like, “These guys are great!” But we both saw how great and funny and interesting they were. And when we were talking about doing a show, Bob was the one—and it didn’t make sense to me and I had a much different idea of what to do with them—who insisted they do Tom Goes To The Mayor. I was like, “Really? That’s the last thing I would have thought.” I had a completely different idea. And to Bob’s credit, once again, he was right about that.

AVC: Are you in their movie?

DC: Nope.

AVC: Are you angry about that?

DC: I’m furious.

Year One (2009)—“Cain”
AVC: Here’s an interesting one, a movie that seemed to have a lot of potential. But you ended up being the best part of a movie that fell apart and wasn’t great. In getting a script like that or agreeing to that movie, do you have a sense of how that’s going to turn out, if you’re an actor in someone else’s movie?


DC: Sometimes you do and sometimes you don’t. I think I had pretty high hopes about that, but we shot and it wrapped and everything and I got an email about doing reshoots. And this was a month later, they still had that big huge whatever it is set up—the Biblical city, that Romanesque setup there. That was a good six weeks later, when we were all doing other things, and they were like, “You have to go back to Shreveport for 10 days, for reshoots.” They were reshooting the ending. I really liked the ending that was originally shot, and I felt like the ending that they went to reshoot was more of a feel-good, bullshitty kind of thing. And that was probably the first time when I was like, “Uh-oh, wait a minute.” But it’s a big-budget movie, and they want to get their money back. But that was one of the top three most fun sets I’ve been on. It was a very fun movie to shoot. It was cool to be around Harold Ramis and listen to his stories. He’s really interesting and he’s had an interesting career and life, and he’s an interesting guy to talk to.

Freak Show (2006)—various characters
AVC: At the time Freak Show was debuting, you said you felt really great about it, and then it ended up just going one season. What do you think misfired?


DC: I’ve thought about this. I think there were three big mistakes made—all three rectifiable, but they weren’t. One is, I think Jon [Benjamin] and I were lazy in writing it, in the sense that, when I look back… Let me preface this by saying that I think it’s funny and I like it and it makes me laugh. I enjoy the performances in it and the writing. I don’t think it’s the smartest thing I’ve ever done, but it’s funny and goofy. Whatever. But I think Jon and I were ultimately lazy in writing it, because when I watch it, I see room for one and a half times as many jokes. There should have been way more jokes, and visual jokes, and playing with the idea of animation. There were just all kinds of opportunities: signage jokes, and quick little dumb asides, stuff like that, that just aren’t in there. We missed a lot of opportunities to do that.

I think the other mistake was that the animation was really poor. The animators missed opportunities for jokes, too. It’s not a very appealing animated style, I guess. And then it was marketed completely the opposite way it should have been marketed. They marketed it as a superhero spoof, which it isn’t. That was always—and we pitched it this way—just a context to frame all this other goofy comedy within it. And it really concentrated on this idea that it was a superhero spoof, which is really going to turn off my fans and Jon Benjamin’s fans, who think we’re doing a comedy but we’re just doing a superhero thing. I think people would be like, “I’m not interested in that at all.” And then people who don’t really know us, or who are interested in comic books and superhero stuff, would tune in and go, “Well this isn’t a fucking good spoof at all. I don’t even get it.” And it was just a bad idea. But everyone has a little piece of the blame to take in that, and certainly Jon and I, as I said, we could have put in way more jokes. But I still think it’s funny. I think the ideas in it are funny. I don’t think it’s the greatest thing ever, but you know. It’s the first six episodes. Barely anything resembles what it looked like in the first six episodes.


Oliver Beene (2003-2004)—“Narrator”
DC: I remember it was early voiceover work for me, and I like doing voiceover work. But I remember that there seemed to be an elephant in the room that nobody would talk about, even when I would bring it up as a joke or a little aside—that it was a complete rip-off of The Wonder Years. And The Wonder Years was a rip-off on Jean Shepherd movies. The Wonder Years at least expanded on that thing that Jean Shepherd did, but Oliver Beene came to be a direct lifting, the style, everything about it. I can’t say that I thought it was funny or clever, but as far as a job went where you go into a recording studio and record it, it was fun. It’s innocuous and forgotten, I suppose. Not very offensive. It just sort of came and went, and it filled the niche for a couple years. And there you go.

AVC: Was that a weird time for you? It seems like you weren’t involved in anything that was particularly your thing in the 2000s. But you popped up in other people’s movies doing small stuff.


DC: The Oliver Beene time? What year was that?

AVC: That was 2003. I guess I’m thinking about Men In Black, if you want to talk about that.


Men In Black (1997)—“Newton”
DC: Oh, that was way earlier. Men In Black was like the first or second year of Mr. Show. And, as you know, Mr. Show didn’t really catch on until after the third season, so outside of some hardcore comedy fans in L.A., nobody really knew about it until the third season had aired. And at that point, you’re still running around auditioning for stuff, because nobody knows what Mr. Show is. There were a number of periods in my career where, if you don’t work for a while, six months goes by and you take what you’re given and you work. You don’t have the luxury of going, “No, I’m not going to do that.” Not that I have anything negative to say about Men In Black, or the experience. It was fine. It was great. But it was one of those things where if you get the role, you take it. Doesn’t matter what it is, you need to work. After two years of Mr. Show and then shooting the third season, nobody knew if anything was going to happen with it. There’s no guarantee that you’ll ever work again, you know?

Scary Movie 2 (2001)—“Dwight”

AVC: I only want to bring up Scary Movie 2 because I found an interview with you on YouTube that you did for some Spanish-language entertainment show, and you seem to be trying really, really hard to be polite about it.


DC: Uh-huh.

AVC: And you say something like, “I would never ascribe the word ‘acting’ to what I’m doing in this movie,” but that’s kind of the most negative thing you say about it. You just kind of say, “Oh, yeah, we’re having fun.”


DC: Scary Movie is clearly not for me. People love it. I still, almost on a daily basis, in part because I live in the East Village, get recognized for Scary Movie. Yesterday, a cop on Sixth Avenue was like, “Hey!” and did that thing where he was pointing, trying to figure out who I was. I walked another 10 feet and he yelled out, “Do another Scary Movie!” And that is that audience. And it’s not for me, and it’s not for you, but for better or for worse, roughly 75 million Americans fuckin’ love it. Love it! The height of comedy! And that was another thing where I was offered some good money and an opportunity to get my face out there. And then I was confronted with additional pages in my trailer, and they’re like, “Oh, in this scene you’re gonna try to suck your own dick.”

AVC: That scene wasn’t what attracted you to the role?

DC: That script was rewritten like every hour. It wasn’t even finished when they started shooting, because the first one made so much money. It was pretty crazy to see how much money they sunk into that thing. But again, I’ve had better experiences, I’ve had worse. It is what it is, and I’m glad I get to leave that as part of my legacy and hopefully my children’s children will grow up to respect their old grandpa when they pop that in the ol’ DVD player.


AVC: Well, maybe you’ll get out of a parking ticket or a speeding ticket at some point.

DC: Yeah, true. There’s plenty of Puerto Rican and Dominican cops.

Waiting For Guffman (1996)—“UFO Expert”
AVC: On the opposite end of the comedy spectrum, you have one scene in Waiting For Guffman. You always hear about the improvisational nature of Christopher Guest movies, and how there are, like, six-hour cuts out there. Did you do a lot more, do you remember?


DC: I didn’t do additional scenes, but I guess on the day, we probably shot, I’m guessing, six takes, maybe? And he took what he wanted to take. I would do stuff, and they were very far away because it was in the middle of this crop circle thing. I would ramble and do stuff, and then he would yell “Cut!” and then it would take him almost a minute to get to where I was in the middle of the crop circle, and then he would just very politely go, “Uh, don’t say all this stuff you said. Don’t say this, don’t say that, do say this, do say that, say more of this, say less of that, mention this.” And then he would walk back to the chair and he’d yell “Action” again and it would just sorta go. It was strange in the sense that there was no feedback; I couldn’t even see where anybody was. But it was a thrill to be able to work with him and get a ride home from the set back to Austin with him. One of the highlights of my life.

A Bucket Of Blood (1995)—“Charlie”
DC: That was Mike McDonald, who went off to be a longtime cast member of MADtv. Showtime was doing this very low-budget, purposefully low-budget thing where they were trying to replicate a sort of Roger Corman-esque factory in a sense. So they redid all these old films, and Michael, who I knew from the Groundlings, who I would hop on and do shows with them occasionally, just asked me to do this thing and I shot for like, two days. It was me and Will Ferrell, and I think we had some kind of a weird exchange under a stairwell. I don’t remember much of that. But yeah, that was another kind of L.A. crowd all working with each other. I imagine there were other people that I know there.


AVC: Do you remember if it was any good?

DC: I never saw it.

Celebrity Poker Showdown (2004)—himself
DC: Oh, that was a blast, man! I really had fun doing that. There was a weird moment when I found out, like, 40 minutes before we were shooting that Scott Stapp was replacing someone. But yeah, I really enjoyed that. That was fun to do.


AVC: You still play?

DC: I wouldn’t say regularly, but I still pop in on games if there are games to be played. My girlfriend [Amber Tamblyn] plays a lot, and she was on that show as well. And I was able to raise $50,000 for a veterans’ charity, which was good.


AVC: You have some Scott Stapp story about that, right?

DC: I think that’s on the first CD. In fact, I know it is. Was it the first CD? Maybe the second. No, it was the first one. I don’t know if I told this on the CD, but I went down to the suite they had in the casino for hair and makeup, and I went and grabbed some coffee, waited in a chair. And they were talking about somebody who had just been in there, saying, “What a prick, what an asshole! Who does he think he is?” And that’s how I found out that it was Scott Stapp. When I went down there, I was like, “Oh, jeez, I’m gonna have to get this out of the way. We’re about to sit and stare at each other for an hour.” And I had no idea if he knew about some of the shit I’d said about him. I had no idea if that had ever made it to his ears. So we all kinda meet and they’re going over the rules, and he’s across the table from me. Small poker table. And I lean my hand in when I went to shake his hand and I said, “Hey, Scott. David Cross,” and he shook my hand and he pulled me into him and half-whispered, “Thanks for the words,” and I went, “Well, you know.” That answered my question— he clearly knew who I was. Or at least what I’d said. “Thanks for the words.”


AVC: But then it wasn’t an uncomfortable game? And you won, right?

DC: I think I knocked him out, too. And I almost said, “This is for every artist on Matador.” I was gonna say that when I put my hand down. But then I was like, “What if I can’t beat him? That would be awkward.” But now in hindsight I regret not saying that.