If you chart the course of any comedian’s career, you see hills and valleys, but David Cross seems to have broken that mold and consistently climbs higher and higher up the mountain of success. From his legendary role on Arrested Development, to being the manager of Alvin, Simon and Theo, to his dabbling in Marvel’s cinematic universe, to writing on the under-appreciated completely influential Ben Stiller Show, to pairing up with Bob Odenkirk for the four star Mr. Show and a constantly evolving life onstage doing comedy, to name a few things, Cross has become, by hook or crook, one of America’s most cherished voices.
Cross is currently on tour with his newest performance, The Worst Daddy in the World (he became a dad seven years ago at age 52), and is coming to the Rio Theatre on October 26th. During this performance Cross will reflect on being a dad, but he also takes on the world at large and translates the zeitgeist into jokes and stories that put things into a saner perspective.
From his home in Brooklyn, New York, Cross has no problem talking about how his life in comedy started in Georgia. “My 19th birthday was the first time I did an open mic. For 99.9% of stand ups, the first year, at least, is a struggle. You go to every open mic night and you’re probably getting some hosting work, but nothing significant. Then I moved to Boston, and the scene was so thriving and it was already legendary at that point. And then I got lucky, very lucky.”
Cross’ arrival in Boston coincided with the infamous Comedy Boom, where comedy took the nation by storm and every major city suddenly had a high demand for stand-up comics. Boston was one of the major places where the Comedy Boom was occurring. “They had so many gigs available that they had to book every comic just to get bodies on stage. It didn’t matter if you were good or even funny or not, you got work,” says Cross.
When Cross arrived in 1983, the Boston comedy scene was run by some legendary alpha male comics like Lenny Clarke, Steve Sweeney and Denis Leary. “There were plenty of women comedians, but it was definitely a boys club, run by boys,” says Cross. A self-proclaimed “weirdo”, Cross was seeking a level of expression that transcended the typically misogynist comedy that was all the rage at the time. “I arrived in the middle of this burgeoning scene that officially, and lazily, became known as Alternative Comedy. I was in the mix of that stuff where people like Janeane Garofalo and Marc Maron and Louis C.K., and all these great comics, were starting to find their voice onstage. And our energy was different. We were younger and not so ensconced in the world.”
This collection of young comedians found a foothold in Boston at the club Catch A Rising Star and eventually became known as the Alternative Comedy movement. “We never labeled it that.” says Cross. “We knew we were different and had a different approach. It didn’t take too long for audiences to find us. We were young, a little punky, a little cocky. We didn’t walk around with matching jackets with Alternative Comic written on the back, but we definitely felt that something special was going on.” The alternative comedians just didn’t look like their predecessors. “We didn’t wear blazers with the sleeves rolled up and the skinny piano tie or anything like that. We wore ripped jeans, and shorts and bowling shirts or whatever. It was very organic and like any movement, we began to influence the comedians that came after us. It was not planned. We didn’t elect a group of officers and have meetings at the clubhouse. At a certain point other people started mentioning and writing about us.”
And the rest, as they say, is history. David Cross will be performing at The Rio Theatre, 1205 Soquel Avenue, on Thursday, October 26th. Tickets are available at www.riotheatre.com