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David Cross - Biography

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David Cross - Biography

Comedian David Cross

Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

Born:

April 4, 1964

David Cross Overview:

A pioneer of the "alternative" comedy movement, David Cross has always experimented with the stand-up form. In his early years, he would fool the audience into believing he was another character altogether (homosexual, or racist, or his own heckler, for example). As he became more recognizable, he wasn't able to do that. He stays away from traditional "joke" telling, instead spinning long stories or constructing seemingly stream-of-consciousness rants on American culture. His comedy is very political; he is left-leaning and extremely critical of government and organized religion (Cross is an atheist).

Quick David Cross Facts:

  • Cross hails from Atlanta, Georgia.
  • He first began performing stand-up comedy at age 17.
  • His first professional television job was as a writer on The Ben Stiller Show in 1993.
  • In 1995, he created Mr. Show with Bob and David with fellow comedian Bob Odenkirk. The HBO show lasted four seasons.
  • In 2003, Cross starred on the Emmy award-winning sitcome Arrested Development, which lasted for three seasons.
  • He has released two stand-up albums, one HBO special and a tour documentary.
  • In 2009, he published his first book, called I Drink for a Reason.
  • His third stand-up album, Bigger and Blackerer, was released in 2010.

Young David Cross:

Born in 1964 in Atlanta, Georgia, David Cross moved around a lot as a child before returning to Atlanta, where he remained for most of his formative years. After graduating from a performing arts high school in Atlanta in 1982, Cross immediately moved away to New York pursue a career in comedy. He began doing stand-up at age 17, spending most of the late '80s and early '90s performing around Boston (where he attended one semester of college at Emerson College) and New York.

Finding Sketch Comedy:

By 1990, Cross had become a regular at New York comedy club Catch a Rising Star. There, he and twelve other performers formed "Cross Comedy," a sketch group that put on weekly shows. Though he had previously been a member of another sketch group -- called This is Pathetic (where he met future Mr. Show cast member John Ennis) -- Cross Comedy laid the groundwork for the kind of comedy that Cross would eventually find success with at HBO.

Moving to L.A.:

In the early '90s, Cross relocated to Los Angeles. He became a regular at the city's Un-Cabaret nightclub, where -- thanks to comics like Cross, Patton Oswalt and Paul F. Tompkins -- the burgeoning "alternative" comedy scene was growing.

In 1992, Cross took his first professional television writing job with the staff of the short-lived FOX sketch comedy The Ben Stiller Show. The show was canceled after only 13 episodes, but it was there that Cross met another comedian and writer, one Bob Odenkirk. Together, the two would break new sketch comedy ground for the rest of the 1990s.

Mr. Show with Bob and David:

In 1995, HBO premiered Mr. Show with Bob and David, a sketch show conceived, written and performed primarily by Cross and Odenkirk (with help from other comics like Ennis and Tompkins). It was smart, satirical, edgy and absurd, but maintaining such high quality took its toll on Cross and Odenkirk. In its fourth season, HBO began moving its time slot around and ratings went down. It didn't come back for a fifth season.

Cross and Odenkirk did make a Mr. Show spin-off film, Run, Ronnie, Run. Post-production on the film was a mess, with Cross and Odenkirk locked out of the editing room. The film was buried and finally released directly to DVD in 2002. Cross has all but denounced the finished film.

Back to Stand-up

Following the end of Mr. Show, Cross turned his focus back to stand-up. His first full-length HBO special, The Pride is Back, debuted in 1999. In 2002, he released the double-length album Shut Up, You Fucking Baby!, which received a Grammy nomination for Best Comedy Album.

One year later, Cross put out a behind-the-scenes tour documentary, called Let America Laugh. His second album, It's Not Funny, was released in 2004.

I Recognize That Guy

In addition to stand-up, Cross became a ubiquitous character actor in the 2000s, appearing in films as widely varied as Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind to She's the Man to I'm Not There (playing beatnik author Allen Ginsberg) to Alvin and the Chipmunks. He also lent his voice talents to a number of video games, children's cartoons and edgier, "adult" animated shows like Aqua Teen Hunger Force and Tom Goes to the Mayor.

Cross's biggest role, though, was that of disgraced therapist Tobias Funke on the FOX sitcom Arrested Development. The show, which won the Emmy for Outstanding Comedy Series in 2004, lasted only three seasons but inspired a huge cult following.

In 2008, Cross reunited with Odenkirk for a new HBO pilot. The show, called David's Situation, is a sitcom based around the comedian and his roommates. Cross and Odenkirk opted not to go further with the pilot, and the show never went to series.

In 2010, Cross released Bigger and Blackerer, both a comedy album and stand-up comedy special on Sub Pop.

In August 2011, Cross announced he was engaged to his longtime girlfriend, actress Amber Tamblyn.

Additional David Cross Facts

  • Cross won an Emmy for his work as a writer on The Ben Stiller Show in 1993.
  • He was named number 85 on Comedy Central's list of the 100 Greatest Stand-ups of All Time.
  • He was voted "Most Humorous" by the North Side High School of the Performing Arts Class of '82.
  • In 2005, Cross got involved in a well-publicized feud with comedian Larry the Cable Guy. Both attacked each other's comedy and politics in print.
  • Cross is very active in the independent music community, appearing in and directing videos for bands including Superchunk, The Strokes, Tool and The Black Keys.
  • In 2009, Cross co-created and starred on the BBC series The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret. The series began airing in the US on IFC in the Fall of 2010.

If You Like David Cross, Check Out

Bob Odenkirk, George Carlin, Patton Oswalt, Richard Pryor

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