INTERVIEW: Don’t cross David Cross

David Cross GigCity EdmontonIf you’ve come to the point where you trust comedians more than you trust journalists to deliver the truth, you’re not alone.

David Cross feels the same way – and he’s in the thick of it.

“It’s kind of a symbiotic relationship,” the 52-year-old comedian observes. “I look to Wolf Blitzer as a source of humour. It’s OK to look to comics for the true news, because we are looking to the journalists for humour, so it’s an interesting cyclical relationship.”

Please do let us know if any fresh information gets into this loop.

Performing in Edmonton on Saturday, July 23 at the Myer Horowitz Theatre (and in Calgary’s MacEwan Hall July 22) on his “Making America Great Again!” tour, Cross admits that Donald Trump is one great comedian. Trump is so good that all you have to do is quote him verbatim and you’ll get a laugh. “We’re going to owe him,” Cross says. Seriously, though, he’s scared.

“I was like most people: this guy’s a clown, there’s no way, but I’ve always been a little nervous, because he couldn’t have asked for a better opponent than Hillary, who is so divisive, and people for good reason don’t trust her, and find her disingenuous. She represents the establishment, which is what Trump doesn’t represent. He’s got so many supporters because he’s not part of the establishment. That’s one mitigating factor. And we just saw what happened in the UK. That was a stunner. I was there. The first day afterwards was like The Walking Dead. People couldn’t believe it. Now it’s sinking in.”

He says there are numerous examples of people voting against their best interests because of “emotional wedge issues.” With Brexit, “it was immigration,” Cross says. “That’s what it was. They can dress it up in any way they want, but it’s really about immigration. It’s about xenophobia – and that’s where a lot of Trump’s support comes from, and that’s really scary. It’s scary that he could be elected, but a lot of people didn’t think it would happen in England.”

The trick for the comedian is to spin this sort of grim source material into laughter, and Cross has had a lot of practice. From roots in stand-up, he’s done a wide variety of projects from very silly to very serious – from sketch comedy with Bob Odenkirk in Mr. Show to writing and starring in his own UK-produced television series called The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret. He cuts deep through the bullshit with his monologues, his books. He draws from personal experience, leaving out no gory detail. He picks his targets carefully and then eviscerates them. He gets mad. After the epic takedown of Jim Belushi, B-list movie stars should maybe be careful not to act like a dick around this guy.

The truth-telling comedian walks a fine line. Bill Maher’s show Politically Incorrect got canceled by ABC after he made pointed 9/11 observation. Gilbert Gottfried cracked an inappropriate joke about the Japanese tsunami and lost his job as the voice of the duck on the Aflac insurance commercial. They got another guy to do the duck. Cross dealt with large corporations and small animals as the star of the three Alvin and the Chipmunks movies. He said nasty things about his experience and says he personally lost about $150,000 just by opening his mouth.

He’s not worried.

“I know for a fact I’ve burned some bridges,” Cross says. “And sometimes I feel bad, but more often than not I don’t feel that bad. It doesn’t bother me that much.”

Besides, “I’ll always be able to do stand up.”