"It's a foolish endeavour to try and make a bit out of something [Trump] said or did because there's no permanence to it. That outrageous thing is replaced within the hour by something more outrageous and egregious. 'Outrageous' almost seems like a tame word to use. Some of these things are horrific. My perspective is he never fooled me. He might have, obviously, fooled a bunch of people. I mean, he's a con man. He's not very bright. He's got blatant issues."
– David Cross
Guy MacPherson: Hello, David.
David Cross: Yes.
GM: How are you?
GM: Where are you, can I ask that first?
DC: Yes. I'm in Brooklyn, New York, America.
GM: I've heard of it.
DC: I'm waiting for the taxi that I just watched drive straight past me on Atlantic, which is not an easy place to turn around. I don't know where this guy is. I'm now going to be late. Such is life. Oh, there he is.
GM: Do you want me to wait a sec?
DC: Is this him?... No, it's not. Where the fuck is this–...? Hang on. (to a driver) No, sorry, I'm waiting for the curb guy. I thought you were the curb guy. You're not Omar. (honk) Yeah, there he is over there. Got him. Alright, sorry.
GM: You want me to call you back?
DC: No, no, no, no. I'm literally going to get in the cab. He knows where I'm going. It's fine. I just have to wait for him to drive over here. I can't cross four lanes of traffic here. Anyway, yes, sorry, go ahead, I apologize.
GM: You're crossing four lanes of traffic or he is?
DC: Well, I would be in order to get in the cab. Oh, here we go. (to cabbie) Alright, thank you. Gotta make up for a little time now. (back to me) So go ahead, sorry. I'm one-hundred percent devoted to you and you only.
GM: Oh, sweet. Okay, I know you have spent some time in Vancouver many years ago. What was that for?
DC: I've shot a couple things there. At last three things I think I've shot up there.
GM: I remember seeing you at a Nashville Pussy concert and that was ages ago.
DC: Hang on. I'm sorry. (to cabbie) If you get me to the corner, we'll be fine. (to me) Yes, sir. Go ahead. Yes, Nashville Pussy show.
GM: Yeah, I can't even remember what year that was but it was early on. Were you here for an extended time filming something? Do you remember?
DC: I don't remember but I've definitely been there at least one, two, three... I've definitely shot at least three things there, probably more. And, you know, I've done standup and stuff.
GM: Do you have any crazy memories of your time here?
DC: I think this would fall under crazy memory, I suppose: I remember biking in the, oh gosh, what's it called? It's where the university is.
GM: The endowment lands?
DC: Yes, yes, yes. A bunch of us were biking and I wiped out and I went flying off the bike and then I broke my finger – my hand, really – and I didn't know that I broke my hand; I thought I just jammed my finger. I eventually had to get a cast for it and I didn't take care of it right because it was one of the first films I was cast in and I didn't want to fuck anything up so I had the doctor saw the cast in half so I could take it out for shooting. It's still fucked up. My finger and my hand is still fucked up because of it. But shortly after that, me and another guy in the cast and one of the crew took acid and we had a great day. And then Ween was playing and we ended up going to see Ween. It was all kind of spur of the moment; it wasn't really planned. It was one of those things where it was Friday and, 'Hey, tomorrow Ween's playing. You want to drop acid and go?' Like, sure! Nothing insane happened but that was a fun time that I remember.
GM: You remember it; that's good. But those acid days are long behind you now.
DC: They are, yeah.
GM: You're a father. You're an older father, as I was. You must have had expectations or opinions on people with kids and now all of a sudden, we have kids. What has surprised you about yourself or the experience?
DC: I probably beat myself up a little more than I should about I feel guilty about not spending every waking second with her but there hasn't been any real surprises. I have always feared, in the back of my head I've had this fear that what if I turn out to have some sort of genetic makeup like my dad, who was a shitty dad. But that doesn't seem to be manifesting itself. But that's always been a latent fear: What if I have a kid and then I don't care? You know. Or I don't know what love is? No, it's all good. I'm conscious of not boring people with my dumb anecdotal shit about something my kid did.
GM: Thank you. And that probably comes from years of being bored by people talking about their kids.
DC: Yes! Very much. Very much so.
GM: And you had that great joke about – I'm paraphrasing – 'You think parenthood is hard; try convincing your girlfriend to have her third abortion.'
DC: Yeah. Great joke.
GM: You are coming to Vancouver on July 4th. I don't know if that date rings a bell in your mind. But it's very gutsy of you to come to your country's sworn enemy on your national holiday.
DC: (laughs) Yes. Who knew? When I booked the show, we were still friends. But then of course I later learned that you burned down the White House, so I'm going to get my revenge.
GM: Your country might take it out on you.
DC: No, I think your country will get its revenge on me.
GM: Is this tour 43 dates or are you adding more?
DC: It's still a little bit in flux so I don't know what it'll end up being at the end of everything but the idea is that this is the first leg, then I go to Europe, and then I come back – it'll mostly be the States, I imagine – and hit the places I didn't [play] because there are places on this first leg that I'm not getting to that I definitely want to get to.
GM: A couple years ago, your tour had over 60 dates, right?
DC: It was 111.
GM: Oh, was it? Geez, that is nuts. How do you prepare for just going out there that long? Will you get home a bit in between?
DC: Yeah. I'm not doing as brutal a tour schedule as last time. I don't think I'll ever do that again. My wife and my daughter will be with me for most of that first leg there. So that makes a difference. She's got a book coming out next week. We did this last time. She had a book coming out last time. So she'll do a bookstore appearance in the day and I'll do the show at night, and then we'll take off. So that makes a big difference having the family with me. But I made it so I definitely have more time off. I'm doing stretches of 16 shows in a row, with like four days off. I'm doing ten, eleven, twelve tops and then I'm home for five, six, seven days.
GM: What year did you start doing standup?
DC: Well, the very first open mic show I did was a week before my 18th birthday. So that's when it started. But it takes a little while. And I was in Atlanta, which only had two clubs. It literally had The Punchline and The Comedy Spot and that was it, for open mic nights, at least. And then I moved to Boston when I was 19 and then I really started developing my voice and building up more and having a set of peers that were very influential. So yeah, it's been a while.
GM: Once you started touring with your standup, how has that changed over the years, or your reaction to it?
DC: Oh, it's completely different. When I first toured, the first couple of tours I did, it was me and a band would open up. A band would do, like, 45 minutes or an hour, and then I would do two hours of standup. And it was all music clubs. It was never theatres. It was very kind of old-school. We would get in a van and we'd crash at friends' houses and just party all night and then get on the road and go to the next place. It was very much like that. It was very kinda old school rock 'n roll.
GM: It was a lot more fun, is what you're saying.
DC: It was a lot more fun, but it's a young man's game, for sure. I couldn't do that again. I'm not Robert Pollard; I don't have that resiliency. Now I'm in a bus and I'm playing theatres mostly. It's just a different thing. And I don't do two-hour shows anymore. I try to keep it to 75 minutes, which is I think the sweet spot. I tend to go over a bit, because I'm a little self-indulgent, but yeah, it's much, much different. And I don't drink as much. It's just different.
GM: Do you bring an opener?
DC: I have an opener for the first week, which starts on Saturday, for New England and the mid-Atlantic. I booked her. She's awesome, she's great. Her name's Janelle James and she's really, really, really funny. I booked her when I was getting the tour together, going, 'I don't know if I'm going to have enough material.' And of course, five minutes after I booked her, after I'd done three or four more shows, I'm like, 'No, I've got too much material. Shit.' So I don't have anybody after that first week, but that's only because I selfishly want as much time on stage as possible.
GM: You talk about your peers that influenced you in Boston and early on. Going back to Atlanta, do you remember who the first live comic you saw was?
DC: Oh, yeah. I saw Steve Martin. I was 15 years old and my friends and I were living in Roswell and we went down to see Steve Martin at the Fox Theatre. He was on his King Tut tour. I was 15 or 16, I'm not sure; I'd have to look that up. But we bought the little arrow thing that goes through the head and it was incredible. And then I went and saw when I was maybe 16 Franklyn Ajaye at Georgia State University literally in a room, like a classroom. I was clearly the youngest kid there. Again, I took a bus in from Roswell and went and saw him and then took the bus home. And then I went to probably four or five different open mic shows before I got the guts up to sign up and try to do standup. I met people there and we were all kinda young and we hung out and formed like a little clique. That was my earliest introduction to seeing live standup.
GM: That's pretty great. I saw Franklyn Ajaye around 1981 or '82.
DC: That could have been the same tour, maybe. Not that he was touring. But '81 sounds about right.
GM: I was in the audience at The Tonight Show and he was a guest on it.
DC: It was right around there. That would have made me 16, 17. So maybe it was 1980 or something. Yeah, I saw him at Georgia State University.
GM: I first saw you at Bumbershoot. I think Patton Oswalt was on that show.
DC: Was it a long, long, long time ago?
GM: Yeah, yeah. Early Bumbershoot. Maybe Margaret Cho was headlining.
DC: Sure, yeah. Yeah, it was fun.
GM: On your last tour, you made America great again. And now Trump has taken over and America's thriving. Do you dedicate much of the show to talking about him?
DC: No more than usual. I have a little recipe for how I like to design the show. I try to keep it to roughly a third being silly, stupid jokes that anybody can like, and roughly a third are anecdotal experience type things, and then another third is topical, political, cultural, religious type stuff like that. So I definitely talk about it. It would be odd not to, I think. But it's not like the bulk of the show is talking about Trump.
GM: What's the best way to combat him comedically? Some people say you can't because he's just so ridiculous himself. How do you tackle it?
DC: You don't concentrate on him so much as just what brought us here, what brought us to this point. As has been pointed out, and I say it on stage as well, it's a foolish endeavour to try and make a bit out of something he said or did because there's no permanence to it. That outrageous thing is replaced within the hour by something more outrageous and egregious. 'Outrageous' almost seems like a tame word to use. Some of these things are horrific. My perspective is he never fooled me. He might have, obviously, fooled a bunch of people. I mean, he's a con man. He's not very bright. He's got blatant issues. It's really less about him and more about his fans.
GM: Your wife was one of the prime movers in #metoo.
DC: Not #metoo but #timesup. She's a founder of #timesup.
GM: You've worked with some people who've gotten in trouble, like Jeffrey Tambor and Louis C.K. Obviously you're in a tight-knit show business community and people get exposed, no pun intended. I like what you said, you don't just drop your friends if they've done something wrong. It's sort of a nuanced position. It's not just black or white.
DC: Absolutely. That's how I approach everything. This is very complex and complicated. I can not condone somebody's behaviour but it doesn't mean I'm never going to talk to that person again. That's silly.
GM: Do you talk about it on stage at all?
DC: Not really. I have one very tiny throw-away joke. There's a thing I do about that I'm kinda starting to drop it because I've just got too much material and it sounds similar to some other stuff. My sets are always evolving so sometimes I just start throwing bits away because I think of other stuff that's more interesting to me or a more interesting way to approach the same subject matter. But I do one little throw-away reference but it's not like a whole bit that really picks apart that [inaudible].
GM: Some people say Louis C.K. will come back, some people say how can he come back?
DC: I think one of the other angles that nobody seems to be aware of is does he want to come back? I don't know if he wants to.
GM: Have you talked to him?
DC: Yeah, and I don't speak for him and that's not anything he's ever said to me. But who knows where people will be and where individuals and culture will be two, five, ten years from now. But that's something that nobody ever seems to think about.
GM: I guess we just assume that it was such a big part of his life and he loved creating and being on stage that you assume that he would want to.
DC: Yeah, and it's a fair assumption to make. It's absolutely a fair assumption to make. But it's hard to fathom what kind of sea change this would be for a person.
GM: Totally. Is he doing okay? And you can also have that same concern for anybody that he harmed. You can have concern for both sets of people.
DC: Yeah, of course!
GM: So I hope he's doing okay. Do you know that he is?
DC: I mean, that's relative, isn't it?
GM: Yeah, it is. It is. Okay, last question. You've said you'll always get your share of walkouts, because people know you from different parts of your career, and you said they don't bother you; you accept it. I know comics can be on stage delivering their material while having a different conversation going on in their head. What's your internal monologue when you notice walkouts?
DC: It really totally depends on the situation, the context of it, and how people are walking out. I shouldn't say I'll always have walkouts, meaning every show there'll be a walkout; it means in my professional career I imagine at some point down the line there'll be somebody that walks out at some point. But I don't mean to imply that every single show someone walks out. That's never been the case and I don't imagine it'll ever be the case. But when you consider my material and the topics it covers and people both on the left and the right, extreme left and extreme right, can be very sensitive, people leave. And sometimes they leave quietly and sometimes they don't. It depends on where in the show they leave or what they're saying. It's fine. To quote Benjamin Franklyn, 'It is what it is.'
GM: But in the moment, can you get a little rattled by it?
DC: Not anymore. Not really. Hopefully it doesn't step on a punchline or on an important thing that I've been building up to where I have to go back and try to repeat it. But you just note it and go okay. But it's not upsetting. Again, it is what it is. And usually nobody's first in line to get primo fucking best tickets so I'm not really seeing them leave from the front orchestra section, you know what I mean? It's usually somebody in the back.
GM: Those are your fans in the front. But they can interrupt in other ways; they just get too exuberant and they'll step on a line.
DC: Yeah, sometimes that happens, too. But at least if they're well-meaning you have to treat them differently. You're aggravated and frustrated but you're not angry. Unless it goes on and on and on, then you're like, 'Get the fuck out of here, what are you doing?'
GM: Okay, man. Thanks for taking the call. And when you come here, stay off bicycles.
DC: Now I wear a helmet now that I have a kid, so I should be all right.
GM: But it's your hands, really.
DC: I wear helmets on my hands. I have two hand helmets I designed. Yeah, you'll see me on Shark Tank pitching it.