“Speaking of taking a rape shower, I’m starting to regret my vote for Donald Trump.”
That segue nicely captures the acerbic tone of David Cross’ impressive new stand-up special, Oh, Come On, which premieres on May 10.
Produced by Comedy Dynamics, Oh, Come On will be available on multiple platforms including iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, and most major telco and satellite providers. It’s a brilliant hour-long set where Cross deftly balances hard-hitting political satire with jokes about becoming a father, raising a family, and getting his first colonic irrigation treatment. Never has a sitting president been so skillfully skewered in between a series of poop jokes.
Best known for his role on Arrested Development as everyone’s favorite never-nude analrapist, Dr. Tobias Funke, Cross’ hefty IMDB page also includes big-budget Hollywood blockbusters like Men in Black, critical favorites like Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret, family-friendly fare like Alvin and The Chipmunks, and – of course – his sketch comedy show Mr. Show with Bob and David (with Bob Odenkirk). He has one of those faces and voices you remember, even if you can’t immediately place.
Cross’ thoughts on political, religion, and American culture are the backbone of his stand-up act. He admits that audiences who know him only as “the guy from Arrested Development” might be a little shell-shocked once he gets on a rant. “At this point, I’d say about 80 percent of the audience knows who I am and are well-versed in my stand-up,” Cross said in an interview with The Interrobang. “The other 20 percent know me as the guy from Arrested Development or whatever. They maybe didn’t know I did stand-up, but saw that the guy from TV was coming to town and decided to get a sitter and come out. Some of those people do get offended. And I don’t give a shit. I don’t care if you’re offended by my material. That’s on you. You do your homework before you come out to a show.
“At the same time, I’m not going out there like ‘I can’t wait to drop some truth-bombs on these motherfuckers! I hope they’re all offended. Oh, goodie! This is going to offend so many people.’ That’s never my intention, either. I’m just going out and telling jokes.”
Cross developed the set for Oh, Come On over the course of several months in 2018. He and his wife, Amber Tamblyn, welcomed their first child in 2017, and becoming a father had an inevitable effect on his material. He sought to find a good balance between being the new gushing dad telling adorable baby stories and delivering the kind of biting, caustic wit that has become his trademark. He turned to his audience for advice.
“I was working out this set for a few months in three different clubs in Brooklyn and after every set, I’d ask the audience to stick around a little bit and give some feedback,” he said. “It was like, ‘Be honest. Too much dad stuff?’ ‘Yes!’ OK, well there goes some of that. They didn’t pull any punches. They were great and it was a big help. What you see in the special is basically the scientific results of that crowd-based research.”
Cross said he tends to follow a basic “recipe, as it were” when he puts together a stand-up set. “The set always evolves but I tend to approach it by dividing the set into thirds,” Cross said. “The first one-third of the set is without any politics or bias at all, just joke-jokes. One-third is anecdotal. And then politics and religion is the last third. That’s usually how it shakes out, at least for the last few specials.
“The sequencing is vitally important. I usually open with something innocuous or mundane. I don’t want to come out of the gate with all of the heavy stuff. I think that’s way better than hitting ‘em with the hard stuff and then spending 30 minutes talking about having a kid. It feels right. It works for me.”
Starting in January 2018, Cross said he walked or rode his bike to a few local comedy clubs and went on stage with “a tape recorder and a bunch of notes.” He would change up the set based on the response and the impromptu Q&A sessions, then fine-tune it doing festivals in spring 2018, until it was ready for a one-hour special. The result is a special that Cross said felt concise and more fully-formed than some of his previous specials. “I could feel it when I was doing it. This felt tighter and more fully realized as a whole,” he said. “There’s a little more of a wholeness to it, not just the sum of its parts, I think.”
A major part – if the not the backbone of the special – is a detailed takedown of Donald Trump, including a segment where he brings out a sheet of notes and lists dozens and dozens of wrongdoings Trump has committed since becoming president. Strung together and well-researched, it is an outstanding critique of Trump that still manages to be hysterically funny. At the end of the diatribe, Cross quips that he has to update that list after every couple of shows because Trump always manages to add another atrocity to his resume on a regular basis.
“I’m always aware of the potential ‘datedness’ of that material, especially because you have to tape a comedy special so far out, and the things I’m talking about could easily be yesterday’s news compared to whatever other outrageous shit he has done since,” he said. “I generally talk less about Trump and more about his fans, his base. Leave the stuff about what Trump did today or what he does tomorrow to the late-night talk show hosts. But when I go over everything the way I do in the special, I think it reminds you of the scope of everything in a way that the nightly talk shows can’t. It has more import to it. “You can forget about some of the stuff as new stuff happens. At the time, it seemed awful and horrific, but now, what used to be awful and horrific seems like nothing.”
Even Cross’ takes on parenthood have a distinctive edge, such as him joking that he keeps his infant daughter in line by reminding her of what happened to the “other ones” who came before her, or doing an about-face and insisting that he was only joking about having a kid all along. In a sweet little bit, handheld footage of his daughter plays under the closing credits.
Cross said he chose to release Oh, Come On via a simultaneous multi-platform system rather than through a single provider like Netflix or Hulu because he did what he encourages his audience to do – he did his homework.
“(Comedy Dynamics) really wanted it,” he said. “They made it clear that they were excited to work with me and, you know, that means a lot. Nothing against Netflix, who I have worked with, but I don’t want to be at the mercy of somebody’s algorithm. People watch TV lazily. If it’s not right up there in front of you, you have to search for my stuff on Netflix. With this format, there’s not that same issue. I’m always excited to evolve to the next thing and I’m excited about this.”