David Cross has a new TV show on. No, not Running Wilde where he plays the environmentalist fiancé of Keri Russell. No, the real David Cross show is
David Cross: If you don’t mind, can I start off? I’ll just jump in. I don’t mean to interrupt myself, but just to preface everything, I have no idea if there’s going to be a movie, but definitely everyone is up for it. We’re all up for it. I can tell you I’ve talked to every single person except for two, but everyone’s into it and we’re just sort of waiting on a script and hoping it happens. We all want it to happen.
CraveOnline: Is it funnier if nobody ever points out that Todd’s last name is Margaret?
David Cross: Let’s find out. We had that in every episode there was a person who said, “Margaret? That’s a girls’ name.” Blake’s character says it when I first meet him and then the guy at the pub, but as we were editing it, it seemed like the wrong kind of joke for the show. It seemed a little self-aware and cute. So we just took them out and I believe we still have somebody saying it but just being constant in every show it wasn’t the right kind of tone comically.
CraveOnline: What are some poor decisions you have made?
David Cross: Well, I’m making really great decisions right now by choosing my answer. Gosh, I sh*t myself one time. I mean, it wasn’t a decision but I just thought it was going to be a fart. So it turned out to be a bad decision and that is the truth. It was last summer. I was wearing shorts, I was walking my dog. What’s another poor decision? Oh, telling that. Telling the thing about sh*tting myself. Stupid, why would I do that? IT was unnecessary. Let’s see. Oh, voting for Bush twice. When I got a call late at night, 2003 in March, “Should I invade Iraq?” “Yeah, do it.” That was silly. Advising the Pope on what would get him off properly. That was probably not the best decision. I sent him over a whole ton of kids.
Q: Did you originally plan this as a London project?
David Cross: No, it was somebody else’s idea. I was in London at the time doing standup and after a show one night these two women, one very posh, came up to me and introduced themselves and they presented this idea to me, “Would you be interested in perhaps a show where we combine American talent with U.K. talent, producers and writers, to do a show for the U.K. that could potentially be shown in the States?” And that’s where this idea came from. So it’s the first time that I’ve ever creatively [came up with an] idea to fit certain parameters. Usually I just have the idea and I pitch it and we try to make it, but this was specifically about a show that combined American and U.K. talent to be shot in London.
Q: What are the advantages of doing a show in England?
David Cross: Well, fort of all, there is the insane amount of talent there, Sharon [Horgan] and Blake [Harrison] being two perfect examples. Really funny smart comedy, one is a woman, the other is on his ay. Getting there, come on. But the talent there is great. I know that it’s very trite to say and I would not say it if it wasn’t the truth, but the crew there was absolutely the best crew I’ve ever worked with. Nobody complained, top notch professionals, we were working long days, long hours, six day weeks and the crew was great. Catering, top notch. I learned what a toad in a hole was. It’s great as a writer to write within the parameters of a different culture and not just make it simply fish out of water, but create the story and have real people within Todd’s world who are British. That in itself, plus the combination of
Q: How did you get Johnny Marr to do the music?
David Cross: I met Johnny a couple years ago. He was working with Modest Mouse, who I know some of those guys. Do you guys remember the very brief YouTube sensation, the guy from Bank of America who sang U2’s One but put his own lyrics about how great the Bank of America/Capital One merger was? It became a very popular thing and there was a bit of tragedy to it. So I learned the song and Johnny played guitar and I opened a Modest Mouse show in New York by coming out and singing that song and Johnny played guitar. So I met him there and then we hung out afterwards for drinks an he’s like, “Oh, my son is a huge Mr. Show fan” and he loved Arrested Development. We just hung out. He’s a super sweet down to earth great guy. Then when it came time to figure out who was going to do the music, we decided we definitely wanted it to be someone who was British. There was a small list of people and I was like, “Oh wait, I know Johnny Marr. It’s worth a shot.” So we got in touch with him and first of all, his turnover rate is astounding. I will basically e-mail or call up and go, “Hey, what about something that sounds sort of like…” and before I’m finished, he’s already sent the file to me. I mean, literally 24 hours, 48 hours later he turns around. He did score the whole thing, did the theme song. It’s great. I’m very excited.
Q: What are the differences in comic sensibilities between the U.K. and the U.S.?
David Cross: I think you have to answer that question in two different ways. One is the general sense, which I think takes into account the kind of stereotypes and generalities, the idea that class is a big issue and fodder for comedy in the U.K. whereas it really isn’t here. Here, race is a big issue but it’s minimal in the U.K. Those are two differences. It’s perhaps a bit drier sometimes in the U.K. and certainly in the last 20 years the hardcore comedy enthusiasts, whether in the U.K. or whether in America all like the same shows. There’s a vast amount of overlap. Arrested Development is huge in the U.K. in the comedy community. The British version of The Office was huge in America for comedy fans. There’s quite a bit of overlap. For comedy fans, people who actively seek it out, I don’t think there is much of a difference at all. One of the things that was attractive to me about the show, and probably the biggest most blatant difference about this show as opposed to a lot of other comedy shows, is it’s telling a story. It has a beginning, middle and an end. I know what the end is and every episode takes place the next day. So over the life of the series, should it go on, two, three, four, five series, it will all tell a story of this journey of this guy and the people around him. Britain doesn’t have a lot of those open ended [shows] like The [American] Office where you’re just, “Let’s check in on the gang today.” Or Friends or Everybody Loves Raymond where there’s no kind of cause and effect and consequences. This does and that’s very British, I suppose.
Q: Are you an Anglophile?
David Cross: I have not gotten the tests back. I am an Anglophile. First of all, I should also say that like my character, well the character is lying, but my dad really is from Leeds. I’m first generation American Cross and their whole family came on the boat. Well, not “the” boat, “a” boat. There’s not just one going back and forth. “All right, who’s next?”
Q: What influences pop up in the show?
David Cross: I grew up deeply influenced by Monty Python, huge influence. If you’ve seen Mr. Show you can see it there. Then just through the years of Python turned into any of the Steve Coogan and Chris Morris stuff, Armando Iannucci stuff. Big fans. People in the comedy community gravitate and nerd out about that stuff. As far as what influences you might see, I don’t know. It does have a very good marriage of the co-writer, Shaun Pye. Some of the hardest laughs and the funniest lines are Shaun’s, and the dirtiest. He’s British. He’s the guy I guess. My focus was also more the story and what was happening so I think there’s a good marriage. As far as what’s on now, I was a huge fan of Pulling which is Sharon’s show. I didn’t know about Sharon until she was recommended for casting and I had never heard of her before. They gave me Pulling and it’s a great, brilliant show. Just recently, it’s now in its seventh season there, but while I was in London I just got turned on to Shameless which is a great, brilliant show and those are my two current favorites.