A fearlessly acerbic comedian whose humor frequently deals with social and political themes that engage some audiences and enrage others, David Cross' creative risk-taking helped to make him a noted comedian in the '90s and onward. Also known as an actor (most notably as Tobias Fünke on the sitcom Arrested Development) and a writer whose work includes television (The Ben Stiller Show, Mr. Show with Bob and David), movies (Run Ronnie Run, Hits) and essays (the book I Drink for a Reason), Cross's standup work presents his brand of comedy at its most unfiltered, and he won a Grammy nomination for his 2002 album Shut Up, You Fucking Baby!
Born April 4, 1964, in Atlanta, David Cross briefly attended Massachusetts' Emerson College before dropping out to launch his standup career. After relocating to Los Angeles he was tapped as a writer for the Fox network's fledgling sketch comedy series The Ben Stiller Show, making a handful of cameo appearances onscreen before the program was unceremoniously canceled in 1993. Cross and Ben Stiller Show co-star Bob Odenkirk resurfaced on HBO in 1995 with their own sketch series, the groundbreaking Mr. Show with Bob and David. The program later spawned a feature film, Run Ronnie Run, which New Line Cinema shelved for two-and-a-half years before a direct-to-DVD release, prompting writers/stars Cross and Odenkirk to disown the finished cut.
By this time, Cross was already a familiar presence onscreen, earning small roles in films (Men in Black, Waiting for Guffman, The Cable Guy) as well as guest appearances on television sitcoms like NewsRadio, The Drew Carey Show, and Just Shoot Me. He also maintained a thriving standup career, and in 1999 headlined his own HBO comedy special The Pride Is Back. In 2002, Cross released his first standup CD, Shut Up, You Fucking Baby!, on Sub Pop, earning a Grammy Award nomination for Best Comedy Album. A DVD, Let America Laugh, appeared a year later, documenting the tour that produced the album, where Cross primarily played rock clubs instead of traditional comedy venues. Also in 2003 he was cast as the "never nude" aspiring Blue Man Group member Tobias Fünke in the much-celebrated sitcom Arrested Development, which introduced him to a new and significantly larger audience. Cross' second album, the relatively subdued It's Not Funny, followed in 2004. In 2005, Cross made the first of several appearances on The Colbert Report in character as liberal radio host Russ Lieber, and 2006 saw the debut of Freak Show, a short-lived animated TV series co-created by Cross. Cross landed an unusually family-friendly role in 2007 as a sleazy music business figure in the hit reboot of Alvin and the Chipmunks (Cross would go on to appear in two sequels), and that same year he played the role of Allen Ginsberg in the Bob Dylan biopic I'm Not There. Cross was the writer, creator, and star of the situation comedy The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret, which debuted in 2009 and would run in the United States and England for three seasons. 2009 also saw Cross hit the road for a comedy tour, and two dates in Boston were recorded for the 2010 Sub Pop release Bigger and Blackerer, the package including one show on CD and the other on DVD.
In 2010, Cross became a published author with the release of I Drink for a Reason, a collection of typically pointed essays. Television and film projects kept him busy for the next several years, including recurring roles on Modern Family and The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, a four-episode sketch comedy show, W/ Bob and David, that reunited Cross with Bob Odenkirk and most of the Mr. Show cast, and his first feature film as a writer and director, Hits. A 2016 comedy tour that dealt with the rise of Donald Trump as a presidential candidate, among other things, was filmed for a Netflix special, Making America Great Again, and a revised audio edition of the show was released under the title … america … great. Another standup tour in 2018 spawned a special that was released in May 2019 by Comedy Dynamics as Oh Come On. ~ Jason Ankeny & Mark Deming