David Cross returns to hometown for Atlanta Symphony Hall date August 11
LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 17: David Cross attends the premiere of Netflix's 'Arrested Development' Season 5 at Netflix FYSee Theater on May 17, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Rich Fury/Getty Images)
David Cross has deep ties to his hometown Atlanta, with a soft heart for its more bohemian parts like Little Five Points and East Atlanta.
The "Arrested Development" actor grew up in Roswell, loving the Atlanta Braves. In his younger adult years, he spent many a night drinking at the Star Bar. He visits his family in the area multiple times a year and has biked the Beltline and played putt-putt at Ponce City Market. Last year, he canvassed for Democrat Jon Ossoff, who ultimately lost the Sixth District House seat to Karen Handel.
But he isn't readily identified as a hometown comic like residents Jeff Foxworthy and Chris Tucker.
The reason is simple: Cross left Atlanta after high school in 1982 and moved to New York. He has embraced that more urbane world ever since.
He has only done a handful of stand-up shows in Atlanta over the past decade, most recently in 2016. So he expressed disappointment to me in an interview last week that sales for his current show at Atlanta Symphony Hall August 11 have been slower than expected.
Cross said he's been selling out in the Northeast and Canada, where he presumes his type of comedy resonates better. But he'd like the hall to be fuller so Cross fans in Georgia: he's coming! (Buy tickets here.)
“I’m very happy with this set,” Cross said. “I really enjoy it. It’s been a good, fun show.”
It doesn't help, he noted semi-seriously, that Jon Stewart and Dave Chappelle decided to have a show down the street at the Tabernacle the same night.
Cross said there is a misconception that he's a political comic because he is an outspoken liberal. Besides helping out Ossoff last year, he said he's given Stacey Abrams his maximum contribution in hopes she becomes governor in November.
But his set, he said, is one third silly observations and jokes, one third anecdotes and one third cultural, religious and political commentary. (If you watch his 2016 Netflix special, that is about the typical mix.)
"I try to not to spend too much time on one subject or tone," he said. "I jump around. I'm not Bill Maher or Lewis Black. Doing that for an hour is boring for me."
He prides himself on being fearless. When he was starting out, he knew the headliner would be awful if they told him how ballsy he was as he was getting off the stage.
“I’m only ballsy compared to other people,” Cross said. “I don’t have that thing that some people are born with. I don’t care if I might upset people.”
His acting resume is an eclectic blend of mainstream (”Alvin and the Chipmunks,” “Pitch Perfect 2”) and quirky (”Arrested Development,” “The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret”).
Cross said he knew the writer/director Boots Riley for years and around 2010, Riley sent Cross a script for what would become the film for his opinion. "I was a little apprehensive because what if it sucked?" he said. "It was surprisingly awesome. One of the best laugh-out-loud scripts. So inventive and imaginative. Years later, he contacted me and asked me to do the white voice. I couldn't say no!"
He said it took no effort for him to create that chipper “white” voice. “I’m just calling upon my reference of my childhood,” he said. “I grew up in Roswell, about the whitest, most Southern Baptist community you can imagine. I take away the Southern accent and pitch it up. It becomes kind of sparkly, with a little golly gee!”
He will tape his next Netflix special in Asheville, N.C. on August 8. Three days later, he comes to Atlanta.
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 16: Actors Amber Tamblyn (L) and David Cross attend Urban Arts Partnership at the 15th annual The 24 Hour Plays On Broadway after party at BB King on November 16, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Nicholas Hunt/Getty Images for Urban Arts Partnership)
Credit: Nicholas Hunt
Credit: Nicholas Hunt
They are also bringing along their daughter Marlow, who is 18 months. He said being a dad to a young child has changed the equation in terms of his schedule. "You can't be as whimsical," he said. "Whereas before I could just say, I'll go to Australia for three days. Now I have other things to factor in."
After his show on Saturday, he and his family will be going to Lake Lanier for a few days to just chill, he said.
Despite the kid, his sister Wendy Cross said as long as their mom Susi can watch Marlow, he could still go out and hit a restaurant late. Last time he was here, Wendy said, they hung out at Golden Eagle in Reynoldstown.
And Cross is not as peeved about the Braves’ move to Cobb County as he was a couple years ago. The team’s success this year has softened the blow: “It was such an awful s****y thing. It soured me. But I’ve been reluctantly following the team this year because they are kind of exciting.”
Rodney Ho writes about entertainment for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution including TV, radio, film, comedy and all things in between. A native New Yorker, he has covered education at The Virginian-Pilot, small business for The Wall Street Journal and a host of beats at the AJC over 20-plus years. He loves tennis, pop culture & seeing live events.