Comedian David Cross on growing up in Atlanta and his new stand-up special

david cross
David Cross's comedy special "I'm From the Future" is out now. (Courtesy of David Cross)

If you are familiar with David Cross, it may be from multiple examples of his vast array of work as an actor, a writer and a stand-up comedian. Always candid, he’s described his comedy as “slightly confrontational, a little snotty, a little condescending.” He’s just released a new stand-up special, “I’m From the Future,” streaming on his official website. David Cross joined “City Lights” host Lois Reitzes via Zoom to chat about Atlanta, becoming a father and several past, current and future works in his prolific career. 

Interview highlights:

How so many formative years in Atlanta influenced Cross’s comedy:

 “It’s all over my earlier work. I was born in Atlanta, and when I was one, I moved to Florida, and then when I was about five, I moved up to the Northeast, and then when I was nine, moved back to Georgia, to Roswell,” Cross said. “It was really a massive culture shock for me that never went away … I mean, I had great, fantastic memories over the years of being there, made some very good, close friends that I’m still close with today, and was lucky enough to be there coming of age when the music scene was really burgeoning there, between Athens and Atlanta. And I had a fake ID, which was very easy to get back then.”

He continued, “But … I [returned] from a liberal, progressive area where being Jewish wasn’t alien, and then I went to this place where I was made to feel very othered and weird and freakish, and not just the Jewish thing. That was one tiny little part of it. And I have tons and tons of jokes that, some are anecdotal, some are just observational, but about being who I was in Roswell, Georgia, in the ’70s and early ’80s.”

A bit of inside baseball for fans of “Arrested Development”:

“Initially, they didn’t contact me about playing Tobias. They initially wanted me to look at Gob,” recalled Cross. “I had just moved to New York at the time, after nine very long years in Los Angeles, and I’ve been looking to get out of L.A. for half the time I was there and had just managed to do so. So I wasn’t interested in going back, but a number of people were like, ‘This script is great. Mitch [Hurwitz, the creator] is great. You got to check it out,’” said Cross. “I got the script, and it’s just, from the very first word to the last word, it’s just brilliant … I had no handle on Gob. I couldn’t picture it, I didn’t know who he was, and the fact that they so perfectly cast Will Arnett tells you that’s who Gob is and who Gob should be.”

He continued, “I immediately gravitated towards Tobias, who was written as just a recurring guy. It was only going to be there, you know, six episodes or so, and I immediately had a handle on him and not only knew how I wanted to play it but really had a strong desire to do it. Against all the other feelings about not going back to L.A. … it was just too good.” 

On David Cross and Bob Odenkirk’s upcoming new show “Guru Nation”:

“It’s going to be a limited series, as it was intended to be. And Bob, you know, we talked about this format that we haven’t really done before, which is telling a story, beginning, middle and end. It ends; that’s it. We’re not going to try to extend it for numerous series; it’s a story,” Cross said. “It’s really basically about the cult leaders and gurus and cultural personality type of folks, some a little bit more evil and duplicitous than others, some not.”

“It’s told through the two kind of straight characters, these ingenues, as it were … They’re in their 20s,”  Cross explained. “[They] ping-pong through these various cults and these leaders, and focusing on two of them, one played by Bob, one played by myself, although we will also do multiple characters in the story. But it will be more grounded than a typical sketch. We’re working on making it feel real and also not being overtly judgmental. The question we want to acknowledge is … It doesn’t matter what language you speak, what era you were born in culturally, what gender you are; it doesn’t matter. You can get taken by a con man, whether it’s religious-based or science-based or self-help based, or whatever it is, or some amalgamation of all of them.”

David Cross’s new stand-up comedy special, “I’m From the Future,” is available to stream on his website, officialdavidcross.com