David Cross Sounds Off on Trump and Slams Netflix for Pulling Blackface Episode
The comedian and “Arrested Development” star joins The Last Laugh podcast to talk about post-Trump politics, his stand-up process, controversial sketch comedy and a lot more.
“Will he be arrested and sent to federal prison for treason?” he asks on stage. “Or will he die of a massive coronary on a golden toilet? Or will he be assassinated by a group of caring nuns?” The fantasies only get darker from there.
Now that it’s actually happening, Cross can’t bring himself to dance in the streets.
“I kinda got some shit from my wife and her friends,” the comedian tells me on this week’s episode of The Last Laugh podcast. When the race was officially called for Biden on Saturday, Nov. 7, Cross’ wife Amber Tamblyn joined the rest of their Brooklyn neighborhood in “going nuts and dancing” outside.
“And I did not share in that sentiment,” he admits. “I was just like, you guys jump around and dance to Kool and the Gang, that’s great,” he adds. “I’m going to reserve it for when it’s actually good again.”
“I’m much less emotional about that kind of stuff,” Cross continues. “And I quickly launched into colder, practical psychology. I was like, well, that’s good, that’s one step, but there are several steps to go and it’s going to get worse before it gets better. And now comes the hard part.” As “happy” as he was to see everyone else celebrating, he says he’s just too “skeptical and cynical” to join in.
At the same time, Cross insists he’s not one of those “completely negative, humorless, angry” progressives who says things like, “It should have been Bernie Sanders and if it’s not, then fuck it, America sucks and you’re all just sheep and you know Obama caged children too.”
If it seems like Cross has a lot to get off his chest, it might be because for the first time in decades he doesn’t have the outlet of the stand-up stage.
“I tried two outdoor COVID-friendly shows and it just didn’t work,” he says. “So for me, I just have to wait to get back into those sweaty, basement, we’re-all-crammed-together Brooklyn bars to get the work done.”
Cross was working toward a new stand-up hour this past winter when those bars all shut down and he was forced to put everything on hold. Fortunately for his fans, the work he was doing was captured for Robert Milazzo’s podcast Assembly, which closely tracks the creative process of a different artist each season. In the new batch of episodes, which premiered this month, comedians—and former Last Laugh guests—Sarah Silverman, Patton Oswalt and others analyze their friend’s long road from improvised riffs to solid bits.
“I was really reluctant and I think I probably even said no,” Cross says of his decision to subject himself to this type of intense scrutiny. “I mean, when you do stand-up and it’s out there, that material is burned. Unlike any other art form, you can’t repeat it. And believe me, I wish I could go out and do a fucking Eagles greatest hits tour and pocket 400 million bucks.”
When I point out that Jerry Seinfeld has tried something along those lines, he adds, “Well, that’s just terrible.”
Now that he still can’t perform live more than eight months later, Cross says he misses stand-up “almost in a childlike” way. “I miss it because I’m not allowed to do it anymore,” he explains. “It’s that thing of like, it’s taken away? Well now I really miss it.”
Highlights from our conversation are below and you can listen to the whole thing right now by subscribing to The Last Laugh on Apple Podcasts or wherever you listen to podcasts.
How he thinks the Trump presidency will end
“My guess is that he’ll leave saying that this is wrong and this is messed up and the Democrats are evil and this is an injustice, but I’ll go. I think he will end up couching it in this kind of classic Trump, I’m the victim, but what I’m doing is noble. ‘I leave reluctantly, but I’m doing it for all of you.’ Because it’s inevitable, it’s going to happen and he obviously doesn’t want to be seen marching out of there frog-tied. And I think he’ll just twist it so that he’s the hero and he’s the martyr. All this stuff about him running again in 2024 is garbage, he’ll never do that. I think a lot of that is he’s just trying to keep raising money. He’s got a lot of expenses. He’s going to have a lot of billable hours to several law firms coming in the near future.”
Why he doesn’t buy the rehabilitation of George W. Bush
“He’s terrible. He benefits from the American concept of—and this is what really I’m skeptical about Biden—is this idea of like, OK, let’s move on, let’s heal the country. I mean, that guy should be in jail and his Cabinet should be in jail. Some of them were. People got pardoned and they’re criminals. And they directly paved the way for Trump. So there’s nothing he can say to make what he did and who he is any better.”
How he knew he could make it as a professional comic
“I watched these people go up on stage, some were competent and some were just terrible and just the worst humor. And I remember thinking, I can do better than that. I guess you have to have that. And I don’t mean it to come off as cockiness. It wasn’t cocky. It made me think, OK, I can do this. Because that’s terrible and I know I can be at least more thoughtful than that. And funnier than that, or more original. And if anything, it just kind of eased my nerves. ‘Oh, if you like that, then I can do this.’”
On Netflix pulling his ‘W/ Bob & David’ sketch that included blackface
“I was very surprised and disappointed. I know everybody involved with it was. Netflix isn’t in the ‘we want to be friends with Bob and David business.’ They’re in the international business of not upsetting people and continuing to get subscribers. So it’s an easy, albeit thoughtless, decision to make. They’re not interested in having a discussion about it. They’ve got a business to run. And so we were just the unfortunate recipients of that purge of anything that remotely, even in a tertiary way, approaches that idea. So it’s all gone, it’s just gone. They scrubbed the whole episode. They didn’t even just take that sketch out. I mean, there are like three or four layers to the humor in it. And it’s not somebody who’s being offensive or doing it to be offensive, nor is the sketch itself trying to be offensive. And it actually makes a positive statement about the Black cop. I mean, it’s just thoughtless and they just said, I’m not interested in discussing what it means, get rid of it.”
Next week on The Last Laugh podcast: Co-star and co-screenwriter of Hulu’s ‘Happiest Season,’ Mary Holland.