David Cross is not a comic who spends much time on the weather, but when it comes to the Bay Area, he isn’t afraid to share his thoughts.
“You guys are a bunch of pussies,” he says. “I feel so sorry for all y’all. I really do. I really, truly feel sorry for my wife. She said, in her own words, and not in an exaggerated way, but as part of a conversation, that once it gets above 82 degrees, she’s uncomfortable. That’s pathetic.”
Never one to sugarcoat his words, Cross will be forced to entertain the heat-intolerant masses when he performs as part of the second annual Clusterfest on Sunday, June 3. Hopefully protected by the fog we all clearly rely on to sustain us, the festival, which includes all manner of comedy plus select musical acts, will welcome Cross for both a stand-up set and a panel dedicated to the series Arrested Development.
Fans can expect his jokes to be just as blue as the paint his character Tobias Fünke once coated himself in during an ill-fated audition for the Blue Man Group. That beloved episode of Arrested Development will soon be bolstered by eight new installments, with the first part of the show’s fifth season slated to premiere on May 29.
Joining Cross for a discussion of the series at Clusterfest will be co-star Tony Hale (Buster Bluth). In addition to chatting about the show’s upcoming episodes, it’s likely they’ll also touch on the mixed response to the series’ fourth season, which broke format by featuring episode-long forays that followed specific characters. While fans and critics found the structure confusing, Cross says he has actually come to love it.
“In the beginning, I wasn’t that into it,” he admits. “I really didn’t know how to watch it, and then around the seventh episode, I started figuring it out in a much clearer way. I realized what to look for and how to watch it, and after that, I really enjoyed it. When I finished, I actually thought, ‘I’ve got to watch that again.’ ”
Cross acknowledges that “most people didn’t have that experience” when it comes to Arrested Development’s fourth season. Mainly due to the complex schedules of the show’s cast, the structure provoked enough of a reaction that creator Mitch Hurwitz actually recently released a “remix” that put events into a chronological narrative and allows the characters’ stories to intertwine in the course of each episode.
Cross says he still prefers the original presentation of the fourth season, but he promises that the new episodes are largely a return to form.
“I wouldn’t say it’s exactly the same as it was,” he says, “but it’s definitely much closer to that formula.”
The story of Arrested Development’s rise from the ashes — Fox cancelled it in 2006 and Netflix revived it in 2013 — isn’t the only beloved series starring Cross the network gave new life to.
Strictly speaking, W/ Bob and David is a separate creation from Cross and co-star Bob Odenkirk’s series Mr. Show, but the former is, at minimum, a faithful spiritual successor to the HBO cult sketch program. When W/ Bob and David premiered on Netflix in 2015, fans were thrilled to return to the bizarre and brilliant world Cross and Odenkirk once populated with mom-and-pop pornography stores and a deformed young fan of heavy metal who attempts to take his favorite band’s lyrics (“Try Suicide”) to heart.
W/ Bob and David benefited from a trend that has seen vocal fans find the power to change the fates of television programs they love. Only weeks ago, Brooklyn Nine-Nine proved this once again. Cancelled by Fox — notice a pattern? — it won a new home at NBC in less than a day. That abrupt turnaround was due, at least in part, to an outcry on Twitter and other platforms, something Cross believes may have played a significant factor were Mr. Show airing today.
“All things being equal, I think if Mr. Show was around for social media and just the internet, basically, I don’t think it would’ve been cancelled,” Cross suggests. “I think people would’ve found it. Don’t forget that the only way people who didn’t have HBO found it — and the vast majority of America didn’t have HBO at that point — was by passing around VHS tapes. If there was social media back then, I think we’d still be doing it.”
Fortunately, Cross has found that opportunity with W/Bob and David — which he confirms will someday return with another season — along with the chance to continue on with Arrested Development. For now, he’s focused on his new stand-up tour, Oh, Come On, which will take him from Clusterfest to stops around the world, including a sweltering August gig in his hometown of Atlanta.
Naturally, Cross isn’t sweating the prospect of performing in the heat. He just wishes the Bay Area had the same strength to endure.
“When people say that someone has a lot of character, literally all it means is that you don’t whine about the weather,” he says. “That’s all it is. You guys have no character.”
David Cross, Sunday, June 3, 6 p.m. (Arrested Development panel) and 7:45 p.m. (live performance), at Clusterfest, Civic Center Plaza. $308 for a three-day pass; clusterfest.com