The Phil gets the Fünke treatment

David Cross, comedian, producer and comedian, talks stand up, politics and family.

In the midst of his “Oh Come on Tour,” renowned producer, actor, stand up, and everyone’s favourite Blue Man, David Cross took some time out of his hectic schedule to address a GMB packed with students who hold a particular penchant for laughter.

Cross was greeted by a rapturous applause upon entering to receive his Medal of Honorary Patronage, and yet his generally unassuming demeanour, encapsulated by his overall confusion at the setting he was in, made what should have been a proud moment a rather amusing one instead. Once the formalities passed, Cross took to do what he does best; make the audience laugh. He enthusiastically passed Phil President Sorcha Ryder’s request that he make an opening address, by leaping to the podium, taking out what seemed to be a pre-prepared speech, before enunciating, “if you are reading this, it means I am dead.”

Quick wit was omnipresent throughout Cross’ remarks, with lines such as “I think I speak for all of us here when I say I just had a baby,” and references to Katie Hopkins being caught in a house on fire, proving particularly memorable. However, the star of Alvin and the Chipmunks 2 made it clear that he would be utilising this event to explore more complex issues. Such topics in the opening minutes ranged from Cross’ realisation of what it meant to be a father and an analysis of the gift of human life through bizarre reference to the Jonah and the Whale Bible story. In light of this, he sarcastically claimed he would be raising his first born daughter as “not only Christian, but a strict first-century kind.” His assertion that the Jonah story was “about the truest thing in the Bible,” was equally effective.

Renowned for his outspoken political beliefs, Cross’ opening moments also boasted profound philosophical observation. Condemning the state of politics, racism, and inequality in the USA throughout his visit, Cross observed that hate was something that must be taught. He reflected on how he came to realise this through his daughter, commenting that “she hasn’t learnt how to hate. She hasn’t learnt that one religion doesn’t accept the other. She’s totally innocent, apart from original sin of course.” Indeed, moments like these meant that the Cross talk appealed to comedians and philosophers alike.

Having ensured he had the audience in his palm following one of the Phil’s more memorable opening addresses, Cross continued in the same vein throughout his Q and A. When asked how his new show differed from his last, he noted that this performance was heavily current affairs orientated. “We’ve got Trump jokes, Dad jokes, they’re all in there. Another big part is I don’t drink before I go on, so that’s made it a little bit tighter.” Cross also shone a light on his creative process, ruing the fact that he could never be a “sit down and write your jokes” kind of comedian. “I’ve tried it, and it doesn’t work for me. Usually, my jokes come from experience.”

The highlight of what was an incredibly intriguing event was undoubtedly Cross’ analysis of his storied career. A producer, actor, writer and stand up, Cross acknowledged that the latter will always be his true calling. “Each discipline fulfils different needs and desires, but stand up is what I will always go back to.” He offered amusing anecdotes of working on Bob and David, noting that the alternative comedy he was experimenting with back then is undoubtedly the norm now. In particular, he recalled the one skit for the show that got turned down by HBO, which involved a woman throwing a plastic baby onto the floor and screaming that nobody cared about it. Fans of Cross’ most renowned on screen character, Tobias Funke from Arrested Development, certainly got what they bargained for. They learned that Cross originally applied to play Gobe, but took the originally bit-part role of Tobias, because he just “got him straight away”. “It meant I had to move back to LA from New York, which my girlfriend wasn’t too happy about, but it was such a special part that I thought I just had to do it.” Cross’ recollections of fighting between cast and crew towards the end of the show’s production were perhaps less inspiring.

Before it was time to get off the stage as it were, Cross paid homage to his wife and actress Amber Tamblyn, that has “made me far more open to people’s views,” and noted his gratuity when it came to “the hate she takes from her fans for my controversial nature.”

Having discussed everything from Donald Trump to Brett Kavanaugh and even Jonah and the Whale, Cross bid farewell to the Phil and was once more greeted with an applause that only a member of the Blue Man Group could warrant.