Random 8

David Cross

David Cross. Credit: Mindy Tucker

One random comedian, eight random questions; it's the ultimate test of funny person and fate. This week we're letting off the living-legend alert - dusting off the classic-comic klaxon - as one of the great American stand-ups heads to the UK.

David Cross has an almost Rolling Stones-like back-catalogue of live albums - many of them on revered music labels like Sub Pop - and he begins a British tour tonight; that's at Belfast's Limelight, followed by dates in Dublin, Glasgow, London and Manchester. The show? It's called Worst Daddy in the World, so we popped the question: was there a key routine that everything else orbited around, while he wrote it?

"It's not like a one-man show about being a dad or anything like that," the Georgia-born comic explains, "but it definitely touches on it here and there, and then kind of acts like a thread that goes throughout the set and winds up putting the closing bit in that context. But again, it's just a stand-up set."

Cross is arguably our highest-grossing guest, having also starred in all sorts of TV and movie hits, sometimes onscreen, sometimes off. Arguably best-loved in the US is his sketch show with Bob Odenkirk, Mr Show, closely followed by his memorable turn as Tobias Funke in Arrested Development, plus roles in Men In Black, Megamind, Alvin And The Chipmunks, the upcoming fourth season of superpowered phenom The Umbrella Academy, all of the Kung Fu Panda movies, and that's just an amuse-bouche of his audio-visual exploits.

The Increasingly Poor Decisions Of Todd Margaret. Todd Margaret (David Cross). Copyright: RDF Television / Merman

It was stand-up first, though, and - if you needed a little added incentive - a few dollars from each ticket sale will go to The Innocence Project, which does wonders for the wrongly-accused. How did that link happen?

"I'm not sure of when I became aware of the Innocence Project exactly. I'm active and donate to a lot of different folks and groups that do that kind of work so must've been introduced to them along the way. They do VERY good and urgently important work. For no money or reward or anything like that. Any way I can help, I'll do. And this gets the word out about their work too, so maybe that'll help as well."

It's well worth looking into. Now, David Cross, your Random 8 await:

Who was your childhood hero (real or fictional)?

I don't know that I had a hero per-se but I really admired Martin Luther King Jr. In great part because my mom was very liberal and she made me aware of him and what he did. And that he was killed on my birthday and was from Atlanta (where I'm from) gave it a personal connection.

Also being Jewish and living in the south, there was a lot of casual antisemitism that I and my family had to deal with.

Which live event would you love to have attended?

This is easy! I've been saying this for years, I would like to go back in time and been to the show where Pete Townshend first destroyed his guitar. That would've blown my mind into a million pieces.

What's the worst thing you ever bought?

I don't know about worst, but the dumbest thing I've ever bought - meaning I was dumb for buying it - was a telescope that I bought when I was very drunk, alone in a house I had just built upstate in the woods and I had a good chunk of money (I was still single) and I sat on the porch with my laptop and ordered a telescope online.

I did zero research on anything related to telescopes, just clicked, 'buy'. Also I should point out I know nothing about telescopes or how they work or how they are assembled. Nothing at all. And it arrived and it was HUGE!!! Like six and a half feet tall with all these mirrors and shit.

After calling the company several times with them trying to walk me through how to assemble it, I still couldn't figure it out. It sat around for years until I donated it to a school. Ridiculous. And it cost like a thousand dollars or something like that.

David Cross: The Worst Daddy in the World tour. David Cross

Is there a book, movie or album that changed your life?

Oh yeah, multiple ones. Punk rock changed my entire trajectory. Reading Lenny Bruce's biography when I was young. Seeing the movie Tommy when I was little. Seeing Laurie Anderson live when I was 17.

Ever gatecrashed anything of note?

The Royal Wedding - Harry and Kate. I was hired to mingle in the crowd but it turned out they wanted the old footballer David Cross who used to play for West Ham and/or the violinist for King Crimson. I never told them the truth.

Who's the most interesting person you've ever met?

Werner Herzog - did a movie with him and having (a looong) dinner with him and the director is a memory I cherish and will never forget.

What's the best thing you ever wrote?

A love letter to my wife when we were first dating.

Which place you've visited was the biggest anti-climax?

Venice, Italy. People were fucking assholes and it's a dirty tourist trap. Every other part of Italy I've been to (I talk about going to Bologna in this current set) has been great. But Venice can suck my dick.

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