Comedian David Cross is over that disastrous St. Louis set — but Florida is dead to him
David Cross has been a prolific figure in comedy for nearly 30 years, with memorable performances like Tobias Funke in “Arrested Development,” his sketch comedy show “Mr. Show with Bob and David” and countless standup sets.
Now, Cross is releasing a new special on his website on Feb. 12, “I’m From the Future.” In his signature politically satirical style, he tackles things like the pandemic, anti-vaxxers and the ethics of wishes.
Cross’ new special has a lot to do with the pandemic, he said on Thursday’s St. Louis on the Air, but it has plenty of lighthearted content, too.
“I talk about in a very enlightening, humorous way about having to put my dog down,” he deadpanned. “So there's that part. The rest of it, 82% approximately, oh, it's all the optimistic, joyful, life-affirming stuff.”
The title of his special references one of his bits, in which he imagines telling a group of kids what they’ll be angry about once they get older. He said one thing he’s optimistic about is young people.
“I have a little girl who is about to turn 5 next week,” he said. “And I watch her and I watch her friends and her playmates and her classmates — and that gives me total hope.”
Cross was scheduled to come to St. Louis on a tour last year, but the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic led to its cancellation. On that tour, he would’ve braved a city with which he’d previously had an uncomfortable relationship. Cross previously branded St. Louis “the most humorless city in America” after a particularly rough 2001 standup date at St. Louis University.
As Cross recalled, the disapproving audience didn’t get mad at him — they just left quietly.
“I've had people yell and scream and throw things, but that was the most jarring,” he said. “You know, I have some respect for it.”
Cross said he only learned on his way to the gig, after being picked up at the airport by two SLU students, that he was headed to the oldest Jesuit university in the country.
“And I'm like, ‘I'm sorry, did you say it's a Jesuit school?’” he said. “And I was like, ‘Have you guys seen my act?’”
Cross said that not even 10 minutes into his set, people started leaving en masse, creating a bottleneck at the door. The roughly 20% of the audience who stayed, he added, were great.
“That was really bad. I mean, it was funny for me, it'll go in my memoir, but it was, you know, not good for the Jesuits there,” he said.
Pivoting from comedy work, Cross recently took a dramatic turn in a featured role on HBO’s “Station Eleven,” a series that depicts life after a pandemic kills nearly everyone on the planet. Cross said he came across the opportunity for the role when he was in a strict lockdown in Toronto with his wife and daughter, seeking any work he could get just so he could get out of the house.
“That was a bit brutal. It was really depressing. It was a tough time for me, it was tough on our marriage,” he said. “So one of the things I got to do was, I was offered this part on ‘Station Eleven.’ And it suited me.”
Cross added that watching the show once it came out was an emotional experience.
“I burned through it so quickly. It was just wonderful. I think it's one of the best shows I've seen in years and years and years,” he said. “I cried watching the last two episodes.”
As for his relationship with St. Louis, he believes it’s been mended since that 2001 show at SLU. He returned to the city after a long absence in 2018, playing the Pageant. He said he had a positive memory of that show.
In fact, the comedian said St. Louis no longer ranks as the most humorless city in the country.
“No, you’re way down on the list,” he said — now displaced by Tampa, Orlando and Palm Beach. Cross said he had to institute a strict anti-Florida policy after his last tour.
“I said, ‘Eff it; no more Florida, and I will stick to that.”
“St. Louis on the Air” brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. The show is hosted by Sarah Fenske and produced by Alex Heuer, Emily Woodbury, Evie Hemphill and Kayla Drake. Jane Mather-Glass is our production assistant. The audio engineer is Aaron Doerr.