You may know David Cross as the deluded doctor-turned-actor Tobias Fünke on “Arrested Development,” as one half of the sketch duo running HBO’s “Mr. Show” or from any one of his dozens of TV and film appearances over his 30-plus year career.
If you ask the man himself, telling jokes onstage is where he feels most at home.
“This is going to sound a little overly dramatic,” Cross said over the phone from Brooklyn. “But stand-up is a need.”
When the pandemic forced him to take a year and a half hiatus from the mic, Cross, 57, felt like he’d lost a part of himself. “I missed doing a lot of things [while] being shut in but the only thing that was like a palpable void was stand up,” he said.
As New York re-opened over past few months, Cross hosted a series of small “working it out” performances near his home, which he called “life-saving.”
On Nov. 7 and 8, he’ll be headlining at The Bell House in Gowanus and filming the shows for a special called “I’m From the Future.”
The second night will be part of the return of the New York Comedy Festival, which runs Nov. 8-14 and features more than 200 performers from across the globe in shows in all five boroughs.
In addition to Cross, headliners include Marc Maron, Michelle Wolf, Vir Das, Megan Stalter, Gary Gulman, Michelle Buteau and Ronny Chieng. There will also be live events for Jon Lovett’s “Lovett or Leave It” podcast and Amanda Seales’ “Smart, Funny, and Black Live!” game show.
In announcing the festival’s lineup, founder Caroline Hirsch said she was “thrilled” to bring it back after being forced to cancel last year due to the pandemic.
For Cross, the Gowanus gig will replace a November U.S. tour that he had to call off.
“I got material way sooner than I imagined,” he said. “I kind of rushed to put together a tour, started booking stuff and that dovetailed with the Delta variant.”
Soon after tickets went on sale, he realized that he’d gotten a bit ahead of himself.
“I was thinking in a kind of self-centered way in the sense of ‘Well in New York, everything’s great. We’ve got the numbers down, people are wearing masks, people are behaving, people are doing the right thing and, outside of a handful of cops in Staten Island, we’re pretty much covering it.’”
When Cross postponed the tour, he told his social media followers that the move was a “difficult and deeply disappointing, but ultimately right decision.”
To avoid risking that his material could go out of date, he decided to film a special close to the Brooklyn home he shares with his wife, the actress Amber Tamblyn, and their young daughter. The intimate, laid-back environment of The Bell House is perfect for his more stripped-down approach this time around.
“This is not going to be slick. I’m not in a theater. It’s going to be loose, there’s going to be more drinking,” he said. “This is going to be like the way I used to do it for a long time—doing music clubs and being closer to the audience.”
He said the shows, which will run almost two hours, will feature musings on being the father of a 4-year-old, the strangeness of the pandemic and life with his old, sick dog: “Just some really great comedy subject matter.”
Festival schedule and ticket information: nycomedyfestival.com. Follow on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter under #MakeNYLaugh. Attendees at all shows will be required to show proof of vaccination to enter venues.
David Cross is on Instagram @davidcrossofficial and Twitter @davidcrosss.