EW Online talks to the funnyman about the Virgin Mary, biker bars, and his new comedy projects

By Dan Snierson
Updated September 17, 1999 at 04:00 AM EDT
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We know — you can’t stop mourning the cancellation of HBO sketch comedy series ”Mr. Show.” But fear not, ”Mr. Show” cocreator David Cross isn’t abandoning TV altogether: He’s starring in his own HBO stand-up special, ”David Cross: The Pride Is Back,” on Sept. 18 at 10 p.m. EW Online tracked him down at his L.A. office to ask him a few questions about work and stuff.

In your new special, you do a lot of jokes about religion, including one in which the Virgin Mary has her way with you, umm, sexually. Is there a fine line to walk in doing that type of humor?
The fine line is keeping it funny and not making it too preachy. I’ve always had trouble when I talk about something that’s important to me or something that I’m outraged about. Sometimes I tend to lose being funny and just get all preachy and apoplectic and I can’t articulate himself. I don’t care about offending people. And I disagree with the idea that you can’t make fun of somebody’s else beliefs.

What was your absolute worst stand-up experience?
I was at a biker bar outside Boston and it was really loud — people are yelling and music is playing — and I’m in the middle of trying to do jokes. So this classic cross-eyed loutish guy comes stumbling toward me in a drunken, lurching way and people start laughing, like, ”Oh s—, here comes Frankie!” And I put my mike in my left hand and hold it out to him and I go, ”What does Frankie have to say?” And he just puts me in this big crazy bear hug, so my hand with the mike is now squinched into my face near my mouth, and you can hear me going [simulating panicked, muffled noises] ”Oh god, no!” — and it’s all being amplified. And he’s a big guy and he’s squeezing me and he f—-in’ stinks. He reeks. And then he starts licking my face and everybody’s howling because I can’t get out of it. It was very, very s—-y.

A nation of grieving fans wants to know: Why no more ”Mr. Show”?
It was kind of a mutual decision. I think HBO would’ve been happy to have it remain status quo, but [”Mr. Show” cocreator] Bob Odenkirk and I, after four years of doing nothing else, had other things we wanted to do creatively. HBO wasn’t going to up our budget enough to allow us to have more time to do it, which would have meant another nine months of hardcore focusing on that show and doing nothing else…. Just [in the time off] since December, Bob had a baby, and I was able to do this special and do a film. And we wrote a ”Mr. Show” movie that we’re hopefully going to start filming in November — the big follow-through story is the Ronny Dobbs story, and then we’ll have these other little things coming in and out of it.

Tell us about the film you just shot.
It’s called ”Shiny New Enemies,” although they’re thinking of changing the title to ”Chain of Fools.” It’s this weird, dark ensemble comedy [starring Jeff Goldblum, Selma Hayek, Steve Zahn]. I play Steve Zahn’s friend, an over-the-top guy who’s way into scouting — like he was a boy scout and then he continued being a scout and opened up a scouting store. So I get rapped up in this weird little mystery thing and get the s— kicked out of me throughout the movie. I get shot and a lot of cool s—.

Last question: If you could be any member of Backstreet Boys, who would it be and why?
I’d be the silent, invisible one… actually, I already am.

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