In his new essay collection, I Drink for a Reason, former Arrested Development star David Cross aims at targets big (God, America) and small (indie filmmakers, ironic T-shirts, Jim Belushi) in the bile-flecked style of his stand-up work. This week, he takes his act on a countrywide publicity tour, but he paused, with dog Ollie, to visit with Emma Rosenblum in Tompkins Square Park.
No offense, but are you as cranky in real life as you come off in this book?
If there are a couple of adjectives people use to describe me, anger is usually in there. I’ve never taken that as criticism. It’s the way I naturally communicate. But I’m not faux-angry, like Lewis Black, or angry like a gun-toting crazy person. I’m just angry in a mild way—it’s not like I’m going to do anything about it. But listen, there’s plenty out there to be angry about. I’m not some mindless Quaker.
Are ironic T-shirts really worth getting angry about?
They’re an irritant, much like a grain of sand in an oyster. And they’re an easy target. It’s not like I sat down and said, “Oh, those fucking T-shirts at Urban Outfitters! Somebody has to do something about them!” It took me about five minutes to write that chapter.
Religion, on the other hand, not so easy, and it seems to be a pet hatred of yours.
Religion triggers a lot of emotions in me, most of which stem from being raised Jewish in a very Baptist community in the South. I didn’t believe any of it from an early age—the clubby quality of whatever religion or church you belonged to, Judaism included. It just struck me as foolish. And I know most people don’t agree with me about this, and I appreciate people who are like, “Man, I don’t want to hear it.” When I do stand-up about religion, and I do a lot, I try to be goofy about it, and not come across as a guy yelling, “Hey, that thing you believe isn’t true—you’re a fucking idiot!”
What’s your beef with Jim Belushi?
I’m not going to repeat the story. It’s in the book—go out and buy it. It’s edited, proper words are used, the punctuation is supreme, though, if you get a chance, flip through Belushi’s book next time you’re in Barnes & Noble. His eyes are photoshopped to the most amazing blue. You can swim in those eyes.
Any word on the long-awaited Arrested Development movie?
I have no idea. Jason [Bateman] is the guy who I’ll get updates from—we’re in a fantasy-baseball thing together—but he’s been working nonstop, and I don’t really seek out information. I’ll believe it when I’m on the set and somebody says “action.”