David Cross sharpens his standup chops

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      He’s ba-a-ack! Even though he never really le-e-eft!

      David Cross hasn’t toured a standup show since 2009. Most comics say if they take a week or two off, their timing gets rusty. So what’s seven years going to do to a guy?

      Not to worry. He’s still got his chops.

      “I mean, I’ve been doing sets for a long time,” he says on the phone from New York City a day before his scheduled first night of the tour in San Diego. “Just little drop-ins at friends’ shows and stuff like that. But as far as putting the whole set together, I started really working on it, like, two months ago, and I did do kinda secret one-hour shows at a theatre here in New York last week and the week before that. So I feel good. Ready to go.”

      Cross has been super busy with other projects lately, most notably a revamp of his old sketch series Mr. Show, now called W/ Bob & David, with his long-time partner Bob Odenkirk. He’s also been working on a reboot of Arrested Development and a bonus third season of The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret. A break in his schedule, which included shoulder surgery, got him thinking about a return to his roots.

      Being an experienced vet of the standup scene, Cross knows what to expect. As someone who does his writing from the stage, he realizes no matter how planned out the hour is, his act is fluid. How the tour starts is going to be different from how it ends.

      “I don’t know when or where, but there are going to be a handful of sets that are off, that aren’t good, and there are going to be a handful that are just amazing. And I can’t even tell you what the difference is,” he says. “You’re constantly, intuitively working. I’m going to be doing, like, 60-some-odd shows and I’ll be learning from each and every one of them.”

      His upcoming JFL NorthWest festival show will be his seventh stop. But he’s looking at (possibly) returning to some of the cities from early in the tour to give them the more evolved iteration. He says his later shows always end up being different from his earlier ones. “As I’m winding it up I imagine there’ll be new jokes, new riffs within the bits, and that just comes from doing an hourlong set. And it’ll get tighter and all that.”

      The tour name, Making America Great Again!, is ironic. This isn’t a political screed. Thematically, it’s varied.

      “I talk about the gun issue and I dabble in religion just because I love it so much and I love talking about it that way over a public-address system to thousands of people,” he says. “So it really is kind of all over the place in a good way, hopefully. I certainly don’t want to hear an hour of political comedy or an hour of anecdotal stuff. I think it’s a pretty good mix I got going. Even the first 20 minutes is just sort of goofy observational stuff.”

      But he does offer a political opinion on making Canada great again.

      “You guys are heading in the right direction,” he says. “You got rid of Harper. That’s huge. That’s a big deal. The pendulum has swung back. I think you guys have made a start.”

      JFL NorthWest presents David Cross at the Vogue Theatre on Tuesday (February 2).