David Cross is many things to many people: A politically-charged stand-up comic, an author, the co-creator of "Mr. Show" and an actor revered for his role as the emotionally wounded, mustachioed and “never-nude” Tobias Fünke on the cultishly beloved series “Arrested Development.”
This fall, he broadens his appeal with “The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret,” a series originally created for U.K. audiences but premiering stateside on IFC October 1. As a co-writer and creator—alongside British comedian Shaun Pye—Cross also fills the titular role of Todd Margaret, a marshmallowy, feckless office worker plucked by his boss (played by another “Arrested Development" alum, Will Arnett) to head the London branch of the Thunder Muscle energy drink empire. Pratfalls and well-timed, socially excruciating situations are aplenty.
Additionally, Cross teams up with Arnett on the comedy series “Running Wilde,” which premiered on Fox September 21. We recently chatted with Cross about British versus American television, addressed the rumors of an “Arrested Development” movie and asked about the worst decision he’s ever made.
How did “The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret” come to be?
Initially, the idea to do a show in the U.K. was not mine. I was doing stand-up there a couple of years ago and two women from RDF Productions approached me after the show and asked if I’d be interested in getting together with a U.K. writer-producer and producing a show that I would be in. At first I said, “Nooooo!“ Then I said, “Yes!” Then I had to come up with a story and figure it out. I’ve never had an assignment like that.
You’ve got a new U.K. series and a new U.S. one. How do you feel about British versus American humor?
The sensibilities of the shows are extremely different. “Running Wilde” is much broader and silly and “Todd Margaret” is way more grounded in reality and awkward. I think British humor has stronger pitching. Once you get into the bullpen of American humor, I think they have better hitters.
And in both shows, you’re working with Will Arnett again.
It’s a punishment. I’m not sure if it’s a karma thing or something I did in a past life that wasn’t cool, but it’s been a huge burden and a painful experience. I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy and I’m actually going to find out who my worst enemy is and not wish it upon him.
To boot, he’s very unattractive.
Yes, and that voice is like nails on a chalkboard.
How does the comedic dynamic between you and Arnett differ in “Running Wilde” and “Todd Margaret?”
In “Running Wilde,” we’re clearly adversaries. We’re both after the same thing, which is this woman, Keri Russell’s character. I’m the fiancé of his love interest, and I’m like the ignorant, esoteric guy who’s really a coward at heart. But in “Todd Margaret,” it’s all about status. Brent Wilts [Arnett’s character] has completely higher status than I do. He’s very intimidating.
Your girlfriend, Amber Tamblyn, has a role on “Todd Margaret,” dumping you in the first episode. How was working with her?
It was great. If nothing else, it was great to—on somebody else’s dime—fly her to London. That’s the only shitty thing about this show; I was in London for half a year and it’s all-consuming: Writing, producing, acting, casting, post-production, editing, doing the sound mix, doing press for it. So it was great that Amber was able to come to London for a chunk of time.
Hawking Thunder Muscle is what leads Todd Margaret to London. What is your relationship with energy drinks?
I feel conflicted. It’s tenuous at best. It’s ever-changing. I’d rather not go into it.
How many times a week does someone ask you about the “Arrested Development” movie?
A week? Probably 15.
Any news about the “Arrested Development” movie?
Excuse me I didn’t hear you.
Any news on the “Arrested Development” movie?
My phone must be dropping out.
I see what you’re doing. Fine. Are Tobias’s Never Nude short shorts archived somewhere in case they’re needed again?
Have you heard of the “Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants” and the successful film that was made into? There’s a “Brotherhood of the Traveling Shorts.” It’ll be a Broadway show.
“Todd Margaret” is all about bad decisions. Are there any decisions that you truly regret?
Oh boy. Yes. I used to have a Google alert for my name. I did that for about a year and that was a tremendous mistake. Lesson learned.
"The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret" premieres Friday, October 1, at 10 p.m. ET/PT on IFC.
"Running Wilde" airs Tuesdays at 9:30 p.m. ET/PT on Fox.
The "Arrested Development" movie will be released sometime between nowish and the end of never.