Skit’s It In S.F.

From The Oakland Tribune
Preview Cover Story 

January 13, 2006
By Christina Troup

Nothing solidifies your celebrity status more than an imposter. It’s sort of like a career high-five, albeit a creepy one, that suggests whatever level of fame you’ve achieved affords enough kickbacks that someone may just want to reap the benefits of a shared resemblance.

And as it turns out, male pattern baldness and impaired vision can be used to your advantage, gentlemen. Just ask the satiny-smooth headed, bespectacled comedian David Cross.

Apparently, a Cross imposter was lurking the streets of lower Manhattan in November 2005, scoring enough women and free booze to send the Internet abuzz with sightings and warnings of the fake “Mr. Show.”

“The Internet engenders things very quickly. (Rumors) get buzzed about and linked to very quickly and then they go away, that’s how I heard about it. My favorite part about this was that there were pictures posted of the imposter that were really of me. I couldn’t win either way,” says the real David Cross. “But if it’s true, I just hope he was really good in bed.”

Despite being distressed by the rumors, the 41-year-old admits it was only a matter of time before someone hatched up such an ingenious plan.

“It really isn’t the safest thing to do because I’m wanted in five states. But, I mean, can you blame the guy? If God gave you these here good looks, then get out there and get what you can,” he says from his Los Angeles home.

Chances are, if you hear about any San Francisco sightings of the sardonic comedian this week, they’re probably true. Cross is in town for the fifth annual comedy showcase known as Sketchfest. On Saturday he performs with the New York-based oddball variety show “Tinkle,” that boasts an impressive cast of characters including Todd Barry, Jon Benjamin and special guests Bob Odenkirk, Brian Posehn and Paul F. Tompkins, all of whom starred with him in HBO’s critically-acclaimed sketch series “Mr. Show.”

On Sunday, Cross and Odenkirk are saluted for combining their absurd comedic genius to create the cult classic series a decade ago.

Although Cross’ cult status is worthy of impersonation, it’s probably safe to assume that you’re still not too sure who the hell this guy is.

Perhaps his portrayal of Tobias Funke, the nearly nude psychiatrist turned aspiring actor in Fox’s Emmy-winning show “Arrested Development,”
rings a bell?

It seemed like the darkly hilarious sitcom about a wealthy dysfunctional family would be just the right venture to finally catapult Cross into the vernacular. But as it turns out, critical acclaim and yet another cult following wasn’t enough to keep the low-rated show afloat; the execs at Fox yanked the plug before Cross could become a household name.

“Personally, I don’t believe the antiquated rating system currently in place is accurate. I’m more than 100 percent confident that a lot more people were watching the show. But it definitely speaks to the kind of world we live in, not to mention the people at Fox, to know that it’s being replaced by something f—ing called ‘Skating with Celebrities,’ “ he says.

And while the show’s cancellation is very much a career bummer for Cross, he’s relieved that the incessant speculation has come to a hush.

“It’s kind of like when someone’s sick and about to die. You’re sad when they do, but happy that they’re not suffering anymore,” he says.

A run-down of Cross resume would lead one to believe that a conspiracy lay against the comedian ever achieving mainstream success. It started in the early 1990s, when Cross was a writer for the short-lived “Ben Stiller Show.” which went on to win a posthumous Emmy. Then there was the cancellation of “Mr. Show” and “Arrested Development.”

Sure, he’s had a handful of roles in films like “Ghost World,” “Scary Movie 2” and “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind,” but he admits that not very many quality opportunities come his way.

“I’m the cooler most of the time. The common denominator I bring to every situation is: Critical success? Yes. Financial success? No,” he says.

Although sounding somewhat defeated by the current turn of events, he’s looking forward to hightailing out of Los Angeles, visiting San Francisco and then heading home to New York — but first he’s hitting the shores of Kauai for some R&R and soul-searching.

“I have no work, no girlfriend, no obligations. I’m going to sit on the beach and search for wisdom,” says Cross. “I’m going to ask the sea turtles what I should be doing with my life. Not the real ones though. It’s the animated sea turtles that hold the answers.”

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