Actor/comedian David Cross left Atlanta in 1982 after high school to seek fresh climes in New York City. He’s never turned back.
“I don’t hate Atlanta,” he said in an interview last week to promote his upcoming Tabernacle standup comedy show and Barnes & Noble book signing Saturday (UPDATE: the book signing was cancelled Thursday, no explanation given.). “I really don’t. I’m just disappointed by it. I think it’s overgrown and traded a lot of its charm for corporate strip malls.”
Cross, best known for his role on the Emmy-winning Fox comedy “Arrested Development,” still comes back to town a couple times of year to see friends and family. He especially likes East Atlanta, which maintains a bohemian, non-corporate feel.
“It feels like a community, a village,” he said. “That’s why I love New York.”
The cover of his book “I Drink For a Reason” features a photo of him looking pensive as he waits to board a plane at the Delta gate in New York before a trip last Thanksgiving to Atlanta.
He had his girlfriend and actress Amber Tamblyn take pictures of him waiting in line to get on the plane to show “how dehumanizing it is.” But he didn’t like those and opted for the more staid shot of him just sitting. Cross, by the way, gives Tamblyn a rather explicit shout out on his author flap bio. “She laughed,” he said. “She told her dad. He laughed even harder.”
He also has a surfeit of “blurbs” on his book cover. He said the publisher Grand Central Publishing insisted on him getting his friends to write blurbs. As a result, some are serious, many are amusingly facetious. The funniest is courtesy of actor Paul Rudd: “One of the funniest books I’ve ever skimmed!”
One blurb even compares him to Sen. Al Franken, a comic-cum-politician. Cross doesn’t rule out the possibility “way way way down the line. It might be something I’m interested in.” But he figures given his Atheist ways, he’d never get elected.
The book is a collection of essays, ranging from pure satire (an imaginary Fox TV executive meeting, a “Top Ten Top Ten Lists List”) to personal commentary (how evil Valentine’s Day is, why he hates Jim Belushi) to political thoughts (why God wants Mary J. Blige to have “bling,” what a jerk Bill O’Reilly is).
The potpourri is a bit like his standup show.
“I did not want to do a memoir,” said Cross, 45. “I didn’t want to do an anecdotal biography about my life in show business. I think that’s for later in life. And my ego isn’t that big either.”
He decided the mix-and-match approach worked best: “I didn’t want to restrict myself.”
The book landed on the New York Times bestseller list last month. “It was very much a surprise and certainly gratifying,” he said. “What’s even more surprising is how low the bar is set for that type of thing. I just naively assumed that it would take 100,000 copies to make it, like CDs. But you get 30,000 books sold and the publisher is [expletive] overjoyed.”
Cross enjoyed Bill Maher’s film “Religulous,” which questions religion. “He’s definitely preaching to the converted, no pun intended,” Cross said. “It was still fun to watch. It’s not like it was going to change my mind. It was funny and enjoyable.”
And while has badmouthed big corporate entities, he reluctantly has to give props to Whole Foods, which recently moved into his neighborhood. “New York is the last place you need a Whole Foods because there’s already a green market, a Polish meat place, a cheese place, all the stuff you need within five square blocks. Having said that, I had to go to a barbecue and popped in to get a bunch of stuff. It was all [expletive] great! I wanted to hate it but it was all good, including the ribs. They have their own in-house smoker! I’m rich so for me, it’s fine. I can afford it. But I still try to frequent the mom and pops.”
What does he think of Atlantic Station? “The idea is cool but the shops in it aren’t. There’s nothing wrong with the idea of mixed-use development where people live and can go downstairs to shop. It’s all charmless. There’s no character. I live in a pre-war 12-story building and downstairs I have all I need at my feet. There’s no Fox Sports Grill. There is a sports bar.”
As a teen-ager, he started doing standup at the Comedy Spot and the Punchline in the early 1980s. The Punchline, of course, is still open to this day. “I was so happy to have a stage to start doing [expletive] on,” he said. The space, he added ,”suits Atlanta to a tee.”
And what is Cross reading right now? The 2003 book “Under the Banner of Heaven,” by Jon Krakauer, so “I can have my facts straight” when talking about Mormonism. “He’s a great writer, very very studious. He does extensive research. I love his writing. His imagery is great.”
IF YOU GO TO THE CONCERT
8 p.m. Saturday, October 17
152 Luckie Street / 145 Nassau Street
Atlanta, GA 30303
IF YOU GO TO THE BOOK SIGNING (UPDATE: BOOK SIGNING HAS BEEN CANCELLED)David Cross signs “I Drink For a Reason”
Saturday, October 17, 200
Barnes & Noble
2900 Peachtree Road NE
Atlanta, GA 30305