When planning out his “Oh Come On” tour, comedian/actor/writer David Cross thought big.
The tour takes him across North America this summer, then to Europe, then back to North America for another leg in the fall.
He’ll stop by the Bing Crosby Theater on Monday.
Rather than piece a show together using bits from different sets from throughout the years, Cross decided to actively build a new set.
With a bunch of ideas rolling around, Cross took a glance at his calendar.
Having wrapped as Tobias Fünke on the critically acclaimed show “Arrested Development” and after “Bliss,” the show he created for the U.K.’s Sky One, wasn’t picked up, Cross realized he had a relatively open 2018 and plenty of time to develop new material.
But before Cross hit the road, and once he had “way too much material,” Cross decided to start small, performing at 100-seat capacity spaces like Brooklyn’s Union Hall.
At these smaller shows, Cross took advantage of the more intimate setting and asked the audience to help him hone the material.
First, Cross would do a short set and then chat with a guest. He’d then prep the audience on how the rest of the night would go.
“I would say ‘When I come back out, that’s what I think the show is and we’ll go from there,’ ” he said from his home in Brooklyn. “ ‘And if you’d be so kind, if anyone wants to stay, I’d love to have a Q&A about the set.’ ”
Cross would perform, then drill the audience about the material: Were there too many or too few dad jokes? Was there too much Trump material? Too little? Would this bit fit better here? Is this joke too short? Too long?
The tour’s title, “Oh Come On,” even came from one of those audiences.
After these smaller shows, Cross moved to slightly bigger gigs at Littlefield Performance and Arts Space and the Bell House.
He then performed at the Boston Calling Music Festival, Clusterfest in San Francisco and the Chicago Theatre.
“Now I feel all the questions are answered,” he said. “I know what the sequencing is. I know what to drop, what to expand and it’s all good. I’m very happy to get out there.”
Through those gigs, Cross has developed a show that’s a mix of personal and political material.
He’ll talk about his experience as a first time father (Cross and his wife, actor/writer Amber Tamblyn, had a daughter last year), though he noted that audience members don’t have to be parents to enjoy those jokes.
And, unavoidably, Cross has a few jokes about President Trump, too.
“Really, it’s less about Trump and more about his fans and the environment,” he said.
Even after all that work honing the set with fans, Cross knows his show is bound to change as the tour goes on, thanks to the tangents he sometimes goes on while performing.
To help him keep things straight, he films every set. After watching a show, he will sometimes add comments and jokes he made off the cuff into the act for future shows.
As an example, Cross recalls the show he did in Spokane in 2016 as part of his “Making America Great Again” tour.
“Whatever the show I did then, I guarantee you 30 percent is different from … what was in the special, which was taped in April, and then another 30 percent was different by the time I recorded the CD, which was in July in Toronto,” he said.
With the latest season of “Arrested Development” out on Netflix, “Sorry To Bother You,” the Boots Riley film Cross is featured in, in theaters and a TV show pitch in the works, Cross has plenty on his plate.
But the process of piecing a show together and the opportunity to visit friends and fans while on tour will always eventually bring him back to the stage.
“At the end of every tour, I would always tell people ‘You guys are awesome. This is so much fun. I promise I won’t make it another five years,’ ” he said. “Then I finally held up my end of the bargain.”