Cross began his professional television career as a writer on The Ben Stiller Show. The short-lived Fox Network program hired him toward the end of the series' run, and he occasionally made brief appearances in the sketches. Most notably, he had a speaking role in one of the show's most ambitious sketches, "The Legend of T.J. O'Pootertoot", which was written almost entirely by Cross.
It was during this period that he first met Bob Odenkirk, with whom he would later co-create the HBO sketch comedy series Mr. Show in 1995. Cross later co-starred in another Fox production as Tobias Fünke in Arrested Development, which was originally intended to be only a minor role. In addition to these larger roles, he has played various lesser roles on shows like Just Shoot Me, The Drew Carey Show, NewsRadio, Strangers with Candy, and Aqua Teen Hunger Force. Since October 2005, Cross has been appearing as Stephen Colbert's archnemesis, a fictional liberal radio talk show host named "Russ Lieber" from Madison, WI on Comedy Central's The Colbert Report. He is currently working on an animated series for Comedy Central called Freak Show, which costars H. Jon Benjamin. Cross has appeared several times in the MTV2 show Wonder Showzen.
David Cross later teamed up with Bob Odenkirk to produce a feature film, based on one of their Mr. Show characters, called Run Ronnie Run. The film was satirical of the reality TV craze, and had cameos from many stars. However, Cross and Odenkirk came into creative conflict with the director, Troy Miller, and after nearly two years of production, New Line Cinema sent it straight to DVD.
In 1994 and again in 1999, Cross was a guest voice actor on Joe Frank's radio show, featured in the episodes "The Last Run", "A Hearing", "The OJ Chronicles" and finally, "Jam".
Cross maintains a notable stand-up career consisting of material that often blends left-wing political commentary and crude humor. He has released two highly-successful CDs to date, Shut Up You Fucking Baby! and It's Not Funny. He was also given his own one-hour comedy special on HBO in 1999 entitled The Pride Is Back. In 2004, Shut Up, You Fucking Baby! was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Comedy Album. Cross released his first tour film in 2003 entitled Let America Laugh, and was named number 85 on Comedy Central's list of the 100 Greatest Stand-ups of All Time.
In 2004, Cross provided voices for a Marine in the Xbox game Halo 2, and a store clerk named Zero in the game Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. Both characters were often whiny and humorous in nature. He was the voice of the violent, alcoholic "Happy-Time Harry" doll in Aqua Teen Hunger Force (credited as Sir Willups Brightslymoore). 2004 saw him direct the music video 10am Automatic for the two man blues-rock band The Black Keys. The video spoofs public access television.
In April 2005, Cross criticized stand-up comedian Larry the Cable Guy in a Rolling Stone interview, saying "It's a lot of anti-gay, racist humor — which people like in America — all couched in 'I'm telling it like it is.' He's in the right place at the right time for that gee-shucks, proud-to-be-a-redneck, I'm-just-a-straight-shooter-multimillionaire-in-cutoff-flannel-selling-ring-tones act. That's where we are as a nation now. We're in a state of vague American values and anti-intellectual pride." This caused Larry to devote a chapter to Cross and the "P.C. left" in his book GIT-R-DONE, claiming that Cross had "screwed with my fans, it was time for me to say something". Cross responded with an Open Letter to Larry the Cable Guy posted on his website. He continues to mock Larry in his stand-up, and satirized Blue Collar TV during a guest appearance on Wonder Showzen. In December 2005, he ended his performance on Comedy Central's "Last Laugh '05" by yelling "GIT-R-DONE!", Larry the Cable Guy's catch phrase, mockingly to the audience as he left the stage. He also pokes fun at Larry the Cable Guy's comedy in Freak Show, with a character called "Danny the Plumber Guy".
Cross appeared in The Strokes' music video for "Juicebox" as a bad local Morning Zoo radio DJ. He also appeared in The New Pornographers' video for "Use It" and, along with Bob Odenkirk and John Ennis, Yo La Tengo's video for "Sugarcube". He also appeared, along with Janeane Garofalo, in Superchunk's video for "Watery Hands".
Cross contributes to Vice Magazine, writing a column titled '"My America".
In October of 2005, Cross was sued by Nashville club owner Thomas Weber, accusing Cross of taping him without permission for Let America Laugh in violation of Weber's privacy rights. Weber put up a website called werenotlaughing.com. In April 2006, the case against David Cross himself was dismissed, leaving Thomas Weber to face Warner Music, Subpop Records, WEA Corporation, and the Alternative Distribution Alliance.
David Cross played the character Nathaniel Hörnblowér in the Beastie Boys concert film Awesome; I Fuckin Shot That! in the fictional segment "A Day in the Life of Nathaniel Hörnblowér", which was released in 2006 in theaters and on DVD.
Recent career developments
Shut Up You Fucking Baby! (2002) 2CD
Let America Laugh (2003) DVD
Rock Against Bush Vol. 1 (2004) CD/DVD (featured clip on bonus DVD)
It's Not Funny (2004) CD Discography
The TV Wheel (Pilot) (1995)
Mr. Show with Bob and David (1995)
The Drew Carey Show (1996, 1997) - Earl
NewsRadio (1996, 1998)
Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist (1997)
Space Ghost Coast to Coast (1997)
David Cross: The Pride Is Back (1999)
Tenacious D (1999)
Home Movies (2001)
Just Shoot Me (1999, 2000, 2003)
Aqua Teen Hunger Force (2002) - Happy Time Harry
Oliver Beene (2003) - Voice Over
Arrested Development (2003-2006) - Dr. Tobias Fünke
Crank Yankers (2003, 2004)
Celebrity Poker Showdown (2004)
The Colbert Report (2005-present) - Russ Lieber
Last Laugh 2005 (2005)
Tom Goes to the Mayor (2005)
Wonder Showzen (2006)
Freak Show (2006) - Benny, Primi & Various
Night of Too Many Stars (2006) - Himself
Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! (2007) - Pizza Man Television
Destiny Turns on the Radio (1995) - Ralph Dellaposa
The Truth About Cats & Dogs (1996) - Male Radio Caller/Bookstore Man
The Cable Guy (1996) - Sales Manager
Waiting for Guffman (1996) - UFO Expert
Men in Black (1997) - Newton, the Morgue Attendant
Small Soldiers (1998) - Irwin Wayfair
Ghost World (2000) - Gerrold
Chain of Fools (2000) - Andy
One Day... (2001) - The Turd
Life Without Dick (2001) - Rex
Pootie Tang (2001) - Pootie Tang imposter
Dr. Dolittle 2 (2001) - Dog/Animal Groupie #2
Scary Movie 2 (2001) - Dwight Hartman
Men in Black II (2002) - Newton, the Video Store Attendant
Martin & Orloff (2002) - Dan Wasserman
Run Ronnie Run (2002) - Ronnie
Melvin Goes to Dinner (2003) - Seminar Leader
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004) - Rob
Awesome; I Fuckin Shot That! (2006)
She's the Man (2006) - Principal Gold
Curious George (2006) - Junior Bloomsberry (voice)
School for Scoundrels (2006) - Ian
I'm Not There (2007) - Allen Ginsberg
Alvin & The Chipmunks (2007) - Ian Movies
"Watery Hands" by Superchunk (1997) - Actor
"Sugarcube" by Yo La Tengo (1997) - Actor
"10am Automatic" by The Black Keys (2004) - Director
"Juicebox" by The Strokes (2005) - Actor
"Use It" by The New Pornographers (2005) - Actor Music videos
Halo 2 (2004) - Marine
Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas (2004) - Zero Quotations
The section could be improved by integrating relevant items into the main text and removing inappropriate items.
In 2005, he contributed to the UNICEF benefit song, "Do They Know It's Hallowe'en?".
He has publicly declared his intense dislike of bands like Creed, Evanescence, Linkin Park, P.O.D., and Staind (once saying in his act, "I would rather hear the death rattle of my only child than listen to that shit") as well as the decision of so-called "alternative rock" radio stations to play them and other similar bands. Cross once met Scott Stapp, lead singer of Creed, at a celebrity poker game, who greeted him by sardonically saying, "Thanks for the words." Cross went on to win first place in that game .
David attended Northside High School of the Performing Arts in Atlanta, Georgia (now known as North Atlanta High School). He was a member of the Class of 1982. He was elected Treasurer of his Senior class and was voted Most Humorous by his classmates. According to the Northside High School Yearbook of 1982, his most embarrassing moment was "being asked this ridiculously immature question" ("What was your most embarrassing moment?").
David gave some rather harsh words for Inside the Actors studio host James Lipton, calling him "pretentious" with his head up his own ass. He also parodied him on an episode of Mr. Show James Lipton would later guest star as the Warden along side Cross in Arrested Development