Tuesday, April 22, 2008

David Cross thrills fans, confuses old lady at live 'What's My Line?' show

While seeing my friend Patti serve as hostess of a weekly live staging of the classic game show "What's My Line?" at the Barrow Street Theatre, I wondered who would be the week's celebrity mystery guest. I was hoping for someone of equal or greater caliber of LeVar Burton, who was a previous mystery guest for the staging.

After the first three panelists -- a singer/songwriter for "Sesame Street" (Chris Cerf, son of frequent "WML" panelist Bennett Cerf, responsible for the star-studded "Put Down The Duckie"!); a Good Humor Lady who also appeared as a guest on the original "WML"; and a trombonist for the New York Philharmonic -- I anxiously awaited the evening's mystery guest.

Before David Cross could even fully emerge -- I think only his goatee had made it past the curtain -- I tossed my fists in the year and howled. About half the crowd, which skewed older perhaps because they are nostalgic for the original game show, seemed confused about why some of the crowd was going bonkers.

While pinching his throat, Cross answered the blindfolded panelists' questions using the voice of Maple Syrup, the Jheri-curled soul singer he played on "Mr. Show."

One of the funniest moments of the night was when the panelists correctly determined that the sitcom he's best known for is "Arrested Development" and deduced in a conference that he was either "Jason Bateman, Jeffrey Tambor or Will Arnett." Cross threw his head back with laughter. The panelists came close, but couldn't determine who it was after 10 questions were answered in the negative.

Cross said he had to postpone the "What's My Line?" appearance twice because his "girlfriend was having an abortion," which made the miffed old woman to my right ask me "Is this the kind of humor they had on his show?"

He discussed the awkward encounter of working with "Inside the Actors Studio" host James Lipton on "AD," admitting that he still hates what Lipton does but thought he was a nice guy. Cross said that while they were prepping for a scene, a tech guy complimented Cross on his comedy album; according to the comedian, Lipton then asked Cross if he would be making fun of him (again) on his next album.

Cross also said that the blue makeup he wore for "Arrested's" Blue Man Group scenes prohibited him from doing pretty much anything without it smudging. The real BMG guys, he said, wear a unitard and only paint their faces blue; Cross said he had to wear paint from head to toe.

He talked about the new sitcom pilot he's filming for HBO, which he said is being staged on the set of "Everybody Loves Raymond." He said his character lives with two roommates who are "idiots" representing the politically extremist left and right, and he's in the middle. He said he leaves early next week to go shoot it with "Bob" (presumably "Mr. Show" costar Odenkirk).

Cross' appearance was outstanding and "What's My Line" is a lot of fun. J. Keith van Straaten is a hilarious host, who's quick on his feet and a solid interviewer. The panelists rotate, and upcoming notables include John Oliver, Nick Stevens and Doug Benson. The show's run, recently extended, is Monday nights at 8 through May 26. Definitely check it out.

And now for my crappy cell-phone pic of David Cross on the set of "WML," which is why I led off with the photo from "WML's" Web site:


sometimeslisa said...

aw, man... I lurve David Cross...