After many hard-working years of toil, sweat and tears, comedian Dave Ross is experiencing cinematic success. Thanks in part to the lucrative popularity of the production Women, an original sketch-comedy show co-written by Ross and presented by the Independent Film Channel, he’s learning how to enjoy financial comfort in between touring the United States, selling sitcoms around Hollywood and starring in Comedy Central’s epic hit, Drunk History.
“Right now I’m chilling, which is nice,” says Ross. “I’ve been doing stand up full speed without any breaks since I started seven years ago. In the past year I made a little bit of money. Now that I have money in the bank, I’m not worried so much.” But for Ross, relaxed doesn’t mean lazy. “I’m still doing stand up and writing comedy,” he says. “I’m also trying to sell a sitcom, so there’s been a lot of meetings.”
While the blockbuster appeal of Women, Drunk History and his own touring has rewarded him financially, Ross fully appreciates it since the talented performer almost ended up homeless. “Last year I hit rock bottom. Totally broke. I was touring heavily and collecting unemployment, but I wasn’t on the road, and that was where my money was coming from. My sketch group and I sold some a show to IFC, but it took a while for them to pay us. I was so sad. If you can’t buy food or pay your rent, you feel like garbage.”
There is an ancient entertainment adage: “Pain plus time equals comedy.” Ross has a style that embodies this with observations like, “I love being in my thirties, because being in my twenties sucked. You can sum up my twenties in one phrase, Amanda,” he says, whining sarcastically to dramatic applause as, with one word, the audience feels the hurt. “When you turn thirty, a man in a trench coat knocks on your door. If you let him in he puts all of your movie posters in frames.”
“When I started doing comedy I was just scared that I would be bad,” says Ross. “At some point I stopped being afraid because I just wanted to be good. Now I’m much more relaxed. Last year I did a really big tour that ended with me headlining at The Los Angeles Improv. I performed later at Meltdown Comics. At the Improv I just did jokes, but at Meltdown I went off book and talked about what was on my mind.” Ross killed that night, entertaining the crowd with personal stories about growing up. “I just talked confidently about things and had fun. I went on a first date with a girl I met there that night. It was great showing her who I was with my act.”
Drunk History was a very original experience for Ross. “They tell you to drink beforehand and be at least two beers in. I was nervous.” The production crew ended up in his apartment for more than twelve hours. “They gave me a location fee. We all got drunk together. I ended up drinking six dark beers and blacking out. The nurse had to give me oxygen. I told my story before I blacked out and afterwards, but I remember at one point I just started singing a Bright Eyes song to the director.”
For Ross, cannabis is just a fact of life. “I like it. I think it’s great. I don’t really have complex thoughts about it. I’ve been smoking weed for twenty years. I smoke weed every day. I have a prescription for it because it helps me sleep. Smoking in public or at parties feels weird to me, so it’s nice to have a power chill out when I get home at the end of the day.”