Theater & art

It’ll be a show, just not ‘Mr. Show’

Bob Odenkirk (left) and David Cross teamed up in the 1990s for “Mr. Show,” an HBO sketch comedy series that featured alternative comedians both as cast members and writers.
Bob Odenkirk (left) and David Cross teamed up in the 1990s for “Mr. Show,” an HBO sketch comedy series that featured alternative comedians both as cast members and writers.

The bad news for fans of HBO’s inventive sketch program “Mr. Show” is that Bob Odenkirk, David Cross, and Brian Posehn will be touring for only about three weeks with “An Evening With Bob & David (and Posehn).” The good news is that the Boston stop will include a full show at the Citi Shubert Theatre Friday and a sold-out discussion of the trio’s new book of never-produced film and sketch scripts, “Hollywood Said No!,” at the Brattle Theatre in Cambridge on Saturday. And there is plenty more on the way from Odenkirk and Cross, including a full “Mr. Show” reunion tour in 2015.

Odenkirk and Cross originally got back together to produce a book, quickly turning to screenplays they had written with Posehn for the satirical film “Hooray for America!” and the more sketch-oriented “Bob and Dave Make a Movie.” The movies never got made, but the pair thought a book would be a good way for them to resurface.

“We both went off and read them, because neither of us had read them in 10 years,” says Odenkirk. “And we both said, ‘These are pretty damn funny. There’s a lot of laughs in here.’ ”


That led to a “Mr. Show” reunion of sorts on the audiobook version of “Hollywood Said No!,” which features regulars Paul F. Tompkins, Jay Johnston, Scott Aukerman, Jerry Minor, and Mary Lynn Rajskub. It’s clear the group had fun with the scripts, adding a few improvisations and cracking each other up. Odenkirk urges people to check out that version. “Everybody’s on it, everyone’s great,” he says. “It’s so much fun.”

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The abbreviated six-city tour started in New York earlier in the week. The full reunion will mark the 20th anniversary of “Mr. Show” in 2015; this run will be its own animal. “This isn’t ‘Mr. Show,’ ” says Odenkirk, “This is ‘An Evening With Bob & David (and Posehn).’ We’re going to do sketches, for sure, and we’re going to reference ‘Mr. Show’ in a really fun way. That’s why we have that thing called the ‘Mr. Show Experience.’ ”

Odenkirk is proud of the show-opening “Mr. Show Experience” bit, and without revealing too much, says it should be a treat for fans. “It’s almost like if you had a favorite movie and you went to an amusement park and they had a thrill ride that was like ‘The So-and-So Experience,’ ” he says. “It’s not that exactly, but it’s kind of where they take that thing you love, then they bland it up. They steal moments from it, but they kind of turn it into a kitchen sink mess that has none of the actual guts of the thing you love.”

All three performers will also be doing stand-up on the current tour. Odenkirk has done some stand-up but hasn’t focused on it like Cross and Posehn have, both of whom have released popular stand-up albums and toured. But Odenkirk is getting back to it with a new, more personal approach. “I recently did a set in New York, and it was so rewarding, and it really led me back into stand-up in a fresh way that has made me very excited about this,” he says. “Getting on stage and being honest and sort of revealing yourself has been really rewarding. So I’m looking forward to doing some of that. And I wouldn’t mind doing more of it in the future.”

Everyone on the tour has been busy recently, Cross with the revived “Arrested Development” on Netflix, a new Showtime pilot, and film work; Posehn with his new album, “The Fartist”; and Odenkirk playing Saul Goodman on “Breaking Bad.” He’s also making a new foray into sketch comedy by producing, writing, and acting on “The Birthday Boys.” The show, which premieres Oct. 18 on IFC, features the comedy troupe of the same name, with Odenkirk playing assorted characters in support.


He’s happy to bring a bit of “Mr. Show” edge to the group’s tendency toward more silly sketches, like those about a group of roofers who get their own TV show or some friends who pull particularly toothless “pranks.”

“I think our sensibilities are a good match,” he says. “I’m a little more topical. I care a little more about commenting on culture than they do. And I also have more of an ax to grind.”

Fans are heartbroken that “Breaking Bad” will end its run with the series finale on Sept. 29, but Odenkirk is just proud to have been a part of it. “I was not sad to see it end,” he says. “I was proud to see it be awesome.”

There has been talk of a spinoff for Odenkirk’s sleazy lawyer character, but Odenkirk says he doesn’t know if that will happen. “I’ve heard it’s possible, but that’s all I know.”

Nick A. Zaino III can be reached at