Charlyne Yi accuses David Cross of saying racist crap to her a decade ago

David Cross at Today FM

I like Amber Tamblyn. A LOT. I think she’s bright and interesting and a great writer. My least favorite part about Amber has always been her husband, David Cross. Cross and Tamblyn have together for more than seven or eight years, since she was in her mid-20s and he was in mid-40s. They became engaged in 2011, and married in 2012. Currently, she’s 34 and he’s 53. Cross is an actor and comedian and frankly, I’ve never cared much for his absurdist-yet-attacking style of comedy. He seems exactly like the kind of guy who would think it is “funny” to make fun of someone who doesn’t speak English. He seems exactly like the kind of guy who would try to “reclaim” racist jokes as some kind of “comedic statement.” So, long story short, David Cross was accused of making racist jokes at the expense of a young actress. Charlyne Yi wrote her story on Twitter:

People pointed out the tweets to Cross, who sent a series of tweets to Yi and begged her to DM him so they could talk. His first reactions were “This seems crazy and WAY out of character for me” (does it though?) and “Charlene, i dont remember this at all! It’s bonkers to me and WAY, way out of character. DM me so I can understand all of this.” No really, is it out of character? My first reaction to Yi’s tweets was “that sounds like something David Cross would do.” When he got called out for not really addressing it online, he posted this:

“I don’t remember” is never a good excuse, honestly. I have very complicated feelings about this because years ago, when I used to drink, I would talk a lot of sh-t. I would offend people regularly, like every time I drank (yet another reason I stopped drinking). I would like to think that I never, ever said anything racist or completely inexcusable, but honestly, I don’t remember. I was sh-tfaced back then. “Not remembering” is not an excuse though. I guess what I’m saying is that when you were so offensive for so many years, it’s difficult to remember individual moments of offense. So of course I believe Yi, because of course victims remember the insults and the racist/sexist/bigoted bullsh-t they have dealt with over the years. Now remember this: David Cross’s wife Amber Tamblyn read James Woods the riot act because he didn’t remember sexually harassing her when she was 16 years old. Sigh…

Charlyne Yi

Photos courtesy of WENN.

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87 Responses to “Charlyne Yi accuses David Cross of saying racist crap to her a decade ago”

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  1. Kimma1216 says:

    I like him. I believe him and sometimes you do forgot things that you may not have realized may have offended someone. I think instead of calling him out she could have given him some heads up. IMO.

    • kate says:

      He didn’t realise saying “You don’t speak English, ching-chong-ching-chong” to an Asian woman was offensive? Really?

    • denisemich says:

      I like him but I also believe he said it. This is a guy who did/does a LOT of drugs. He may have thought he said one thing high and it was hilarious. Unfortunately, rarely are things as funny high as sober.

      • Handwoven says:

        I like him IN things – his line delivery is great – but in his own stuff he’s a total ass. I believe he said it.
        Let’s be honest; victims are more likely to remember the awful things said and done to them, PLUS why on earth would she make this up?

      • KBB says:

        Yeah, I love Arrested Development and Tobias. But I think he said it. He does that over the top southern accent thing a lot, and I think he is kind of a bully. He can be very mean-spirited in his standup.

      • argonaut says:

        Thought the same thing. I love Mr Show and some of his stand up and this sounds like something he would say. He seems like an asshole.

      • Deev says:

        I’ve been a fan of David Cross’s forever, and I think he did say some racist stuff to Charlyne Yi. It might have had something to do with being drunk/high, or at least the not remembering part might have had something to do with that. He also mentioned that she was dating a good friend of his at the time (Michael Cera, maybe?), and maybe he acted inappropriately “jokey” because of his relationship with her then-boyfriend. Anyway, his apology kinda sucked and there are no excuses for racist behavior. I’m disappointed.

      • Tiffany :) says:

        I like him on Arrested Development, but I don’t think it matters if he *knows* whether he said it or not. Sometimes, you just have to give people the benefit of the doubt. In this case, he should give Charlyne the benefit of the doubt, assume that he did say it, and apologize.

        I think back to things I said when I wasn’t this aware, and I know I have said things that were wrong. That is ok…as long as you acknowledge that it was wrong, listen to those whom you have wronged, and learn from it. Denial helps no one.

    • V4Real says:

      Why are we making excuses for Cross, is it because he is married to Amber Tamblyn. He doesn’t get a pass. That was racist as f_ck. And for a man of his age, 10 years is not a very long time ago. Can I believe that perhaps he’s changed, maybe. But let’s not pretend that because he is married to Amber that he’s some great guy. Every celeb, even Amber has things they don’t want made public.

      And if he truly has changed he shouldn’t apologize by saying I don’t remember or if I offended you. He should straight up say I’m sorry I hurt you, I was wrong. That’s not the person I am today(unless it really is).

    • Kitten says:

      I know literally nothing about this guy (had no idea he was married to AT) but when I was reading his statement I was reminded of when I confronted my father about teasing me about my weight when I was a chubby and awkward preteen. He was genuinely shocked and said he didn’t remember saying any of those terrible things to me.
      I believe him but it doesn’t change the fact that what he said to me during my formative years impacted my self-esteem greatly. Also, didn’t do much to help me with the eating disorder that I developed later in life….

      So yeah, he might genuinely not remember but that doesn’t give him a pass for making racist comments to a young woman who didn’t have the privilege of forgetting.

    • Margo S. says:

      I like him too. I believe that if he did say that, he was drunk and probably doesn’t remember. I also believe today, he would never dream of saying something like that. We can change. I know I sure as hell have.

  2. The Original Mia says:

    Never liked him and it boggles what Amber sees in him. I totally believe Charlyne. It does seem very in character for Cross.

  3. Mannori says:

    I completely agree with your take on Cross: he is an opportunist piece of shit and her comedy style basically is about offending and he will claim it as artistic freedom. Is not only that he said he doesn’t remembers. The most infuriating thing is that he says that Charlyne probably is “misremembering” the whole thing as well. And while I disagree with you about Amber Tamblyn (I think she’s been an opportunist as well at some level) I respect her courage for a number of things she did/tweeted about. But Cross should practice what his wife preaches: listen and believe when a woman denounces. Listen. And if you have a NON apology to issue, you might better just STFO.

    • Renee2 says:

      I too agree with your take about Amber being opportunistic. While it was good that she called out James Wood the reason Armie Hammer got into it with him was that Woods was being homophobic, and she totally ignored that and then wrote an op ed about the need to believe women when they speak about abuse. While I agreed with her position and believe her claims about Woods, I felt that she hijacked the discussion and totally made it about her, and that made me uncomfortable.

  4. lala says:

    yikes..that is not cool at all.

    let’s please not jump on Amber and somehow turns this around and blame her (I’m only saying this because blaming women for the behavior of men happens way too often)

  5. Ugh. What bothers me most about his comment is not that he said he didn’t remember, it was the fact he implied that SHE misremembered it. Gross.

    • Esmerelda says:

      Indeed, the old ‘I’m not saying she’s lying, but…’
      And there are better ways to answer, she even gave him the out of claiming to be different now and he just replied that no, he’d never been wrong – we accept that people are not perfect all the time, they just need to own their mistakes and try to be a bit kinder and respectful.

  6. Mrs. WelenMelon says:

    Obviously, Yi is telling the truth. This has been eating at her.

    I’m conflicted if she’s handling this the right way now. Should this be done via social media? Probably, since the goal is to get Cross to admit what he said, stop this behavior, and, hopefully, apologize.

    I would have tried with him privately but I am not Yi and I was not there.

    Cross was funny on “Arrested Development” but ugh, what a jackass he was to Yi. Ick.

    • HH says:

      I don’t think she was trying to get apology or get him to take responsibility—at least not as a primary goal. I think she was just telling her story of racist harassment as this seems to be a time many women are telling their truths (so to speak). Yes, she was calling him out, but my takeaway is that this was cathartic and that was the driving purpose.

      ETA – FYI/RE: telling their truths (so to speak). Not calling them liars, the “so to speak” portion was just to indicate that I was using a turn of phrase.

    • Mannori says:

      I think the element of “public denounce” is necessary and right this time. Is all as a result of women finally taking the courage to speak publicly about things that, as women, we’re supposed to handle privately, almost as if we have to make sure to not offend the offenders. Because of course that’s the element in which abuse, harassment, sexism and racism grows and operates.

  7. Renee2 says:

    This is the thing, I understand that being on drugs and alcohol can mess up your mind, I’ve been an ass and have said offensive things but Ive never said anything racist or anti-Semitic. I think that if that’s what is in your heart that is what comes out.

    But Charlyne never said that he was drunk and neither did he. I think that he was so dismissive of her that he couldn’t even remember the incident. And he was racist and classist!!! I believe her. And he couldn’t even issue an apology but instead did a form of gas lighting. F’ him. As for cross, you tried it b*tch.

  8. Barrett says:

    My thoughts as well. In the world of short Instagram and twitter bytes, I don’t think this is a good way to deal w the issue. Address w him directly first. We are losing sense of communication skills as people w social media.

    She could have told the story publicly w/o saying who it was and then discuss w him behind close doors.

    • CharlotteCharlotte says:

      Yes, but why should she have to tone police herself? A grown man felt no need to police himself when he launched in on a young woman in an unprovoked personal attack, so why does she have to be *better* than him, or respectful about how she goes about sharing her story? On her own twitter feed? She isn’t launching ad hominem attacks, like he did. She isn’t making racist comments, like he did. She’s sharing her moment of abuse. Like so many are.

    • Sophia's Side eye says:

      This type of thing is always being protected by silence. If people think it’s okay to act this way then they should prepare to be called out publicly. These days everyone has a platform. For too long only certain people were allowed to set the narrative. Maybe people should not act the way he did rather than expect her to be quiet.

  9. Dolkite says:

    I think you’re wrong about him being exactly the type of comic who would make racist joke. He’s from the South and his stand-up routine spent a great deal of time making fun of clueless rednecks and Republicans. His most famous characters on his show with Bob Odenkirk included a white trash loser who kept appearing on Cops and getting arrested and a mountain man who started his own one-man country.

  10. Talie says:

    I know people like Amber more than him, but I do think she made a major error going to bat for Tarantino. Meanwhile, he used her to get a message out and still has said nothing.

    • Kitten says:

      Yeah we’re going to be waiting a long-ass time because Tarantino isn’t gonna say shit.

      But yes ITA with you and I’m still slightly confounded as to why she stuck her neck out for him…

      • Ladidah says:

        She wrote on her twitter about being a patriarchy whisperer then on her IG that she never said he knew nothing, and made it sound like she was coaching QT to name names that perpetuate HW abuse, or…do something that would help more women, period.

        She also told ppl to STFU and trust her, and overall convos w her on twitter/IG were an awkard display of people fawning over and other women telling her it is not important how QT feels but his actions to help victims.

    • jc126 says:

      I don’t know what Amber T. said about Tarantino but I have to say that I’m shocked we haven’t heard something about him harassing people or mistreating them in some other way. That guy makes me uncomfortable just to watch. I have seen a few of his movies and even my (male) other half said suddenly, “Wow, Tarantino hates women, doesn’t he?”
      And he once SPAT on someone at a premiere, think it was Chris Connelly – not sure. I’ve seen the video clip.

  11. kate says:

    I cannot believe that the first comments are criticizing her, rather than him. Oh yeah, sure HE said something racist but SHE should have handled this differently. He is the one who should be adjusting his behaviour.

  12. Kealeen says:

    I like some of his work, but he’s super problematic. I believe her, and I also believe he honestly doesn’t remember, because he is (or was) prone to be the worst in social situations, especially when partying. The Obama White House said he was banned after he bragged in an interview about doing coke in the bathroom during an event he and Amber attended.

  13. Laura says:

    I only knew about David Cross in passing until I married my husband. He is a huge David Cross fan and has been for years. We even went to see him last year when he was on tour. I enjoyed the show & we rewatched it on Netflix. I am kind of shocked at the level of distrust in DC & I will look out for stories about him. My husband hates the type of humor that is at someone’s expense so I’d be surprised if he knew about DC’s reputation as well. I will have to ask him.

    I feel like his apology is sincere and I didn’t get the impression that he was dismissing her.

    • stinky says:

      im w/ you on this one. I think he’s a brilliant and sensitive comic & writer. I too was unaware of this ‘mean’ side that folks are referring to here. He seems WAY too cool to belittle someone’s ethnicity – good god! and I can tell you, people can and DO mis-remember things. I had a classmate named Alec in h.s. He was cute and I knew his name… but my best friend (and everyone else) always called him ‘Alex’. This bugged him. A lot. So much so that when we crossed paths decades later he came for me in a big way about how I always got his name wrong (and he was serious & ridiculous & wrong!) …. it pissed me off.

  14. Adrien says:

    He doesn’t remember because he thought he was just being silly not concerned if he had hurt someone. He probably does that to Asian people a lot and some of them thought the jokes were funny and harmless. Maybe he has learned his lessons. People change. I hope he admits his douchey past and apologize to Charlyn. I remember being confronted by an old schoolmate before and she told me I was mean to her. I don’t really recall the incident that made her cry. Or maybe it was just a minor thing for me and I wasn’t mindful of her feelings.

  15. NorthernLala says:

    His apology was not an apology. Right away, she’s treated as if she made it up. ‘I’m sorry if I offended’ drives me nuts. Take out the word ‘if’ – then it’s an actual apology!

  16. Radley says:

    Everybody’s getting receipts for Christmas. ‘Tis the season to get called out I guess.

  17. adastraperaspera says:

    This is a situation where he could have picked up the phone and called her directly to apologize, then afterwards issued a brief statement.

  18. Bobafelty says:

    His response is terrible. It’s the exact same excuses my sexual harasser used: “I don’t remember”, “we’re both misremembering”, etc. It pushes at least half of this back on the victim of his racist BS. If he wants to grow or has changed in the years since, he would take some responsibility instead of pushing back on her memory and how she chose to report it.

    And by saying she should have contacted him privately if it was such a big deal…no. It is not a minority person’s job to teach a grown white man how to not be racist. It’s not a woman’s job to teach grown men how to stop sexually harassing.

  19. smee says:

    David’s quote “I would never intentionally hurt someone like that.” WTF does that mean?!

  20. Lyka says:

    There once was a time when the “ching chongs” used to fly fast and loose in the faces of Asians. So why would David Cross remember this instance? It didn’t hurt him, it didn’t demoralize him, it hasn’t lingered with him for 10 YEARS. What an absurd reaction on his part to hashtag Roshomon and plead competing perspectives. Good on Charlyne for publicly shaming him.

  21. Skittlebrau says:

    Remember years ago when he ‘joked’ that he always makes Amber keep a vibrator in her purse in case she gets raped so at least she can get something out of it? Yeah, he lost he after that.

  22. Jayna says:

    Hey, at least, he reached out to her. It’s better than a very brief tweet from Ben Affleck to the woman for groping her, not a personal call.

    And men drinking heavily, yeah, I’ve had a couple friends who back over the years said very obnoxious, inappropriate sexist remarks to me. One comment was jaw-dropping, which actually was out of character, and the other, though not as bad, was highly inappropriate at a large table of people. And knowing them so well was the only reason it didn’t affect how I felt about them and easily brushed it off. And I doubt they would ever remember saying what they said the way they did.

    But someone just meeting someone for the first time and having condescending remarks made to them in the guise of humor, I would have no use for them. He might want to reflect on how he made her feel and take a hard look at himself.

  23. detritus says:

    The difference is that you know you might have crossed the line, even not meaning to. If someone approached you with that, you would be ashamed you hurt them before doubting the incident even happened.

    Cross denies that this is even a possibility for him, and his first reaction is to defend himself, not to understand.

  24. Cupcake says:

    A sincere apology would have gone a long way. Sigh.

  25. Zondie says:

    Apparently he didn’t even know her and he made fun of her clothing? Then followed up by making a joke of her ethnicity? That is a jerk right there!!!

  26. Radish says:

    Anyone who has read any of his writings will not be surprised by this and will believe it. I certainly do, and not remembering it is no excuse. I liked him as Tobias but remember reading a book he wrote or cowrote and I was so incredibly turned off by the constant veiled racism that I stopped after ten pages, which is almost unheard of for me. I completely believe her and I have disliked him as a person for a while because of the attitudes Charlyne describes. Douuuuuuche chiiiiiiilllllll, to quote Tobias, who is a treasure.

  27. Bridget says:

    I believe him when he says he doesn’t remember. Because he was probably coked up.

  28. Mumbles says:

    It is odd to me why some people think mocking Asian languages is okay. Remember a few years ago Rosie O’Donnell imitating a Chinese newscast by saying “Ching chong”?

    • Who ARE These People? says:

      This is true. Jokes about the Chinese and other peoples of Asia seem to be the last “safe” group to mock per people looking for some kind of racist outlet. And some seem to think that “joking” about different language or language group doesn’t mean anything. It’s like the people who call other kinds of first or last names “weird.” This is not innocuous and not acceptable. It’s just as hurtful as racism directed against any other people.

      • Sophia's Side eye says:

        Yep, I grew up with a lot of Asian Americans, and this is what they’ve told me and I’ve seen myself. Certain people do think it’s okay to talk to or about them with disrespect. Like they think that Asian people are the stereotypes they’re portrayed as on tv. Nope, wrong. I’m glad this dude is being called out, I believe her.

  29. Betsy says:

    I cannot stand David Cross. I think Arrested Development was the worse for his being in it and although I quote many of his lines, anyone could have played that part. And his show with Bob Odenkirk? Ick.

    I totally believe her that this happened. He seems like a real canoe.

  30. tealily says:

    I don’t know, this is a weird one. I DO think this sounds out of character for him. His alleged comments are egregious and inexcusable, but how could it be possible that she would misremember that? I highly doubt that. She seems clear in her recollection. As others have pointed out, perhaps he was high or drunk. I cannot imagine saying those things to someone if it wasn’t already something floating around under the surface.

  31. Bijou says:

    Lots of white people have said stupid shit like to me so many times in my life. They don’t consider it racist because I wasn’t a dark POC. These kinds of white people are incredibly stupid and I take their racist bullshit with a grain of salt. They get all surprised when I call them out for it upon losing all respect for them.

    Good on her for calling him out.

  32. lucy2 says:

    I love Tobias/Arrested Development, but DC has always struck me as a bit of an ass.
    I do know he had serious substance abuse issues, so I think him not remembering it highly possible. I fully believe he said it, it’s clearly been eating away at Charlyne for a decade – you remember when people say stuff that hurts you like that. I know I do.
    I hope he makes a sincere apology to her, whether he remembers it or not, and I hope she feels some closure.

  33. LizLemonGotMarried says:

    1) He sounds like a racist asshole. I sincerely hope Amber Tamblyn has been a positive influence on him, and that he’s grown since this comment. As I’ve written before, my husband used to have some issues with bigotry when he was MUCH younger that he is since horrified by, but there’s quite a big difference between a young teen and a 30+ year old man.
    2) I couldn’t figure out why I knew her face. She was the page that Kenneth The Page had a thing with when they were working at the golf course. Is there any actor in HW that didn’t show up on 30 Rock at some point?

  34. Penelope says:

    Never could stand DC–his “comedy” is unfunny and imo he’s always come off as a huge douche.

    And his “apology” suggesting she could be remembering incorrectly is no apology at all.

  35. Jamie42 says:

    What a disgraceful remark to make to a young woman. And there isn’t much to “misremember” about the comment, either.
    As for Amber, who has been calling people out–what’s her comment?

  36. Mango Salsa says:

    I believe Charlyne’s account. Why would she make it up? It’s not good PR for her anyway. I’m Asian Australian and seemingly “casual” or “humorous” racist comments like these always make my blood boil. When I was little I had someone, a primary school classmate, suddenly say to me, “You all look the same.” (!!!) As an adult I’m super sensitive to this kind of stuff and will call it out if I see it, even if it makes me seem like I don’t have a “sense of humour.” I don’t know if any US states or US federal laws have an equivalent provision, but under Australian law, it’s literally illegal to offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate someone on the basis on their race (Section 18C Racial Discrimination Act) in a public place. You can be fined or be ordered to apologise, pay compensation, etc., in theory. I always keep this section in mind in case someone makes any racist remarks in my presence, whether directed against me or not. I’ll threaten to report them to the human rights commissioner.

  37. Lori says:

    He isnt saying he doesnt remember. He cleary days he doesnt remember it happening the way she remembers it.

    I like them both, I hope its a misunderstanding.