Black on Black

Michael Ian Black talks Money, Meghan McCain, the Minnesota State Fair and all things Michael Ian Black.

Martina Marosi

 

WHAT: Michael Ian Black

WHERE: Varsity Theater, 1308 SE Fourth St.

WHEN: Nov. 2, 7p.m. doors open / 8 p.m. show starts

COST: $20

Michael Ian Black is not, as the title of his new comedy album âÄúVery FamousâÄù may advertise, very famous.

âÄúIf it were sincere,âÄù Black reveals, âÄúit would have been âÄòMarginally Famous.âÄô I am Olympic discus thrower-level famous,âÄù Black said.

After a scheduling conflict caused the comedian to postpone his Sept. 15 standup show, Black is packing his bags and giving the Twin Cities another go.

 âÄúStrangers don’t find me funny,âÄù he says in a bit from the second track on his album, which he titled as such. If people he meets on the street are strangers, he considers his audience a group of âÄúfriends and relativesâÄù who are âÄúshrinking by the day.âÄù However, a stranger could very well be that audience member he hasn’t made laugh yet.

Black’s standup comedy is just one avenue his multifaceted career has taken. Most children of the programmed nostalgia generation may remember him as a talking head on VH1’s âÄúI love the [insert decade]âÄú series. But the buck doesn’t stop there.

Black co-created âÄúThe State,âÄù was one-third of Comedy CentralâÄôs âÄúStella,âÄù played the short-short-wearing camp counselor in âÄúWet Hot American Summer,âÄù co-wrote a feature film with Simon Pegg, has written childrenâÄôs books and has first billing on a podcast with former âÄúEdâÄù co-star Tom Cavanagh titled âÄúMike and Tom Eat Snacks.âÄù

âÄúI just do things that are either: a.) interesting to me creatively or b.) pay a lot of money,âÄù Black said.

This expansive oeuvre can appear as wild clamor for airtime, but Black is also at work on more obscure projects, like a collaboration with Meghan McCain for a book with the working title, âÄúAmerica, You Sexy Bitch.âÄù

âÄúIt’s a coast-to-coast road trip that she and I took in July of this year where we engage with, flirt with and make love to America,âÄù Black said. âÄúShe’s a Republican, I’m a Democrat. We both love America in two different ways, in two different holes, so to speak.âÄù

While Black does his own whistle-stop standup comedy tour, titled âÄúBlack is White,âÄù he says Minneapolis is just another station on the tracks.

That shouldn’t induce some Midwestern inferiority complex for the neurotic Minneapolitan, however. Quite the contrary. âÄúThere are plenty of good cities in America, and you are one them,âÄù Black said. âÄúThe only difference is you have more Garrison Keillor than everybody else.âÄù

Black did have the opportunity to see the State Fair, and besides finding that the deep fried Twinkies had too much dough and âÄúnot enough twink,âÄù he has a bone to pick with the animal barns.

âÄúThey’ve got sheep dressed up there like Klansmen âĦ I thought it was really insensitive. I don’t know who was doing that, whether it was the farmers or the sheep themselves, but I thought, âÄòThis is just not appropriate,âÄôâÄù Black said.

The facetiously obtuse barb exemplifies Black’s brand of humor on âÄúVery Famous,âÄù which is like a dodecahedron with one side endearing, another vulgar, one side fed up with reality, another offering sarcastic absurdities.

Black’s jokes âÄî though primarily filtered through his relatively atonal delivery that ranges from his enunciated recantations of a story to a hung over, nasally drawl âÄî are complemented by facial expressions and physical gestures that get lost in the audio recording of the album.

âÄúI was conscious âĦ that I do make dumb faces and there are physical gags in there, but there’s not much I can do âĦ so I feel kind of bad about that, but most people illegally download albums anyway so it’s not like they’re not getting their money’s worth,âÄù Black said.

Black may not be very famous, or even, for some people, very funny. Most likely, he doesn’t care. If Black’s rolling list of professional endeavors is any indication, he’ll keep doing what he wants to do, or at least cash a fat check trying.