Web Exclusive: Interview with Michael Ian Black

Even crack journalists like New Times’ own Ashley Harrell harbor secret crushes. Her decade-long infatuation with Michael Ian Black started back in the ´90s when he first crossed her television’s screen in the sketch comedy masterpiece The State; It has remained tucked away in her heart’s locket well into adulthood. So when word got out that MIB is heading to BPB, we sent her on a mission: Interview and flirt shamelessly with this stand-up dude, and document the whole blush-inducing ordeal in a Q&A for you loyal NT readers.

Michael Ian Black– comedian, writer, actor, and Sierra Mist spokeshottie – is touring the country doing stand-up with fellow The State cast member, Michael Showalter. It’s tough going, what with Showalter demanding they stop for cigarettes, Starbucks, and taking a dump every half hour. And then there’s the debilitating all-night poker playing. But the two alternative comedy heroes deserve a break. They’ve both released new stand-up albums and Black recently co-wrote the movie Run, Fatboy, Run, a comedy directed by David Schwimmer premiering in March. Showalter and Black are soon reuniting with the other nine cast members of The State to make a movie for Comedy Central, which Black admits he’s freaking out about. He also discloses his love of Taco Bell, his secret dreams of becoming an ice cream entrepreneur, and his fondness for tympani.

NT: New Times, this is Ashley.

MIB: Hi Ashley, It’s Michael Ian black calling.

NT: Oh, you’re the guy from those Sierra Mist commercials, right?

MIB: That’s right. That’s right. I understand I’m supposed to talk to you.

NT: Okay. I want to tell you I’ve been a huge fan of yours since seventh grade.

MIB: So you were making a little joke about Sierra Mist.

NT:Yeah, yeah, was it funny?

MIB: Well, no, because I thought you were serious.

NT: No!

MIB: Well yeah.

NT: Oh no. That’s horrible. This is getting off to a terrible start.

MIB: Well, so many people say to that me. And then I say, “yes I am.”

NT: So how are you feeling today?

MIB: I’m a little sleepy. Well I was out last night playing poker with my friend Michael Showalter.

NT: You do a lot of that, huh?

MIB: Yeah. I do. (sighs). I really do.

NT: So this is the perfect time for an interview?

MIB: I’ve been up for a few hours now because I had to do some radio. But man. I’m fading. I’m fading, Ashley.

NT: Oh, I’m sorry to hear that.

MIB: Well, it’s not your fault.

NT: Well, can you step it up?

MIB: (Laughs). I will try.

NT: Okay. I appreciate that. Where are you right now?

MIB: I’m in San Francisco. You know that town right? Earthquakes.

NT: Pretty buildings.

MIB: Lots of pretty buildings…all waiting to collapse.

NT: So I got your new album in the mail, “I am a Wonderful Man.” Then I noticed that your McSweeny’s column is called “I am a famous celebrity.” I’m wondering what’s up with the self promotion.

MIB: It’s all about branding these days. All about creating a marketable brand and then selling the shit out of it. That’s what I’m doing. I figure if I keep saying I’m a celebrity than eventually it will be true….So far it hasn’t worked.

NT: So you seem to have a character that you play on stage. This kind of narcissistic metrosexual that’s totally lacking in self awareness. I’m wondering how you developed this persona.

MIB: Jeez. Is it a persona? I’m a little concerned now about who I am. A self-aggrandizing metrosexual. Oh dear. Who has no self-awareness.

NT: It’s very funny…

MIB: It’s meant to be more self deprecating than anything else. I say for example, I have the body of a 12 year old girl. That my nickname was faggot. These kind of things. They’re intended to be self-deprecating. Even the self-aggrandizing is supposed to be laced with self-deprecation. In that respect there’s tremendous self-awareness. One might even say self loathing. If one were inclined to say that.

NT: I’ve noticed that you take a lot of cracks on your family life. Do you think that’s psychologically damaging to them?

MIB: Only because I play it at very loud volumes in the house. I play tracks on the CD at very loud volume in the house and I have my kids listen to that and I say, “do you hear that?” “Do you hear that?” “Do you hear what you’re doing to daddy?”

NT: What’s it like touring with Michael Showalter?

MIB: It’s great because he’s one of my best friends. But it’s horrible because he’s an eccentric freak.

NT: Can you say more about that?

MIB: It’s a lot of stopping every 25 to 30 minutes for whatever his particular needs are at that moment. Be they Starbucks. Be they cigarettes. Be they, taking a dump. Be they, whatever they may be. Maybe he left his cell phone at the place where he took the dump, kinda thing.

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