Web Exclusive: Interview with Michael Ian Black

Even crack journalists like New Timesí own Ashley Harrell harbor secret crushes. Her decade-long infatuation with Michael Ian Black started back in the ī90s when he first crossed her televisionís screen in the sketch comedy masterpiece The State; It has remained tucked away in her heartís 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 BlackĖ comedian, writer, actor, and Sierra Mist spokeshottie Ė is touring the country doing stand-up with fellow The State cast member, Michael Showalter. Itís tough going, what with Showalter demanding they stop for cigarettes, Starbucks, and taking a dump every half hour. And then thereís the debilitating all-night poker playing. But the two alternative comedy heroes deserve a break. Theyíve 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 heís 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, Itís Michael Ian black calling.

NT: Oh, youíre the guy from those Sierra Mist commercials, right?

MIB: Thatís right. Thatís right. I understand Iím supposed to talk to you.

NT: Okay. I want to tell you Iíve 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. Thatís horrible. This is getting off to a terrible start.

MIB: Well, so many people say to that me. And then I say, ďyes I am.Ē

NT: So how are you feeling today?

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

NT: Oh, Iím sorry to hear that.

MIB: Well, itís 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: Iím in San Francisco. You know that town right? Earthquakes.

NT: Pretty buildings.

MIB: Lots of pretty buildingsÖall waiting to collapse.

NT: So I got your new album in the mail, ďI am a Wonderful Man.Ē Then I noticed that your McSweenyís column is called ďI am a famous celebrity.Ē Iím wondering whatís up with the self promotion.

MIB: Itís all about branding these days. All about creating a marketable brand and then selling the shit out of it. Thatís what Iím doing. I figure if I keep saying Iím a celebrity than eventually it will be trueÖ.So far it hasnít worked.

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

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

NT: Itís very funnyÖ

MIB: Itís 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. Theyíre intended to be self-deprecating. Even the self-aggrandizing is supposed to be laced with self-deprecation. In that respect thereís tremendous self-awareness. One might even say self loathing. If one were inclined to say that.

NT: Iíve noticed that you take a lot of cracks on your family life. Do you think thatís 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, ďdo you hear that?Ē ďDo you hear that?Ē ďDo you hear what youíre doing to daddy?Ē

NT: Whatís it like touring with Michael Showalter?

MIB: Itís great because heís one of my best friends. But itís horrible because heís an eccentric freak.

NT: Can you say more about that?

MIB: Itís 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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