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Stand Up, Michael Ian Black!

Michael Ian Black

Helium Comedy Club

March 13 - 15 (five shows). Age 18+. Tickets $20 - $25.

The TV and film star comes to Helium for five shows this weekend

Michael Ian Black has expanded his brand of comedy to almost every venue imaginable since his start on MTV’s The State in the 1990s. Since then, he’s starred in several TV series, including Ed and Stella, and the cult classic film Wet Hot American Summer. He has also appeared on Celebrity Poker Showdown and VH1’s I Love the… series, written several books, co-hosted two podcasts, and currently co-hosts the National Geographic Channel’s Duck Quacks Don’t Echo.

Black’s first standup special, Michael Ian Black: Very Famous, aired on Comedy Central in 2011. Now he’s back on the road, honing new material for his act. He’ll be performing five shows at Helium Comedy Club, March 13-15.

AV: People mostly know you from sketch comedy. How is the writing process different for standup comedy than it is writing with a troupe?

MIB: Well, in some ways it’s a lot harder because it’s just you and it’s all about expressing ideas verbally as opposed to through action or dialogue, or physically. It requires a difference in skills and it requires me to develop those skills, which didn’t come naturally to me.

AV: Do you ever bounce any ideas off of any former cast members from The State or is it pretty much just you on paper?

MIB: It’s pretty much just me. The best way to develop standup is to bounce ideas off of the audience as opposed to another comedian. So I do that, but no, not really off other people who aren’t drinking alcohol.

AV: You’re current co-hosting a show called Duck Quacks Don’t Echo—kind of a Mythbusters with a studio audience. How’s that going so far?

MIB: It’s going great. We shot 13 or 14 episodes and they’re airing right now and it’s great. It’s a science show with comedy—or comedy show with science, I’m not sure which—but it’s me, Tom Papa, and a comedian named Seth Herzog, and we just hang out and do experiments and try to make each other laugh. It’s good.

AV: What’s the process like for choosing experiments? How do you choose what facts you want to prove to each other?

MIB: What’s fantastic is I don’t have to do any of that. There’s a team of researchers that come up with the facts and the information and the experiments, and then they entrust us to carry it through.

AV: I made your hovercraft out of household supplies from the first episode and injured myself pretty badly. I’ll get legal info after the interview.

MIB: Really?

AV: No.

MIB: [Laughs.]

AV: I read that you’ve been cast on a new sitcom for CBS starring Jim Gaffigan?

MIB: Yeah, well it’s just a pilot right now. We just shot it, so we’ll see whether it becomes a series or not. Hopefully.

AV: As well as writing a book of essays you’re also a children’s book author. The reviews of your children’s books on Amazon seem to agree that most celebrity children’s authors produce so-so work and make most of the money with their name, but that you seem to write children’s books quite well.

MIB: Well, that’s nice to hear. But make to mistake—I also want to make money. Because I’m a whore. But yeah, I write them and do my best with them, and I think unlike maybe other celebrity children’s book authors I’m not trying to do anything. I’m not trying to make the world a better place, I’m not trying to impart a message of inclusion. All I’m trying to do is make funny children’s books.

AV: Do you take the same approach with standup?

MIB: Yeah. I’m certainly not trying to change the world.

AV: Do you have any other projects coming up? I know you’re doing a podcast with Michael Showalter…

MIB: Haven’t I done enough for you? How much more of myself could I possibly give?

AV: Well, if you could pitch Stella to another network, you’d be doing me a personal favor.

MIB: [Laughs.] We just did. They said no!

AV: Who did you pitch it to?

MIB: Adult Swim.

AV: They said no?!

MIB: We wanted to do a Stella special with them, but they said no.

AV: I’ll be writing them a letter.

MIB: Please do. Please write them a very strongly worded letter.

AV: Can do. Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to me.

MIB: My pleasure.

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