Hang out with comedian Michael Ian Black


You may know Michael Ian Black from the short snippets of his sharp, witty comments on VH1 series such as “I Love The 90s.” Since he has gained recognition from those shows, Black has started touring nationwide as a stand-up comic. Black will be performing at The Fillmore in Irving Plaza in New York City on Saturday, Dec. 1. The Mirror got a chance to catch up with him before his show.

The Mirror: Tell me about your current stand-up tour.

Michael Ian Black: My friend Michael Showalter and I have been touring all over the country, and we’re gonna wrap up touring with a big show at The Fillmore in Irving Plaza at New York. Being on VH1 was sort of the impetus for me to do stand-up because once I was on there, colleges were calling and asking me if I wanted to do shows, and I didn’t really have any material. I wanted to do the shows because they were paying a lot of money, so I started writing.

TM: How long have you been doing standup?

MIB: Two years, but I’ve been busy with other comedic ventures.

TM: How did you become a cast member on VH1 shows like “I Love The 80s” and “I Love The 90s.” ?

MIB: They called and said, “Would you like to be a part of this?” and I said sure. That’s pretty much the way it went down.

TM: How does that process work?

MIB: They just ask me questions and I answer. Sort of like an oral test.

TM: What do you have to say about the failed show “Stella” that had one season on Comedy Central in 2004?

MIB: Well, it wasn’t successful in the way that nobody watched it. No one watched it, and, therefore, it was cancelled. I couldn’t say it discouraged me because I thought the work was really good.

TM: How young were you when you realized you wanted to do comedy?

MIB: I started doing sketch comedy when I as seventeen and I’ve pretty much been doing nothing but that since.

TM: Where do you get inspiration for your standup material?

MIB: Anything that strikes my fancy on a given day. Whatever I’m thinking about, whatever I find interesting, anything I have an opinion about.

TM: What are your favorite projects?

MIB: It all really depends. It’s all really fun and it just is like whatever I’m doing at the moment is what I want to be doing so you know, at the moment, doing standup is really great and really fun.

It’s really just about getting involved in projects you have passion for, which is often easier said than done, because, you know, I still have bills to pay and a mortgage and kids to feed. Once you commit to something, hopefully that’s the thing that you want to be doing.

TM: What’s the best reaction you’ve ever gotten at a show?

MIB: Generally, the best reaction is when they’re laughing. Anytime they are angry or very, very quiet, that’s a bad reaction.

TM: How would you describe your humor to someone who doesn’t know you?

MIB: I would call it the funny kind of humor.

TM: Could you expand on that?

MIB: Sure. The funny kind that makes you laugh.

TM: How was it to be on “Celebrity Poker Showdown” ?

MIB: Well, you play poker against celebrities for charity, so it’s great fun, and they fly you down and put you up and you get to meet people and play poker; so if you’re like me – who has a gambling problem – it’s a tremendous way to spend some time.

TM: What comedians inspire you?

MIB: Well, I was always inspired by Steve Martin, George Carlin, and Richard Pryor…Eddie Murphy. And the recently, Jim Gaffigan, Louis CK.

TM: What is the book you are writing about?

MIB: It’s a collection of humor writings of mine, like David Sedaris but filthier. There’s a piece in the book that says, “Hey David Sedaris, why don’t you just go ahead and suck it?”

TM: Who is the most inspiring person you’ve met since becoming famous?

MIB: Well, people who I get starstruck by are professional poker players.

TM: What about people outside poker?

MIB: Nobody’s particularly interesting to me that’s not in poker. I know actors. Actors are whatever. Poker players are gods.

TM: What do you think about the writers strike?

MIB: I’m all in favor of it.

TM: Are you striking?

MIB: I’m not that much for it. Yeah … I’m in favor of it, but I’m not going to do anything about it. It’s not like I’m going to get off my ass and walk around in a circle.

TM: Do you feel fame has changed you?

MIB: You’re going to think I’m being disingenuous, but I’m really not famous. I’m not famous in the way that famous people are famous. Some people know who I am, but it doesn’t intrude on my life in any way. I can still go to the grocery store and buy avocados and nobody looks at me twice, unless I’m buying a lot of avocados, like case after case of avocados, in which case it’s not the fame thing, it’s the amount of avocados that I’m buying that they are worried about. They’re thinking why is this guy buying so many avocados; the fame part doesn’t even enter the equation.

TM: Do you like avocados?

MIB: No. This is just a hypothetical situation.

TM: Then, what is your favorite food?

MIB: It’s a tough question. Last night I was thinking if I could only eat one food for the rest of my life, it might be ice cream.

TM: Well, what if you were in the arctic?

MIB: Eat hot ice cream. Well, comparatively speaking, the ice cream would probably taste warm. That would be like eating oatmeal, because it would be so much warmer than everything else. And you didn’t ask the question, what would be your favorite food to eat in the arctic? If it was in the arctic, then it would be pizza or Taco Bell.

Click for Black’s Sierra Mist Commercial

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