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November 2008

November 28, 2008

If You Don't Want To Get Trampled To Death At Wal-Mart This Holiday Season

Pamplona has the Running of the Bulls, in which hordes of frothy Spaniards attempt to avoid getting trampled by pissed-off boy cows. America has our own equivalent – Black Friday, in which hordes of frothy shoppers run through Wal-Mart aisles while attempting to avoid getting trampled by other shoppers. Sadly, tragedy often accompanies both traditions. Today, a Wal-Mart employee was run over like a squirrel by people trying to save fifteen percent off a Tickle Me Elmo doll.

Times are tough, and saving a little money is certainly high on most people’s Christmas wish list. But let’s try to preserve a little sanity. There’s no need to wake up at four thirty in the morning and drive to whatever crap store you live near. Instead, let me offer you a couple suggestions about a few gifts you can buy for loved ones that are inexpensive, lots of fun, and will never go out of style. And best of all, you won’t have to leave your house to purchase any of them!

51PVvF7olDL._SL500_AA240_ • For the “reader” in your family, how about a copy of Michael Ian Black’s hilarious collection of comic essays entitled, “My Custom Van (and 50 Other Mind-Blowing Essays That Will Blow Your Mind All Over Your Face).” This award-winning (it didn’t win any awards) book will tickle your funny bone, warm your heart, and make you think (it will neither warm your heart nor make you think). Available from Amazon for $16.29. A bargain!

51s48vza54L._SL500_AA240_ • Maybe you’ve got a music fan on your list. How about Michael Ian Black’s award-winning (it didn’t win any awards) comedy album, “I am a Wonderful Man?” With this terrific listening experience, Black proves that he can do it all: talk, stand, up. It’s worth the cost for the naked centerfold alone!!! Available from Amazon for $12.98. Cheap!

51IMl60gcvL._SL500_AA240_ • Little ones will enjoy Michael Ian Black’s new children’s book, “Chicken Cheeks.” This amusing compendium of animal butts is sure to keep the wild animals in your house howling. Even better, the “old folks” just might like it, too! There’s simply no better stocking stuffer for the young ones than this award-winning (it didn’t win any awards) easy reader. Available from Amazon for $10.87. Yay!

51XVZCXPWHL._SL500_AA240_ • TV fans will want to check out Comedy Central’s much-loved television series “Stella” on DVD. Starring Michael Ian Black, this brilliantly funny and inventive award-winning (it didn’t win any awards) show wowed critics and the public alike when it premiered. Although the series ended after one season because nobody watched it, you can treasure all ten episodes for years to come. The DVD also features commentary by the show’s stars, Michael Ian Black and his friends, and a documentary about the comic trio. Available on Amazon for $15.99. Wow!

61lEdAqKhEL._SL500_AA280_ • Calling all foodies! The Presto FlipSide Belgian Waffle Maker will delight fans of fluffy breakfast goodness. Easy to use, easy to clean, the award-winning (it won the Nobel Peace Prize) FlipSide makes perfect golden waffles every time, and its 180 degree flip design helps evenly coat the batter on upper and lower plates. A great gift for a gourmet. Available on Amazon for $39.98. Yum!

51KCeyZGlyL._SL500_AA240_ • Avid runners and couch potatoes alike will enjoy the heartwarming “Run, Fat Boy, Run.” Written by Michael Ian Black, this laugh out loud comedy tells the redemptive tale of a sad sack security guard attempting to win back the woman he left at the altar. Starring some British guy and directed by somebody else, this award-winning (it didn’t win any awards) crowd pleaser will brighten anybody’s Christmas. Available from Amazon for $11.99. ($23.99 on Blu-Ray) Cheers!

So there you go. I’ve just done all your holiday shopping for you. Why? Because I love you. And because I believe that the holidays are a time to spend with friends and family, not running from store to store, trampling people. And the less time you have to spend shopping, the more time you can sit at home and drink. That’s what my wife does.  

November 26, 2008

Stella Tour Kicks Off This Sunday in Philly

So we are only four days away from starting our Winter ’08 Stella tour, which is very exciting although I think it’s a fair question to ask whether or not we will be ready. As it is, the script is written, suits are pressed, flights reserved, hotels booked, poker rooms scouted, pubes trimmed. But most of the material is brand new and so there will probably be a substantial learning curve with it as we head out. There is also a fair chance that during one of the early shows we will be on stage and have no idea what comes next. That could be terrible or terrific. The thing about Stella shows is that, when they are good, they appear improvisational, as if everything you are seeing we are making up on the spot. When Stella shows are great, it’s because we really are making up lots of stuff, and then combining it with the existing material so that the show you are seeing is unique. Doing that, however, requires either a certain ease with the material or a complete lack of ease with it. Seeing us flail around can be a lot of fun, although from a performer’s point of view, I would rather be in control than out of it. It’s the same as watching NASCAR: yes, it’s pleasurable to watch great drivers race each other but it’s equally, or possibly more, pleasurable to see them crash. You can expect a fair amount of crashes from us starting this Sunday.


(Pictured: Michael Ian Black, Michael Showalter, and David Wain this Sunday in Philadelphia)

Buy Tickets: PHILADELPHIA - Keswick Theater w/ Eugene Mirman

November 25, 2008


Thanksgiving-dinner I’ve said it before and I will say it again: Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. It’s the only holiday we’ve got left that doesn’t involve wrapping paper, greeting cards, novelty songs, or heavily discounted automobiles. And even though Wal-Mart opens at five in the morning the day after Thanksgiving to lure desperate Christmas shoppers into its store with the promise of ninety-nine cent plasma televisions, Thanksgiving itself somehow retains its traditional low-key charm. It’s a holiday where the only thing you give is thanks and the only thing you get is the shits.

It’s a great holiday.

Americans have other feast days, of course: The Fourth of July, Super Bowl Sunday, every other day of the year. But Thanksgiving is different. For one thing, the food is better. Because it’s the kind of meal that has to be thought out beforehand. Even if you make the same thing every year, as most people do, it still requires a lot of effort and preparation. That act alone, the act of spending the day with friends and family creating a communal meal, makes Thanksgiving a great holiday. Every other holiday revolves around some other frivolous activity. On Christmas it’s opening presents. On the Fourth of July, it’s shooting Roman candles at the dog. But Thanksgiving is singular in its focus.

Personally, I am a Thanksgiving traditionalist. There are those who insist on getting creative with their Thanksgiving dinners, but I know from personal experience there are few things in life more upsetting than sitting down to Thanksgiving dinner after a brisk game of touch football on the lawn only to discover a heaping plate of fresh roasted squab. Or venison. Or grouse. Or anything that isn’t a fucking turkey. I am all for culinary excursions for three hundred and sixty four days out of the year. Not on Thanksgiving. On that Thursday I want what everybody wants: turkey, gravy, potatoes (traditional mashed or sweet), some kind of stuffing, a gloppy, disgusting green bean casserole, and endless amounts of free-flowing Dr. Pepper. (I recognize that Dr. Pepper isn’t necessarily a tradition in other people’s households, and I admit it’s not one in mine either, but I like Dr. Pepper a lot and I see no reason why I shouldn’t have as much of it as I like on Thanksgiving.)

Continue reading "Thanksgiving" »

A Great Write-Up In Advance Of Stella's Philly Show

Three Really Funny Dudes at the Keswick Theater

By John Steele

Updated 10:27 AM EST, Tue, Nov 25, 2008



Throughout the history, great comedic troupes have either come in pairs (Abbot and Costello, Laurel and Hardy, Spade and Farley) or in larger groups, but Wain, Showalter and Black prove easily, prove that three is funny.

All accomplished comedians in their own right, Showalter, Black and Wain combined in 1997 to form "Stella," a comedy troupe that became a mainstay in New York's Greenwich Village. In 2005, the show premiered on Comedy Central. Now, "Stella" is back on stage as their show was originally intended and the trio is bringing the funny this Sunday, November 30, to the Keswick Theater.

After meeting at NYU in 1988, the three friends started the famous comedy troupe "The State." "The State" quickly became a national phenomenon, drawing tours, lofty critical acclaim and an adoring fan base. The sketch troupe became a television show for MTV and is, to this day, considered one of the best things ever to come out of the network.

In 2001, Showalter and Wain released their collaborative film, "Wet Hot American Summer," a cult classic about the last day of summer camp in 1981. The film stars Showalter, Black and Wain along with Janeane Garofalo, David Hyde Pierce, Molly Shannon, Paul Rudd, Amy Poehler, Elizabeth Banks, and many others.

Michael Ian Black has also had his forays into the film world, as a writer/director of the film "Wedding Daze" and the writer on "Run Fatboy Run." He now has a book of essays called "My Custom Van," released earlier this year.

Michael Showalter has a new comedy CD entitled, "Sandwiches and Cats" that is on shelves now and David Wain just finished up "Role Models," a film he co-wrote and directed with Paul Rudd, Shawn William Scott and McLovin (Christopher Mintz-Plasse).

Like many great teams, there is something magical and exciting when these guys reunite. After all, with three great comedic minds on stage at once, you will forget about Laurel and Hardy. You will forget about Abbot and Costello. You will be too busy laughing to remember that this is unconventional, random, absurdist humor. All you will remember are the laughs.

November 24, 2008

Here I Am in a Chicken Suit

Here are a couple of bad ass photos of me in a chicken suit promoting my new book, “Chicken Cheeks.” Yes, it is a children’s book. Yes, it is about animal butts. In case you are wondering, the page the book is opened to in the second photo is captioned, “Moose Caboose.”

I feel very, very good about how I look.



November 23, 2008

My Relaxing Sunday With David Wain & Family

David Wain and his family came home with me last night after our super-secret warm-up Stella show at Brooklyn’s Union Hall. It was great to see them all and their little boy is adorable, despite the fact that he looks exactly like David Wain. Some would undoubtedly say that David is adorable, and there are times when he certainly is, but adorable isn’t the first word I think of when I think of my dear friend David. The first word I think of is crusty.


                (David Wain  - Crusty)

Certain people just carry with them a layer of crust, the accumulated grime of take-out food, unwashed laundry, and skin that has been exfoliated at inopportune times. This is not to say such people are dirty. They are not (necessarily). They aren’t (always) like the Peanuts character Pigpen, surrounded by an aura of filth. Instead, this kind of crust is an invisible but tangible derma, a second skin protecting the clean, pink underskin from the world’s brutalities. Perhaps certain people are just too sensitive to interact with the world in such a direct and raw way. Perhaps these people simply need an additional, protective layer of crust to keep them safe, the same way a hermit crab cannot survive without its shell. Nobody says that hermit crabs are gross; so why do we say this about David? Hate, that’s why.                              

Continue reading "My Relaxing Sunday With David Wain & Family " »

November 22, 2008

Some New Stella Dates!

We added a couple more dates to enjoy Stella: Ann Arbor and Minneapolis, for example. Here's the thing. This is probably the last time Stella ever tours together so if you want to see us together, this is probably your best and last shot. Go for it.

Nov 30: PHILADELPHIA - Keswick Theater
Dec 2: WASHINGTON DC - Sixth & I Historic Synagogue
Dec 4: MINNEAPOLIS - First Avenue (tickets not yet on sale)
Dec 5: CHICAGO - The Vic
*NEW* Dec 6: ANN ARBOR - The Blind Pig
Dec 7: CLEVELAND - House of Blues
Dec 9: NEW YORK - Nokia Theater
Dec 10: NEW YORK - Nokia Theater
Dec 11: BOSTON - Wilbur Theater
Dec 12: SAN FRANCISCO - UC Berkeley
Dec 13: LOS ANGELES - Orpheum Theatre

November 21, 2008

Who's Marcus?

Home from my many and sundry travels. Yesterday I was in Atlanta for the Book Festival of the MJCC. MJCC stands for Marcus Jewish Community Center. Who’s Marcus? I know.

My evening at the festival was fun. I was on a “panel” with two other comedic authors – Brian Frazer (Hyper-Chondriac) and Stephanie Klein (Moose). The event was moderated by Hollis Gillespie, an Atlanta based author whose written a bunch of books. The reason I put panel in quotes was because there wasn’t really a panel the way I think of panels: that is, there was no freewheeling Q&A/discussion about a chosen topic. Instead we each stood at a lectern for twelve minutes, made funny, then Hollis opened it up for questions.

A note about Hollis: when I asked her to autograph her book to me, she wrote, “I heard you have a huge dick.” I suspect this was in response to reading over my shoulder when I inscribed a book to a girl who asked me to write something filthy. I wrote, “I want to cum all over your tummy.” I don’t know that Hollis heard the girl ask me to write something like that and instead assumed that that’s just what I write on people’s books. I don’t. I usually write, “I want to spoog on your tummy.” Totally different.

Continue reading "Who's Marcus?" »

November 20, 2008

The UP

I’ve been very busy the last several days, and am writing this now at 6:48 am in Marquette, Michigan. If you’ve never been to Marquette, I’ll give you an idea of what it’s like. As we were driving in from the airport, I asked the kid who was driving me if we were in Marquette proper. He said, “Have we passed the trailer park yet?” That’s what Marquette is like.

An observation: I have found that the worse a place is, the prouder people are to be from it, which I think explains Texans.

Not that Marquette isn’t a nice town. It’s terrific. They’ve got an A&W, a Burger King, AND a KFC. And also a store that sells nothing but bingo supplies. Now I don’t play a lot of bingo (at least not as much as I should), but my understanding is that there are really only a couple of supplies needed: a bunch of numbered and lettered balls, a basket from which to withdraw them, and a lot of pre-printed cards. I suppose you could throw in various bingo knickknacks, like those ink stampers people use to mark their cards and maybe “I Love Bingo” keychains. After that, though, I’m kind of hard-pressed to think what you put in your bingo supply store. It just doesn’t seem like the kind of concept that screams, “Successful retail venture!” But as I said, maybe I’m just not as familiar with that world as I should be.

The reason I was in Marquette was because the good people at Northern Michigan University hired me to come speak to the students. It’s the kind of thing I do a fair amount of and enjo. College crowds are warm, receptive, and easy. Which is good if you make a lot of dick jokes, as I do. When I asked the crowd if they liked going to school in Marquette, the cheers were pretty unanimous. I asked why - not in a mean way, incidentally - I just wanted to know. One fellow said he likes “the outdoors.” I didn’t have the heart to explain to him that you can go outside in other places besides Marquette. I’ve traveled extensively, and I have found that pretty much everyplace I’ve ever been has an indoors and an outdoors. One guy mentioned that he liked going to Marquette because of “the drinking.” Again, I didn’t want to explain to him that they’ve got that in other places, too. One thing that they don’t have other places, however, is the world’s largest wooden dome. Yes, apparently they have the world’s largest wooden dome right there in Marquette, appropriately titled “The Superior Dome.” It’s where the football team plays, and it’s a source of enormous pride for the folks in Marquette. When I think large wooden structure crammed with people, I think “fire trap,” but that’s the difference between the good-hearted optimists in Michigan and me.

                                 (The Superior Dome - awesome)

Something else they’ve got there in Marquette – lake effect snow. I found out about this when I got off the plane and the first thing my greeter said to me was, “Did anybody call you?” Those are not the first four words you want to hear when getting off an airplane. No, nobody called me. Well, it turns out they were expecting over a foot of lake effect snow over the next twenty four hours, potentially stranding me in Marquette. On one hand that would have been okay since it would have given me a chance to check out the dome and the drinking, but I have to be in Atlanta today, so hanging out in “The UP” (upper peninsula) wasn’t really an option. For those of you unfamiliar with this meteorological phenomena, the wway it works is, if you live near a lake, you get a lot of snow. I have no idea why. A possible solution was driving three and a half hours south to Green Bay after the show, and then flying out of there in the morning, which did not sound like fun, especially after traveling all day. So after consultation with the weather gods, I decided to risk it. Turns out that was a good decision, as the snow didn’t get too bad overnight. Just enough to make the roads treacherous this morning.

The shuttle to the airport turned out to be a brand new Toyota Prius, which is a fine automobile I have written about in the past, but for all its gee-whiz hybrid technology, it’s terrible in the snow, which I realized as soon as we started going down a snowy hill and the driver said, “Oh shit.” The airport is about half an hour from town, and we slipped and slid the entire way. Just as we pulling onto the airport grounds, my driver said, “Well we made it.” Then we drove off the road. No joke. We took a turn a little too fast (fifteen miles an hour), and ended up driving into a ditch. After several minutes of huffing and puffing, clearing snow from the tires, and with the help of a good Samaritan, we managed to get the car free. The driver was very apologetic, which did nothing to dry my socks. Even so, I tipped him ten dollars and told him to get back safe. Flying in to a town in the middle of nowhere and ending up in a ditch – it seemed like a pretty good metaphor for my career at this point.

Here's a clip of my show last night, in which you can see me learning about the Superior Dome.

November 16, 2008

If You Want To See Stella For Free!

Stella Street Team

If you’re in one of the cities on the STELLA tour, we’d love your help promoting! Put up a bunch of posters around your town, and we’ll give you two free tickets to the show (plus our profound gratitude)! If you’re up for it, email us at StellaStreetTeam@gmail.com, and tell us where you are located, and where you can put up how many posters.

Thank you!