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March 24, 2009

My Voice Is Gone, My Spirit Remains

Today was tough. I woke up cold, crabby, and with a sore throat that made me feel as if I had spent the previous evening blowing Neptune, God of the sea. That’s a bad way to start any day, unless you are Mrs. Neptune (or perhaps, even if you are Mrs. Neptune). I figured the throat would resolve itself as soon as I got some hot tea down my gullet. No such luck. The pain subsided somewhat as the day progressed but my voice faded from rough and sexy to tracheotomy patient within hours. Not good, especially considering I had a show at NYU later in the day.

People might think that writing a television show is a largely silent activity, but the truth is, there’s a lot of talking involved. Talking about what you’re going to have for lunch, various real estate opportunities, the naked photo of Cindy Crawford in the new edition of Allure, etc.  So there is a lot to talk about, which did not allow me to rest my vocal chords as much as might have been wise.

Original
         (Thank you, Allure magazine, for this)

As a result, by the end of the day I was straining to speak above whisper volume. The thought crossed my mind that I should cancel my NYU engagement, but then I thought: all I have to do is show up and I think they are obligated to pay me, whether I can speak or not. Worse comes to worst, I figured I could always do the show in mime. After all, I am very good at “invisible box,” and “fighting against the wind.” If I did that for an hour, that more or less fulfills my contractual obligations, yes?

So I show up at NYU thinking it probably will not come to that. The adrenaline and the microphone will allow me to power through an hour of hilarious comedy. And if my voice is a little scratchy, so be it. All well and good.

Things start to turn south when I show up at NYU and am escorted to the eighth floor. What kind of theater is on the eighth floor? As it happens, no kind of theater. A fluorescent lit classroom? Yes. Those do exist on the eighth floor, and that’s where I am scheduled to perform. But I don’t know that yet, because the door to the classroom is locked, so I have to stand out there with all the kids waiting to get into the show, which is awkward. Especially when a kid sitting on the floor keeps saying to me, “This isn’t funny.”  Good stuff, buddy, I love it.


When they finally get the door unlocked, I discover the classroom and ask if there is a room where I can go sit before the show. No. No there is not. There is no room and there is no backstage. What there is is a tiny alcove where I can sit on the floor and hide from the audience who have already seen me. It’s that or stand on stage while they file in. I decide to hide.

Another minor consideration is that my face is broken out. I have two pretty big zits on the left side of my face and one on the right. I wouldn’t mind if my acne were at least symmetrical, but asymmetrical acne is really unattractive, and the fluorescent overhead lights aren’t doing much to help.

When the nice lady from NYU finally brings me  out, I take the microphone from the lectern and open my mouth to speak. Nothing comes out. When I say nothing, I mean NOTHING. My voice is not there at all. Gone. This has never happened to me before, not even when I was the lead singer of my high school punk rock band. I have certainly strained my voice in the past but never has it abandoned me completely like this. A hundred young people are staring at me, unsure if what I am doing is a bit or not. What I want to say to them is, “It’s not,” but I can’t because I cannot say anything at all.

After a minute or so I discover I am able to whisper into the microphone if I am very quiet. And I find myself thinking, “Can I do an hour of whispered comedy?” I do not know, but I think I may have to find out. The audience to their credit are lovely. They do not seem to begrudge my impairment at all, perhaps because they are young and sympathetic, unlike real New Yorkers who are hateful. I count myself among the hateful.

So I’m going along, attempting to do my jokes in a whisper when suddenly the bottom of my voice opens up and it’s like somebody just turned on a vibrator on the highest setting. All of that gorgeous chest resonance comes barreling out of me for a moment or two and I feel compelled to masturbate a little on stage as I get off on the sudden emergence of my own utterly masculine vocalizations. Do I work up a little pre-cum getting off on my own voice? I do.

This is obviously much better, but it is still a struggle to keep the voice from disappearing as I muscle through my set for the next hour. I ended up getting through it alright. The students seemed to enjoy the performance, and I enjoyed them enjoying me. Except for the guy with the Backstreet Boys goatee who told me he didn’t like my outfit, and the guy who was unapologetically videotaping the entire performance until I explained that that wasn’t cool because I was going to fuck somebody on stage later and that somebody was going to be him.

When the show ended, I had dinner with my dear friend Ken Marino, who did most of the talking. Not because of my voice but because he’s a fucking loudmouth. I’m kidding. Not about him being a loudmouth, but about him being my dear friend. Now I am at my studio apartment in New York City recounting my travails for you, dear reader, because I want you to know the sufferings I endure to make you laugh. Am I hero? I certainly would never answer yes to that question, but yes. Yes I am.

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kristin

I bet that kid with the video tape really liked it when you fucked him.

I'm saving that picture so I can look at it while I imagine you fucking that camera kid. It'll be awesome.

sam

I think we all worked up a little pre-cum at that moment. Great show!

rachelk

i'd comment on this lovely entry but i scrolled up, saw the picture again, and lost all train of thought.

Maggie

Haha. I'm the photographer girl with the "trust fund" (read: loans, living in brooklyn).... great show.

DamnThisSux

You are a true philanthropist.

bree

Great Show @ NYU! Thanks for coming, even though you were sick. Please come back!

Leihulumamo

Ian,
Nice to see you had something to smile about today. She definitely looks good.

Hello son

Oh my. I'm utterly speachless at this day of yours. I know that vulgarity is the new "thing" in comedy, but seriously, you didn't win me one bit. I'm sorry you had a bad day.

Dean

As the person who was filming you from the audience, all I have to say is that I only film stuff that I like, and since you made me stop, I guess I don't like you anymore.

Ok... I still like you.
But how kick ass of a comeback was that!?
Great show tonight ;)

Camilla

Loved your performance tonight! You did a great job despite your sore throat. I'm really sorry you were put into such a horrible room (compared to that MSG theater you spoke at back in August, this must've been the equivalent of a bitch-slap) and I STILL can't believe that guy was obnoxious enough to video-tape you! Also, if it makes you feel any better, I personally did not notice your zits (nevermind the fact that I sat in the back). Anyway thank you for visiting us Michael. We love you (in case you couldn't tell from some squealing, uber-excited girls that were present in the room), and we would not have minded if you mimed for us. Please come again soon. Know that you have an army of students here ready to take back NYU with you whenever you are.

PS.
Your career is not in the shitter. Please don't think it's in the shitter.

West Village Chick

You have a studio apartment in NYC? I'm going to go out and look for you...starting NOW.

SOOOOho

I LOVED you, until you were vulgar. *shakes head*.

Christina

You forgot to mention the fact that that BSB goatee guy was wearing a pashmina on only one of his shoulders. Too bad you bolted off the stage so goddamn quick and didn't stay long enough to see the jacket he put on to go back outside... it was white with thick, diagonal purple stripes. Style.

Also, since you bounced so quick after the show, I wasn't able to give you a cupcake that I had ready for you. It was cherry vanilla flavored, and I had to give it to my boyfriend instead. He said it was good, so, your loss, Michael Ian Black.
Great show tonight, though-- it was my birthday, and you gave me the gift of giggles and some damn sexy, raspy voicework. Thank you!

Random PB Member

Camilla - I mean, yeah, it's not fucking Madison Square Garden but give us a break... we weren't purposefully trying to be dicks by having the show in Shorin. Program Board has to reserve rooms in Kimmel so far in advance that 99.9 percent of the time we haven't even booked the lecture or show that's going in there. We really wanted Michael and had the $ for it, but this was the room we had already reserved for us. By the time we knew Michael was coming and had booked it, finding another big room in Kimmel would have been impossible unless we hired the kids from Take Back NYU! to do it for us... and we know how that turns out.

So give us a little credit for bringing a really great comedian to NYU. Yah the room sucked and Michael was sick but everyone seemed to be having a lot of fun (except Backstreet Boy).

One of those annoying people from the Lone Star State

I'm not gonna lie- I didn't even know who you were until the Presidential Welcome at the beginning of the year, but I'm glad I came to your show tonight! It was funnnnyyy, and it was totally coincidental that you totally bashed my home state (I didn't get to raise my hand...haha) AND the Washington Square News, which I write for. No offense taken at all- in fact, bravo for putting both in their places! Hope you come back and give us another round of laughs soon!

ryan

Her vagina is creeping down her leg! it may be prehensile.

ToddPM

Naked Cindy Crawford, and you *talk* about her. You find your voice on stage and THAT makes you masturbate? You Hollywood folks are weird. Even when you're New York Hollywood types. Just weird.

But I'm sure Michael Ian Black at 50% was still way funnier than most comedians at 100%.

Plus, you posted a naked photo of Cindy Crawford. So you've got that going for you.

@ToddPM

Brian

"Comedy isn't pretty." - Steve Martin

"Boy, you turned out real pretty." - My uncle Dave.

Kate

If I had to envision the guy who was filming everything without your consent, his name would definitely be Dean.

Matt

What's up with people not liking the vulgar humor? That's your best stuff! Don't listen to those pretentious NYU assholes.

Poopy McFartypants

"Vulgar?"

Michael, I thought you were at NYU, not my granny's prayer meeting. Dearie me.

Drewsufer

Microscope!

Dean

Why am I getting so much shit for filming last night?
I'm a film & tv major what do you expect?

Red

Cindy Crawford sure needs a lot of bubbles to cover her nether regions.

crawseated

That picture of CC is not remotely sexy. not in any way. I know this because looking at it does not make me feel dirty, it makes me feel sorry for her and her enormous, square, white bush, saggy tits and saddlebags. Gross.

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