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July 13, 2009

More or Less Freaking Out

As I’m sure you all expect, my thoughts these days are mostly on the premiere of our new show, “Michael & Michael Have Issues.” The show starts in two days, and I’m going a little bi-polar over the whole thing. One minute I’m calm and collected, the next I’m writing morbid poetry and cutting myself. Maybe it’s an obvious thing to say, but any creative endeavor is a very frightening proposition. You work your ass off on something, give it everything you have, then put it out there, and, inevitably, wait for other people to tell you how much it sucks. That’s a hard thing to go through, and even though I’ve been doing it for a long time now, it never gets easier.

I remember the first day the State aired on MTV. We all gathered in our offices together and read the reviews as they came in. Back then, of course, you couldn’t read things on the internet unless you were in the Defense Department (which I was, but my security clearance was suspended because of an incident involving a “gag nuke launch.”). So we read the New York papers, one at a time, and each one hated the show worse than the other. I don’t know if the State received a single good review. It was a terrible day, and it was so devastating because we were all proud of the work and couldn’t understand why people were hitting us so hard. When a review begins with the sentence “Whatever executive at MTV approved this show ought to be given a drug test,” you know the rest of the review is not going to be kind.

Back then, we were able to kind of laugh it all off but it stung. (And by stung, I mean it reactivated my bulimia – this was before I learned how to cut myself.)

With this new show, the reviews to this point have been positive pretty much across the board, which feels good, but I believe if you laugh off the bad ones you have to laugh off the good ones, too. While it’s nice to read fine things about yourself in various publications, I can’t take it too seriously. “Stella” got a lot of good reviews too, but viewers told us otherwise.

Also I’m a little concerned that if the critics all like what you’re doing, it’s entirely possible you’re doing something wrong. That’s because I find that critics tend to be about two steps behind the general population when it comes to comedy; the fact that they hated The State so much made me feel like we were onto something new, something that they hated because they didn’t understand it. Then when the audience found the show and supported it so strongly, it verified that belief. I mean, if In Touch Magazine (4 out of 5 stars in their recent issue) likes what you’re doing, what does that say about what you’re doing?

I don’t have huge hopes for the show in terms of viewership. This is not false modesty. Nothing I have ever done has been especially successful in a commercial sense, and I’d be amazed if this show were any different. Besides, we can’t control what people think. All I can control is the work, and I feel like we’ve done a good job. If several million people happen to agree, that would be rad. (Yes I said “rad” in a desperate attempt to appeal to the youth. God, I hate myself.)

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Mike

Can't wait for the premiere!!!!!!

Joseph

You had me at "rad." I'm so eagerly awaiting this Wednesday. It couldn't come any sooner. Can it?

Lizz

I entered the "Sleep With The State" contest in about 1994. Still waiting for an answer. The essay was awesome and on the back of a Milwaukee vista postcard.

I grew up to be a TV critic... for awhile. Gave Stella a good review.

Still haven't heard back from this "contest" and am beginning to think it was a hoax.

Greg N.

I watched the Stella season last week waiting for my State DVD, which I watched in full over the weekend waiting for the MMHI premiere Wednesday.

Almost everyone I know has loved everything you guys have done, and for good reason: it's all really, really funny.

Good luck with the show; I'll be watching for sure.

Ashly

Chin up, little soldier. We all get down on our work sometimes. You are, "rad" (see, I did it too!) and while you'll get a million of these little pep-ups pretty soon, just know that you have always had a little redhead in SC rooting for you. Good Luck!!! (<< more than 2 exclamations means super excited)

Julia

I'll be watching the premiere! Best of luck!

dalas verdugo

"I don’t have huge hopes for the show in terms of viewership. This is not false modesty. Nothing I have ever done has been especially successful in a commercial sense, and I’d be amazed if this show were any different."

Is that how you pitched the show? ;)

Reen

According to your pal Joe LoTruglio the Chicago Trib gave The State 3 stars. So once again, Chicago is smarter and better than NY. I just saw that sketch the other day so I am giving it to you straight. Unless Joe is a big fat liar.

I'm confused. It sounded like you guys had some gala event tonight for the show. Anyway, not sure where you are - home or NY, and I'm not asking, but hopefully hopefully you are home. If you are home you will more than likely be calmer with your lovely family around to distract you and keep your mind focused on other things until THE BIG DAY. If you're alone in NY you're totally screwed. Here's your madeup horoscope: You're not a party guy but I think today is a good day to start. Go out on the town. Be like Ringo was when he escaped from simply reading a book to really experiencing the world! Get out there and take pictures - throw rocks with your mates. What you need to do, Leo, is stay super busy - listen to other peoples woes and problems - nod when necessary. Do all this and come back to me with the broom of the Wicked Witch of the West.

This show will be a HIT. Capital H and other capitals. When will people (you) start believing non-professionals with awesome instincts (me)?

Jeff

I agree that when all critics like something that is lacking in viewership, there's probably something wrong with what you're doing.

However, I can think of two exceptions to this: Arrested Development and Stella. Both were tragically short-lived despite being very funny. And both have picked up a lot of viewers after their untimely deaths.

While it's probably true that Stella can't boast the numbers a show like Family Guy got after they were first canceled, it seems like everyone I know has seen it now, whereas 4 years ago nobody knew what the fuck I was talking about when I mentioned the show.

It's one of those things that people don't appreciate until it's gone. Like Van Gogh. Or Polio.

The only problem I can foresee for MMHI is that you're probably on the wrong channel. Which I think was Stella's problem too. Comedy Central seems to rely too heavily on shows that are mindlessly funny (there are exceptions, of course). Which is fine; it's obviously working for them. But it sucks when a show like yours gets picked up and isn't given a chance because it isn't like the other shows they're playing. I hope it's different for MMHI.

You and Sho and your whole gang of State/Wet Hot doubloons have been consistently funny for over a decade now. In an ideal world, all of your projects would be met with major success. I will say, though, I'm happy to have even 10 episodes of Stella, and am so stoked to watch MMHI, however long it lasts.

I really hope the show is given a long and fruitful life and wish you the best of luck. Cheers.

Fred

When the State premiered, it was the funniest thing I had ever seen. You know those moments when you are watching a comedy movie/sketch/whatever and you think "this is perfectly my sense of humor?" That was the State for me, and still is; like you guys bottled something up that lived inside my brain and produced it. You are a comedic genius and your work always knocks me over it's so good. I consider myself somewhat funny and shows like the State nurtured that from an early age, so thank you. Best of luck with the new show, I know it will succeed.

Solange

As HUGE fans of Stella, my husband and I are thrilled that there are creative individuals like yourself who are willing to push the envelope and "go there". There are only so many hours of generic humor and canned laughter one can sit through without being driven to pick up a paring knife and start carving. I thank you for making comedy for "the rest of us". Best of luck with MMHI. I can't wait to see it. :)

Dollet

Listen, regardless of the quality of the show, I will still masturbate to it if it makes you feel any better.

Eva

That makes two of us Dollet.

Seriously though, I loved the state and stella and actually flipped when I saw you were hosting that show about comics and reality shows. I loved the hell out of that show. YOU made the show (& props to Fairbanks.) Whatever happens, you have incredibly supportive fans. Twitter has brought me to your blog at 2 am when I should be sleeping, that's devotion.

Break a leg tomorrow. Let us know where we can watch the FULL episodes online, last time I checked CC didn't air full episodes.

Jaime

Aw man, anxiety is killer. I quit my band about 1,000 times. Right before every show, I said, "This is the last show. This is too much for me. I hate this." And every time, after the last song was over, I wanted to do it all over again. Even when no one showed up, and even if I messed it up a little, I loved it.

But you're right, "...any creative endeavor is a very frightening proposition. You ... put it out there, and, inevitably, wait for other people to tell you how much it sucks." You are right, and I hate that. I was just saying how much I hate that. But, you know what, you made this. This is your night. And you don't worry about if your prom date likes your dress, or likes the way you dance, or leaves the party with Heidi Hossenfeffer or whatever. You are gorgeous. You are amazing. You just get out there on the dance floor and you dance your ass off. Because if your date doesn't like you, all eyes are on you, and most those eyes will see you and whisper, "totally rad." Bank on that Mr. Black.

Ok, so, yeah, it's just as easy for me to say these good things as it is for them to say those bad, but hey ... I think I mean it much more. You be you Michael, and you kiss your wife, and you hug your kids, and you just be your funny old self. At the end of the day, it won't matter what any paper, reviewer, blogger, twitterer, whateverer says. You will be you, and you will be great. No one anyone ever says can change that solid and constant fact. Good night -- get some rest, poor boy :) xxoo

Danielle

Michael,
I love you, and I'll be watching on Wednesday.

(I wasn't planning on it, but you had me at "rad".)

Kristen

Remember that shows like Two and A Half Men get huge audiences and critical acclaim. The masses are asses. Your show will be brilliant and underappreciated. I can't wait.

Oh, and quit it with the cutting. Self mutilation is SO 2007.

Jaime

Here here Kristen! Excellently said.

AmbroseKalifornia

Michael, all great artists strive only to please themselves.

If you like, then WE will like it.

You're kind of awesome that way.

Mitzi

"In Touch"? Ouch. I don't know. Could be the kiss of death. Or the kiss of middle-aged housewives. Which is essentially the same thing. Regardless, I await the premier with baited breath. And I don't even know what that means.

Camille

Yes I said “rad” in a desperate attempt to appeal to the youth. God, I hate myself.)

And that's why we love you!

Reen

Jeff, Fred, and Jaime - so beautifully worded. I wouldn't say no to a double date.

Mitzi - "middle-aged" housewives have a sense of humor, too. Remember...we used to smoke a LOT of pot.

Mikey

Don't ever worry that "lack of interest" means "lack of quality". Yes, nobody watched "Stella", but that doesn't mean that it wasn't fucking awesome (because it was).

Sitcoms and Glam Rock were/are pretty popular, and they suck. As my grandma used to say, "It's not your exposure that counts, it's your aspirations to deliver a superior product."

You sir, always deliver a superior product.

Jessica

Awww, I'm sure it'll be wonderful and even on the off-chance it's not, you'll always be my favourite media whore.

Ryalye

I want to have cable to increase viewership, but I don't. I don't even have a house. I'm not sure which is worse at this point in time.

Jaime

Hey Ryalye! It's Ryalye -- Hi Ryalye!

Well, being without a house, that is understandable. But no cable to watch MMHI?? Poor child! Hitch it on down to Austin if you need to borrow a set. It just can't be missed :)

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