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.)