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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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Sarah

Don't worry, Michael, you have lots of loyal fans supporting you (and Showalter)! Even if you gain no new fans with MMHI, you'll still have all of us who have loved you since The State!

jaguar

Anyone who has preformed must understand that nervous, excited feeling. It is part of putting yourself out there. You know you'll be judged. ( Maybe it's from growing up a not so popular, non- athletic, jewish kid in NJ. I have lived in that boat. Lots of years of being judged harshly. It make you a nerveous, scarcastic, and cynical or it that just me.) But Michael, your no little kid who needs to worry about this. You are a successful humorist/ comedian/ actor with a group of devoted fans. ( I hate the word fans. It makes me think of psycho stalkers. I need another word for someone who follows your info on the internet but not chasing you around in real life. Ah, Twitterer)

I wrote a mimi review for my blog.

I watched M&MHI twice tonight. I would like to first state that it was funny and enjoyable. It had enough levels and variety to remain entertaining throughout. I will admit it was a little more mainstream than I had expected. While I did laugh quite a few times. It was missing those big (Oh NO They didn't !) gut buster laughs I got from Stella. On the other side of this coin Stella could be down bizarre / creepy at times. While it worked for me I get how others might have been put off. I believe that the M&MHI does have potential. I just hope it is given enough episodes to find its feet.

Jaime

I posted something similar on the MMHI forum, but it bears repeating: Great job Michael(s). I think the show-within-a-show format works nicely -- the farting butterfly and Kevin the Joshaholic skits were great. Loved your "rocking out to Josh" lip-biting face Black. Uproarious my friend. Also loved the:

"Right Jackie(?) I was running internal office errands?"
[deadpan] "No."
Funny!

I like the no-nonsense chiks in your show: Martha and Jen carrying on their conversation, Biederman's wife, the receptionist. They are patient women :) You guys are just incorrigible! I really love the backstage parts the most. Firing the intern, Sho's silly explanation to his girl, your txts -- petty nonsensical fabulousness. I can't wait for next week when everything will be completely new for me. You should be proud boys. That tickled my ribs just right :)

p.s. I also like lemon pledge on my table tops.

Jaime

Also, just so you know, I was worried perhaps my love of the Michaels had blinded my judgement, but I just rewatched the show with my husband, who also loves the Michaels but is not a die hard like me, and he loved it. So, the show just passed the biggest test in my book: the Kevin test. He cracked up throughout.

Moment of truth:
"What do you think Kevin?"
"I thought it was great! Really funny."
Yay!

And just so you know, the Kevin test is a really hard test. He is meticulously discriminating. So sincerely — you guys are awesome! And Kevin approved :)

John Henry

I like to think Stella didn't get good numbers because it was too challenging for most audiences - you wouldn't expect cutting edge pieces in other mediums to be huge hits would you? Nobody listened to the Velvet Underground when they were together, does that make them bad? Even such brilliant shows as The Wire and Arrested Development recieved low ratings.
Audience doesn't mean quality. I think in the end what proves quality is the rabid fanbase any of these cult shows have, and every stella fan i know quotes the show at least once or twice a day.

Laura

I watched every episode of stella the night it premiered, and I loved it. Don't worry MIB, you rock and the work you produce is, dare I say, stellar!

karissa

i wish i could perform sugery on a pregnant dolphin. :/.........


i love you.

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