Interview I Did With the University Daily Kansan
By Valerie Skubal
Comedian Michael Ian Black says, “You'd have to shit in my mouth to make me really uncomfortable,” and you have to believe him.
From movies such as Wet Hot American Summer and comedy sketch shows such as The State and Stella, he shows the audience that he has no limit to his humor. The comedian talks to Jayplay about his new sketch comedy show, Michael & Michael Have Issues, who the real headlining Michael is and what he thinks about the University.
Jayplay: What inspired Michael and Michael Have Issues?
MIB: Michael and I have been friends for a long time and we thought it would be fun to do a show based on our lives. We also wanted to do some sketch comedy because we haven't done that for a long time and that's where we got our start. This was a kind of natural way to do both with a sketch show and about our real relationship: best friends who hate each other.
JP: You guys are pretty mean to each other on the show. Is your real-life relationship with Michael Showalter as love-hate as it is on the show?
MIB: It's obviously a huge exaggeration. Our real relationship is far more love than hate. But there is some hate. I think we have a very competitive relationship in real life and exaggerate it for the show. It's not so far off though.
JP: Who really is the headlining Michael?
MIB: Well, in terms of who's the more famous and talented, obviously I am. But Michael has his good qualities too, he's good at doodling. I'm clearly the headliner. I spend a lot more time on VH1 than he does.
JP: Would you say who you are on the show reflects who you are in real life?
MIB: Like everything else, it's an exaggeration. Theres nothing on the show that is exactly like it is in real life. At the same time theres nothing so far removed from real life. How much Showalter gets laid is an exaggeration. As far as I know, he's a virgin. He's overcompensating with all the women on the show.
JP: Why do you use Twitter so much?
MIB: I'm an attention whore. That's the main reason. And I'm trying to get more followers than Weird Al Yankovic. I'm not sure how many he has. We're pretty close.
JP: What makes you uncomfortable when doing comedy?
MIB: There is very little that makes me uncomfortable. You'd have to shit in my mouth to make me really uncomfortable. I want you to print that. That needs to be your lede. If the article doesn't start with that I'm going to be very upset with you.
JP: How do you think your approach to comedy has changed over the years from The State to Stella to Michael & Michael?
MIB: It hasn't. By the time you're 12 your sense of humor is pretty much what it's going to be. It's just a question of getting better at it. I don't know if I've gotten any better at it. I just keep doing it. The things I was doing with The State make me laugh and will probably make me laugh for the rest of my life.
JP: What will your kids think?
MIB: I'm sure my kids will be deeply mortified by me when they get old enough to see my work. We made a Stella video where we took turns sucking Ms. Claus' dick. I'm sure that won't go over well with my children but what are you going to do? This is who I am.
JP: Where do you get your inspiration for the sketches you do?
MIB: They just happen. People ask that a lot but I don't know how anyone comes up with ideas. They're like the little big bang in your brain. The answer is not 'smoke a lot of weed.' People who assume that smoke a lot of weed themselves and look to justify their behavior. That's a theory, I can't back that up.
JP: What did you want to be when you grew up?
MIB: A long-haul trucker. When i was growing up in the late 70s that was the coolest thing you could be. There was a TV show called B.J. and the Bear about a long-haul trucker and his chimp. I didn't need the chimp but I felt like I needed the truck. In retrospect I was lusting after the wrong thing, it would be far better to have the chimp than the truck.
JP: What were you like when you were in college?
MIB: The same. But just with cheaper clothes and an even worse haircut and slightly more acne.
JP: What got you to leave college at New York University?
MIB: I took a job as a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle, me and Ben Garant who was in The State. We traveled the country as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and I left for a semester and didn't go back.
JP: What is your favorite thing you've done?
MIB: I would say the Stella TV show. I think it's really good and it's what might be called 'underrated.'
JP: Who are your comedic influences?
MIB: John Belushi, George Carlin, Eddie Murphy.
JP: You've been doing Klondike bar commercials, what would you do for a Klondike bar?
MIB: Make Klondike bar commercials. I had never had one before I ate one for the commercials. Terrific.
JP: Any new projects we should know about?
MIB: Waiting for Comedy Central to decide whether Michael & Michael is up for another season. I'm just writing a book and waiting. But if you have a job for me I'll take it. Michael Showalter and I are going on tour but we're not coming to Kansas but if you want us to come we can. I like doing colleges, I like Lawrence a lot.
JP: Any last words for the University of Kansas?
MIB: Just the University of Kansas is my favorite university in the world. There is no better university in Lawrence, Kansas than the University of Kansas.