Even more with those Stella fellas
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Even more with those Stella fellas
|(L-R): Michael Ian Black, David Wain, Michael Showalter|
In the latest City Paper, A.D. Amorosi chats with the boys of Stella — Michael Ian Black, David Wain and Michael Showalter — in support of their performance tonight at the Keswick Theatre. Here on Critical Mass, Jimmy Viola touches base with Wain and Black to talk about stage fright, comedians they admire and the direct correlation between good looks and career advancement.
City Paper: Your most recent film, Role Models, stars Paul Rudd. Tell me about your working relationship with him and why you keep bringing him back for your films.
David Wain: [Rudd and I] ... both have a real penchant for horrible TV shows and movies that we really enjoy. Having that short hand on that set and a combined experience is a great head start. Plus, this is one of the best actors there is, comedic or otherwise.
CP: How is the creative process with Stella?
DW: It's pretty organic. Whats nice is with Stella we haven't performed for each other in a couple of years. So it's really fun to be able to get back together and see what that three-way dynamic is now.
It's not exactly standup and it's not exactly sketch, but we write it in the same way that you would [create standup and sketch material]. We come up with an idea and write it out and rehearse, [but] when we're actually on stage we very often will throw away what's on the page and it can go any number of directions. And we'll never tell you tell you which is which.
CP: How have you seen stand up comedy change from working on The State in the early '90s to directing full-length films now?
DW: The whole idea of sketch comedy comes out of the fashion and videos of the time. For m, certain landmark moments are when people enter the forum like the Tim and Eric Show on Adult Swim. I think that they've, really more than anyone I can think of, have evolved the form beyond in a very cool way.
I also really love what Ali G is doing. Every TV show and every group tries to figure out a new take on sketch and none of them ever does. [Someone] like Sasha Baron Cohen finds their own cool way of attack.
CP: Describe your Stella troupe mates in a few sentences.
DW: Michael Ian Black is sardonic, cool to the touch and razor sharp. Sho is furry, warm to the touch and supersonic.
CP: Stella was a show on Comedy Central for one short but unforgettable season. How has the fan reaction been since it was canceled? Do you have a lot of people asking you to do another season?
DW: People remember Stella. They come up to us and tell us they like it, so on that one level it has a cult following. There was no mystery at all why they took it off the air — it had terrible ratings, generally the reason why shows get canned. People are always looking for what the controversy was, but it was very straightforward.
CP: You do the voice of The Warden on Adult Swim's Super Jail. Did you have any idea how twisted that show would turn out?
DW: I was so busy working on [Role Models], I was barely paying attention. [I've] watched it now ... I had no idea. The animation just blows me away. They really do incredible, meticulous work. They've been working on it for a really long time. I think they finished all of it before any of it was aired. It's one of the few shows that doesn't export its animation overseas and does it all in flash in a studio in New York, so it's a very handmade experience.
CP: One of the funniest movies that hardly anyone has seen is 2007's The Ten. Tell me about the making of that film.
DW: Making it was awesome. I put it together with my friend Ken Marino. We wrote it in a week kind of in a lark. I love it too and think it's really funny. It had a very, very low budget. We filmed in 40 locations or so in 40 days. To bring in all of these amazing actors — some of whom were friends, some of whom we've never with worked before. A real shame how nobody saw it.
CP: You've worked with a lot of notable actors. Who would still like to do work with?
DW: Some of whom I've met and gotten to know recently — I love Jonah Hill, Martin Starr, some of those guys. I really like the Lonely Island guys. There's a bunch. There's a larger comedy world.
MICHAEL IAN BLACK
CP: How would you describe your partners in Stella?
MIB: David Wain is crusty with pillow soft lips. Michael Showalter — sandwiches and cats.
CP: What contemporary comedians are you a fan, if any?
MIB: I tend to not watch very much comedy to the point of avoidance.
MIB: I just do [comedy for a living] and don't want to see it and be influenced by it. Although I watched the Ricky Gervais HBO special last night with my wife.
CP: What's more important — developing your own voice as a comic, or being well-versed in studying comedy?
MIB: I think I would rank those two in that order. It's far more important to have your own distinct voice and vision than to be an aficionado. I don't think it matters. Quoting Monty Python won't help you. I love [Tim and Eric]. I think they're brilliant. What makes them so great is their totally distinct point of view. They have really found something that's pretty unique to them and they know exactly what it is.
CP: You've worked with a lot different actors, especially with your appearances on VH1. Have you had any funny run-ins with celebrities?
MIB: Most actors are really interested to collaborate and work — very [few] people are tremendous dicks, aside from one other person who I perform in Stella with.
CP: Do you still get nervous after 20 years of performing together [the trio met in college at NYU]?
MIB: I think you always get nervous, but it's just part of the job because it's something you'd expect it. I'd be more worried if I wasn't more nervous. Every time I get in front of a crowd, I get nervous.
CP: Between VH1 and Sierra Mist and Pets.com and your poker playing, you seem to have established a more accessible face of comedy. Why is that?
MIB: It is probably because I'm so much better looking. Women want to be with me and men want to be me. Then there's the fact that I'm gifted with not only the looks but also with my penchant for my own natural hilarity.
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