Re-Introducing the "Very Famous" Michael Ian Black

By Sean McManus
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 0 | Posted Mar. 9, 2011

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You seem to poke fun at your own fame a lot. You calling your Comedy Central special “Totally Famous” is you playing coy. Your bio for McSweeney’s pokes fun at it too: “Michael Ian Black Is A Very Famous Celebrity.” But you’ve gotta know you’re totally famous, right? Do you not feel famous?

I would say I’m totally famous among a very small group of people. There’s a lot to say about that subject. First is that fame is maybe the least desirable commodity in our culture. It is the most valueless, overrated and stupid commodity in our culture. Part of what I’m making fun of when I make fun of it is that anybody would want to be famous to begin with. It does nothing for your life other than give you awkward encounters at the mall. That’s more or less the extent of it. At the same time, my business operates in such a way that you need it as a currency in order to get things done. So you’re kind of caught in between two opposing desires. One is to be left the fuck alone. And the second is to get things done and make some money. Those desires are competing with each other. But, my own level of fame is not that great and it’s funny to me. It’s funny for me to acknowledge that.

You just recently did a Viva Variety reunion. I’m sure you’ve get asked this all the time, but will there be a State reunion? You’re coming up on a 20th anniversary.

Whenever we get together, when we do on occasion, we always express a desire to do it. The problem is, there are so many of us. Most of us are pretty busy in show business. When you’re slicing a pie 11 ways, those slices get awfully thin. So, financially, it gets difficult. And then, the culture at large doesn’t seem to give a shit one way or the other. It’s not like someone is dangling a check in front of us and saying, “Go make a movie.” They’re not. If they did that, I’m sure we would do it. It’s difficult to make it happen. We came close a couple of years ago. Comedy Central expressed interest in making a movie with us and we said “sure” and we wrote a bunch of stuff. For whatever reason, their funding went away. That was kinda the last time we thought we might do something together. It’s just hard. We’d like to.

You’ve all gone on to do bigger and better things. Are you bummed to be asked about The State, or are you proud of it?

I think The State, for me, is like someone who went to a big football school. They will always identify themselves as an alumni of that school. That is what The State is for me; that’s where I come from. As in college, I formed some of the closest relationships during that time. Those people will continue to be my lifelong friends. For all of us, it’s an origin place. It’s where we started. I think that’s where we’ve gone back to time and time again. We work with each other all the time.

Finally, cheesesteaks: Pats or Genos?

I know of them and haven’t tried either. So, whoever is going to be pissed off by whichever one I say, that’s the one. If you’re going to be pissed by “Genos,” then I say “Genos.” If you’re going to be pissed off by “Pats,” then I say “Pats.” My inclination is just to provoke.

Fri., March 11, 8pm (sold out) and 10pm. $15. Trocadero, 1003 Arch St.

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