“My name is Michael Ian Black. You might know me from such shows as Cancelled, Comedy Central’s No Longer on the Air and my sitcom Two and a Half Episodes.”
This is how M.I.B. starts his album Very Famous. But in all reality you might recognize him—keyword might, how’s your obscure TV memory?—from the TV shows Ed, Comedy Central’s Michael and Michael, and his previous 2007 stand-up album I Am A Wonderful Man. Regardless of his iffy TV career, Ian Black is a polished and well-crafted stand-up comedian.
Black’s mantra throughout this CD is, “Aha! Opportunity to be hilarious.” Because as far as he’s concerned he should be paid every time he makes a joke in the real world. Even if it may seem rude or crass or downright exploitative of others it doesn’t matter as long as there is some kind of joy or hope generated, however false and fleeting it might be.
Black does not have to rely on his Hollywood career and tales of the seedy underbelly of TV sitcoms. His material instead, comes from a mixed batch of triumphs and humiliation stemming from his personal life to his favorite hypothetical game called “Ambien Racing.”
His material tends to be long form and structured like a story. He goes through tales of airports—which he hates—saying, “I have decided that if I cannot make air travel pleasant for myself, the least I can do is make it unpleasant for somebody else.” He’ll then move to the topic of his children’s Halloween costumes to the time he thought he had blood in his stool.
Black has that moment in his life that we all have sooner or later: the moment you are disappointed in your children. Actually for me it’s more like being disappointed in my Transformers or Star Wars Play-Doh figurines, but I feel the pain nonetheless. His children have dressed up in generic Halloween costumes. But luckily he finds redemption. When it turns out that the neighbor kid has dressed up as a much more creative idea he exclaims, “I did not give that child candy. I gave him a hug and wrote him a check for a hundred dollars.”
Some facial expressions get lost in the translation to audio CD. Actions such as feigning the last seconds before he dies to emulating a supposedly adorable cat’s face delight the crowd, but mystify the listening audience.. The kind of things that we all paint with our imagination brush but fail to ever confirm. It’s probably just Comedy Central’s diabolical plan to get me to pay for the DVD.
Very Famous is on sale in stores and on Itunes. Black does a masterful job finding his opportunities to be hilarious as well as relaying his autobiographical embarrassments in equal measure. If things continue to be bleak on the TV and movie front, then stand-up comedy fans might be the benefactors. Follow him on Twitter @MichaelIanBlack.
About the Author: Nate Rankin writes Comedy Reviews and Fiction because no one taught him any better. His fiction has been featured by Workers Writes, theNewerYork! and Used Gravitrons and is forthcoming in The Green Blotter. His work can be seen here: http://iamseamus.tumblr.com/writing You can find him on the Tweety Box @CommanderSeamus If you'd like to submit a review inquiry please send to nrankin22[at]gmail[dot]com