BLACK/SHO TOUR BLOG Day Eight: CHICAGO
(Sho) After Cleveland we went to Chicago. There’s not much to say about Chicago. It’s a shitty little city. Not nearly as much going on there as in New Haven. Kind of dumpy. Architecturally drab. Skyline unmemorable. People unfriendly. Chicks not hot. Dudes not cool. Haha! Just kidding! The chicks ARE hot! Anyhoozlewhatsit, we played a show at The Metro. Over a thousand people. The show was really fun. I did a bit at the top where I did improv with the mic stand. First I used it as a cellphone, “I’m on the phone”! Then I pretended I was an old guy on the beach looking for gold. Then I used the mic stand as a golf club and said I was Tiger Woods playing golf…for gold. It was funny. You should have been there. We laffed, and laffed, and laffed. Black did push-ups up during his set. I have pictures of it.
(Black) Chicago has to be in the Top 3 American cities: New York, Chicago, and then YOUR HOME TOWN. You see how diplomatic I am? I am from Chicago. Was born there and lived my first four years there, so I feel a certain affinity for the town. Of course, whenever I visit Chicago, my first stop is always the stockyards, where I like to watch the animals being slaughtered.
I still have family in Chicago. My uncle and cousin live there, and my uncle met us at the theater, and then we had a fun dinner with him and his two friends. One of them is a high school wrestling coach, and I was very upset during the meal when he decided it would be funny to put me in a choke hold. i guess it was funny, but he took it a little too far, and I ended up passing out in my spinach salad in my turkey tettrazini, which was weird because I didn’t even order turkey tettrazini.
The show was really good. Chicago has always been supportive of us and we always love performing there. Showalter mentioned that I did push-ups, which I did, but he didn’t mention the fact that I did THREE of them. Because I’m fucking ripped.
(Sho) After Chicago show we crashed. And I don’t mean went to bed. I mean we crashed a funny car. There were funny car races on the outskirts of town and we…oh God I’m boring even to myself. I can’t remember what the fuck we did after the Chicago show. It was almost four days ago now and we’ve been bleary eyed playing poker in Kansas City for three days selling our bodies for money to play black jack with. Chicago. Let’s see. I do remember we went downstairs to the house music bar underneath the venue and danced our ASSES off! Michael and I torched the floor with a full on lamada exhibition! We were grinding so hard it hurt. People were aghast. Mainly cause Mike’s butt was hanging full out of his sweatpants while we were grinding.
(Black) After the show, I think we went to bed. There’s not a lot of rock star shit going on. Mostly just drive, perform, bed. Sometime we throw in some extra driving after the show and then bed. Actually, I guess it probably is kind of rock star shit because that’s my understanding is that that’s what rock stars do: you just go from show to show to show. The debauchery is mostly about junk food as opposed to fucking and boozing. I did have a three way with two Asian porn stars, but that doesn’t count. I mean, it does count. It very much counts, but it doesn’t count.
BLACK/SHO TOUR BLUG Day NIne: ANN ARBOR
(Sho) Next day we drove to Ann Arbor. University of Michigan. Great crowd. I particularly liked the fact that it was cold. Detroit Tigers won their game and are heading to the series. I made a joke about the Yankee pitcher who crashed into a building. It’s never too soon.
(Black) The Blind Pig is the big rock club in Ann Arbor. It’s pretty filthy. They’re pretty proud of the fact that Nirvana recorded an early live album there; I suppose that is something to be proud of, but I thought it was inappropriate that when they introduced us to the crowd, they said, “They’re not as cool as Nirvana who recorded an early live album here, but please welcome Michael Showalter and Michael Ian Black, anyway.” I mean, what the fuck is that??? I’m a lot cooler than Krist Novoselic.
(Sho) After the show we drove into the night and talked about how great we are.
(Black) After the show we drove into the night and Showalter talked about how great he is.
BLACK/SHO TOR BLOUG: Day Ten MADISON, WISCO
(Sho) Madison is a great city in Wisconsin. They have badgers there. Michael talked about them during his set and said that badgers were scary and would grab upon your nuts if they had the chance. We drove from D.C. to Cleveland to Chicago to Ann Arbor to Madison and are now officially disoriented and confused about anything other than the fact that I like club soda and Mike likes Dr. Pepper. Being on the road is really fun but cities start blurring into one another. Now I know what Jon Bon Jovi meant when he said, “I’m a cowboy. On a steel horse I ride. I’m wanted – dead or alive.” He meant that he’s a cowboy and he rides on a steel horse and he’s wanted dead or alive. How it applies to me? I have no idea.
(Black) I actually think the “steel horse” was a metaphor for a mechanical bull. He could have just as easily said “on a mechanical bull” I ride, but I guess that’s why he’s a poet and we’re not. I agree with Michael that Madison is a great town. Very friendly and scruffy. We spent some time in a coffee shop before the show. The girl behind the counter was cute, and I thought Michael was going to try to ask her out. But he didn’t. He’s such a pussy. If I was single, I would have been like, “Thanks for the coffee, bitch. Now get that ass in the air.” But I’m married, so I settled for just saying, “Thanks for the coffee, bitch.”
I can’t even remember the Madison show at this point, but I’m sure it was good. Or bad. Or maybe it was just okay. I’m not sure. I’m not even sure we did a show in Madison.
(Sho) After we finished Madison, Wisco. We drove to Dubuque in the middle of the night because we heard they had a casino there. We started making lists of our Top 20 Songs of All Time.
Black’s list so far…
(In no particular order)
1. “Bridge Over Troubled Water” Simon & Garfunkel
2. “Come On Eileen” Dexy’s Midnight Runners
3. “Let It Be” The Beatles
4. “Buckets Of Rain” Bob Dylan
5. “Under Pressure” Queen & David Bowie
6. “Life In A Northern Town” Dream Academy
7. “1979” Smashing Pumpkins
8. “Exit Music For A Film” Radiohead
9. “Sweet Child O’ Mine” G’N’R
Sho’s utterly NOT comprehensive or well thought out TOP 20 ALL TIME SONG LIST (it has 41 songs on it)
1. “Wave of Mutilation” Pixies
2. “Pride (In The Name Of Love) U2
3. ”Bridge Over Troubled Water“ Simon & Garfunkel
4. ”Purple Rain“ Prince
5. ”High Fidelity“ Elvis Costello
6. ”Dee-do-do Dee-da-da-da“ The Police
7. ”Dance This Mess Around“ The B52s
8. ”Tears Of Rage“ The Band
9. ”Scenes From An Italian Restaurant“ Billy Joel
10. ”Lay Lady Lay“ Bob Dylan
11. ”What’s The Matter With You“ Split Enz
12. ”The Seed 2.0“ The Roots (w/Cody Chestnutt)
13. ”Somebody Up There Loves Me“ David Bowie
14. ”Reunion“ David Poe
15. ”Ship Building“ Elvis Costello
16. ”Doors Of Your Heart“ The English Beat
17. ”Paper Bag“ Fiona Apple
18. ”Waiting Room“ Fugazi
19. ”Slide“ Goo Goo Dolls
20. ”I Never Changed My Mind“ Jesse Harris
21. ”Last Goodbye“ Jeff Buckley
22. ”No Such Thing“ John Mayer
23. ”Cherry Bomb“ John Mellencamp
24. ”Down To You“ Joni Mitchell
25. ”King With A Crown“ Matisyahu
26. ”Try A Little Tenderness“ Otis Redding
27. ”So Lonely“ The Police
28. ”Everything In Its Right Place“ Radiohead
29. ”Wild Horses“ The Rolling Stones
30. ”Beautiful Child“ Rufus Wainwright
31. ”Pulling Mussels (From The Shell)“ Squeeze
32. ”52 Girls“ B-52s
33. ”My Old School“ Steely Dan
34. ”Sign, Sealed, Delivered“ Stevie Wonder
35. ”You Only Live Once“ The Strokes
36. ”Don’t Do Me Like That“ Tom Petty
37. ”Two Hearts Beat As One“ U2
38. ”Redwood Tree“ Van Morrison
39. ”The Black Angels Death Song“ Velvet Underground
40. ”Only In Dreams“ Weezer
41. ”Radio Cure“ Wilco
(Black) The problem is, I have a hard time committing to any particular songs. Some songs I’m into right now I might not be into later, and I hate to put them on my list if I’m not going to like them in a few weeks/months. Consequently, there are many song that I know I love, but I’m hesitant to permanently engrave them onto my list. Because once it’s out there, it’s out there. Now I know I’m going to get flack from people who are like, ”Black’s taste in music sucks. ‘Life in a Northern Town?’“ To them, all I can say is, ”Suck my dick.“
(Sho) So we get to Dubuque. There is a casino. No poker. They had a small poker room that wasn’t open. So we went back to our hotel and crashed (as in went to bed.) I put the TV on Sports Center and passed out.
DAY ELEVEN: POKER in KANSAS CITY
(Sho) We drove from Dubuque, Iowa to Kansas City, Missouri and went to play cards in the Ameristar Casino. They have no-limit poker. We got in around 9pm and played til late. I’m fairly sure I lost money. No, I’m sure not fairly sure. I totally sure. They had a really good bbq buffet though. I got pork loin, brisket, some weird green beans and like Rice Krispies thing, corn bread, mashed potatoes, collard greens. I was really hungry. Michael got a HUGE plate of baby back spare ribs and literally SMOTHERED it in spicy, tangy bbq sauce. He might as well have just poured that spicy, tangy bbq sauce on his face cause that’s where it ended up. I can tell you that much for sure.
(Black) God bless casino gaming. Not only should every city have casinos, every block in every city should have casinos. I love them. Of course, my game is the slots. I like to sit in front of the slot machines for hours like a zombie, mindlessly plugging nickels into the machine’s gaping yaw. That’s fun for me. Watching the wheels endlessly turn and occasionally spitting out fifteen or twenty cents. There’s nothing depressing about that at all. In fact, it’s what I like to call a ”good time.“
We didn’t play that much poker. Maybe six hours.
DAY TWELVE: MORE POKER in KANSAS CITY
(Sho) We woke up in the morning, headed over to the casino, and played all day. We’re kind of little two Depression Era hobos covered in bbq sauce, shoes untied, craws unshaven, rumpled, sitting at a card table for hours frittering our lives away. Actually, I’m really just describing myself. Mike’s shoes are tied and he craw is shaven, not rumpled. I think I did all right that time. We drove to Lawrence, Kansas for our big show at Liberty Hall. A beautiful venue. Everyone there was really cool. The show was great. Michael does an impression of me in his set. He imitates me doing my ”Duck with a penis“ bit. He purses his lips and pops his eyes out and makes his voice higher and sort of nods his head in weird way. It’s a pretty funny impersonation. So lately I’ve been coming on stage when he does it and doing my impersonation of him which is that I talk like an oaf and clomp around saying, ”I’m Michael Ian Black and Cracker Barrel gives me diarrhea.“ Then he impersonates me again talking about Akeelah and The Bee and so then I come back on stage and impersonate him doing his ”It’s a Nazi Party!“ routine. It’s fun.
(Black) We are sick fucks. There’s no other way to describe our behavior. We literally woke up and sprinted to the poker room. There was no game going yet, so we sat at the blackjack table for a couple hours waiting for them to open up a game. It took FOREVER!!! Finally, they opened a game, and we sat there until we absolutely had to leave to go to our show in Lawrence. Had canceling the show been an option, I’m sure we would have done that. They have 12 Step programs for people like us. But the first step, of course, is acknowledging you have a problem. I’m unwilling to say that spending sixteen hours at a poker table without stopping to pee or eat or drink is a problem.
I liked Lawrence. It seems like a cool town. Lots of aterno college kids in this cool little liberal enclave in the middle of Kansas. Every red state needs a town like that. And every blue state needs a stadium-sized Megachurch. The show, again, was good. A great old theater.
(Sho) After the show we got back in our car and sped back to Kansas City to lose more money.
DAY THIRTEEN: MORE POKER in KANSAS CITY
(Sho) Yeah. Um. Not much good to say about DAY 13 other than that I got some more bbq.
(Black) We have two days to get to Austin, so rather than do the responsible thing, which is to break up the drive into two days, we decide to spend the first day playing more poker. We are truly assholes. But at least we made up for it the next day.
DAY FOURTEEN: DRIVE TO AUSTIN
(Sho) Mike and I knew we had a long 700 mile drive to Austin so what we did was, we drove from about 11am til 6pm, stopped at a casino and played poker until 2 in the morning. We’re really smart like that. So at 2am we drove until 4:30am and Mike stopped at a gas station and bought: Sno Balls; Dr Pepper; Trail Mix. It was an official all-time low. Oh, I almost forgot. After we played poker at this random casino in the middle of Oklahoma for 8 hours we went into the parking lot and COULDN’T FIND OUR CAR! We were so worried. We searched the parking lot high and low for half an hour. We checked everywhere. We were starting to get really nervous because we have lots of valuables in the car. Finally, we found it and we celebrated with cheering and smiles and talked about how relieved we were. It’s that thing where you get so happy about NOT losing something. It reminded he and I of the time that we were tripping on acid in the Badlands (with Ken and Joe) and got lost in the canyons and it got dark and we were starting to having bad trips and it was like that episode of The Brady Bunch where Bobby and Cindy Brady get lost in the Grand Canyon and store the beans and hotdogs in their flashlights except we didn’t have beans or hot dogs or flashlights and it was pitch black and cold and rainy and we were really scared that we were gonna get eaten by wolves or something. Long story short we were about 10 yards from our car the whole time huddling together like buffoons thinking we were lost. When we found the car we truly REJOICED! Finding the car in the parking lot of this casino was a similar feeling of happiness.
(Black) You know you have a problem when you are so excited to get into the casino that you cannot remember where you put your car. When you are so focused on sitting down at a card table with nine strangers that you cannot even remember where you placed the vehicle carrying all of your belongings, thousands of dollars in cash, and the computers on which you have stored pictures of your children. Somebody should really spank us.
DAY FIFTEEN: AUSTIN DAY #1
(Sho) Michael and I played poker again last night. Michael had a funny conversation with someone at the casino. It’s the kind of conversation that he said makes him feel awkward and sad. It went something like this…
The characters are the dealer, Michael Black, and The Kid. The Dealer asked Mike, ”Are you that guy?“ and Mike said, ”Yeah.“ *
*(It might be worth noting that at 3am when Mike’s in a backwoods casino playing poker in Louisiana with degenerate gamblers (of which he is one) the last thing he wants is to be recognized.)
Upon hearing the dealer The Kid, 20s, speaks up. He says, ”What do you do?“
Black says, ”I’m an actor.“ He says that, naively, hoping it will end the conversation.
The Kid says, ”Oh yeah?“ then ”Have I ever seen you in anything?“ This is an annoying question because even though Michael and the Kid have a very good relationship, he’s not familiar with what TV shows or movies the Kid has seen.
Black says, ”I doubt it.“ Again hoping to end the conversation.
”You ever been on CSI?“
”What about The Shield? You ever been on The Shield?“
”No. I really don’t think you’ve seen any of my shows. If you had you would know me.“
”What was the last thing you did?“
”The last one was called Stella.“
”So if I went on IMDB it would be on there?“
Another interesting moment from Mike’s poker table.
(Black) It’s always nice to come down to the New South where you can see black and white really do co-exist in harmony. For example, we were playing poker there was a large white gentelman at our table and an even larger black card dealer who sat down to deal at our table. When he did the friendly white guy made a joke about how the two of them could be ”bookends“ because of their respective sizes. The baseball World Series is on TV and less than five minutes later friendly large white guy turns to fellow white man, Crusty Codger, also playing, and makes a remark about the baseball game.
Crusty Degenerate Gambler Codger says, ”I ain’t never watched a baseball game in my life.“
Friendly guy is surprised, ”Really?“
Crusty Borderline Alcoholic Degenerate Gambler Codger says, ”Yeah, I never liked baseball or basketball.“
Friendly white guy, within earshot of the dealer, who happens to be black, who is sitting next to him, says in a conversational tone, ”Basketball – that’s been overrun with jungle bunnies.“ I’m sitting farther away from him than the deale is, and I can hear him clearly, so obviously the dealer can hear this. Then he continues, ”Now football is going that way too.“
Crusty Borderline Alcoholic Degenerate Gambler Codger who needs a good hairwashing says, ”We gotta get some good white players.“
Friendly guy says, ”Well, they’re the best players so what’re you gonna do?“ End of conversation. Naturally, I was outraged and did what any good liberal would do – I said nothing.
(Sho) I won a bunch of dough. Which isn’t saying much because I lost a bunch of dough before. And when I say dough I mean cookie dough which is useless when you’re in a casino. Cookie dough gets in your clothes. Worst of all it was lemon cookie dough and I don’t even like lemon cookie.
(Black) When casinos starting paying out in cookie dough is a real mystery to me. I can’t say I mind it, because the dough does make excellent cookies, but when you’re touring the country you don’t necessarily have easy access to an oven. As a result we had to buy a mini-fridge to store all that cookie dough. We tied it to the roof of the car, but I’m afraid we didn’t tie it very well because as we were driving, it flew off the roof and crashed into a car behind us; I’m pretty sure it killed the driver. Oh well.
(Sho) So we drove in to Austin from our degenerate casino jaunt. The Austin Film Festival is in Austin this week and we’re on a bunch of panels. The first one is ”Making An R Rated Comedy.“ David Wain has flown in from New York to join us for the weekend. Tonight there are two screenings of The Stella Shorts at a really cool art house theater in Austin called the Alamo Drafthouse. We’re hosting the screenings and doing Q & A and stuff. So anyway, we get to the panel ”Writing An R-Rated Comedy.“ The other panelists are the guys that wrote ”Wedding Crashers“ and Jake Kasdan who made the movie ”Orange County“ and was a director on ”Freaks & Geeks“ and many other things. The panel was fun. We all talked about how great we were.
(Black) There’s not that much to say about writing an R-Rated comedy other than you should put in tits. That’s pretty much it. Other than that, they’re pretty much like other comedies. The ”Wedding Crashers“ guys and Jake Kasdan all seemed nice. We didn’t hang out afterwards. But we did shake hands, which seemed like the right thing to do.
(Sho) The Stella Shorts screenings were fun. Fun is my new favorite word. It’s fun to use. Seeing the Stella Shorts all at once is an interesting experience. The recurrent themes: dildos; extreme sadistic violence; fingering oneself; sodomy; gails of laughter; angels; looking at the camera, etc. It’s fun to watch them together. The people at the Alamo Drafthouse couldn’t have been nicer. It was good to see Dave. Mike and I at this point are not sure where we are, what’s up, what’s down. Etc.
(Black) The Austin crowd definitely supports Stella. We did two showings of the Stella Shorts, and they were both sold out. Very heartwarming to see so many people come out. I hadn’t watched any of those shorts in a long time, and I was kind of shocked by them. They’re pretty extreme. Very funny, but really fucking out there. The one with Zak where we tell him to dance and put on a little fuck music is very funny. But the one that really made me laugh hard for the first time was ”A Day Off“ when all we do is run around with a golden retriever for three minutes. I was really laughing hard at that; just the pure stupidity of that I found hilarious. We really are great.