Stella on stage Comedy trio whips crowds into a frenzy with talk about presidents

By Amy Carlson Gustafson

Updated: 12/01/2008 06:11:35 PM CST

Don’t ask Michael Showalter about the flu unless you want to hear the history of the virus. The New York-based comedian confesses he has a thing for books about influenza, along with plagues, various diseases and mental illness.

But, hey, let’s not forget the guy is funny.

As one-third of the comedy trio Stella — along with Michael Ian Black and David Wain — Showalter, 38, has found various outlets for making people laugh whether it’s on stage (he’ll be with his fellow Stella mates at First Avenue on Thursday), on TV (the trio had a short-lived Comedy Central gig) or in the cult summer-camp film “Wet Hot American Summer” (Showalter and Black were actors in the film, Showalter and Wain co-wrote it and Wain directed it). Before forming Stella in 1997, the trio was part of the beloved sketch comedy troupe the State that had its own MTV show in the ’90s.

We recently caught up with Showalter via phone from his home in Brooklyn .

What Stella will be talking about at First Avenue :

“We talk about how much we like to party. Well, we say we do, we claim to. I’m not saying whether it’s true or not.

“We talk a little bit about the new president and the old president. But we also talk about really old presidents like James Monroe. I can’t give anything away — that’s like a magician giving away his secrets.

“We’re going to talk about things that audience members have screamed at us during shows in the past. Certain audiences can get a little rowdy. Going to see Stella is like going to see Elvis back in the day. We tend to whip our audience into a similar kind of frenzy. There’s a lot of pelvic thrusting.”

He loves his cable news:

“I watch a lot of news. I watch MSNBC all day long. I watch Rachel Maddow, Keith Olberman and Chris Matthews. I’ll watch their daytime stuff with David Shuster and Andrea Mitchell. Rachel Maddow is funny, she’s very smart and she’s very opinionated, too. She came along at a moment when people couldn’t get enough news and she had just the right point of view so people were really excited about her show.”

His prediction for this season’s winner of “Top Chef”:

“I think the woman who’s a lesbian and has a lot of tattoos and she made the cold corn chowder — I think she’s going to win.”

A description of his “memoir of sorts” that he says will be out next year:

“The first 100 pages is me talking about how I could never write a book as good as ‘A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius.’ And then the second 100 pages talk about James Frey and how I don’t think I could write a book as phony as he did.”


  1. Are you really writing a book?? This is fantastic news (if it’s true)!!

    P.S. Jamie (lesbian) is a talented chef, no doubt, but I am leaning heavily towards Stefan to win.

  2. A book?! YES! I’ll read that.

    Tonight’s Stella show at The Vic was unforgettable! I really hope this isn’t the last time you guys will tour together, I’d love to see Stella again. I’m glad I finally formally introduced myself to you after the show since I’ve been to “every show in the midwest” and never told you my name. What a pleasant surprise before the show when you came up to my mom and I in the line to say hello!

    Looking forward to the next show!


  3. You guys had a show in the Twin Cities? I never saw that in the tour dates, I wish I would have known…damn. Can’t wait for the book, and some more Michael Showalter Showalters!


  4. Wow, I was just checking various book sites to see if there was any advance word on a book, so this is great news! I am looking forward to more info on this, such as: 1) Is it true? and 2) when do I have to hold my breath until?



  5. I don’t know, I think that Leah girl has some tricks up her sleeve. And those darned Europeans — so tenacious.

    Pumpkin tiramisu. Insanity!

  6. I look foreword to reading your book, you magnificent bastard!!!

  7. I like how you whip up the crowd. That’s hot.

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