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.”