Mr. Funny Pants Amazon Borders Barnes & Noble

Nice people saying nice things about Mr. Funny Pants!

Wow! I am completely and totally blown away by all the really awesome/humbling/wordsmithy press MR. FUNNY PANTS is receiving. Check ‘em out…

Salon

Shelf-Life

VanityFair.com (I read stuff aloud in this one)

Daily Beast

The Awl

New York Observer

Gothamist

In which I talk to Punchline Magazine

Thanks Emma Kat Richardson! This was a lot of fun.

“Michael Showalter: the accidential comedian?”

and then he slipped on a banana peel and died. the end.

There’s a movie out in theaters now called, “Conviction.” It tells the true story of Betty Anne Waters (played in the film by Hillary Swank) a working mother who spent over a decade educating herself so that she could become a lawyer just to prove her brother was not guilty of a murder that sent him to prison for life without parole. With the help of attorney Barry Scheck’s Innocence Project she was able to show through DNA that the blood found at the murder scene was not her brother’s and then after 18 years in prison, her brother was finally declared innocent and set free. It is an amazing and uplifting human story with a heartwarming and satisfying ending.

Here’s what they don’t tell you in the movie: six months after being released from prison the brother fell off a wall and died. Yep. You heard me right. Six months after being released from prison the brother fell off a wall and died. He was walking home from dinner with his mother and his brother, he took a short cut home that involved walking on a wall, a wall that he fell off of, and then died.

Can you imagine? This woman spent over ten years putting herself through school! She got a GED, then a bachelor’s degree, a master’s degree in education, and then a law degree! She passed the bar exam! She spent eighteen years of her life to get him out of prison! And she did it! She got him out! Against all odds she got him released! And then…he fell off a wall and died.

Gee, I wonder why they left that part out? Oh, I know. It’s a huge bummer. It’s the ultimate anti-climax, and Hollywood sure does hate an anti-climax. Oh, Hollywood.You can just imagine the ensuing argument between family members, “He was doing just fine in prison, Betty! He was taking correspondence classes and making belts!”

Can you imagine if all of our favorite movies had an anti-climax?

“Rocky is a smalltime boxer who gets a chance to fight against the heavyweight champ. On the night of the big fight, Rocky badly stubs his toe walking into the arena and has to postpone the fight. The End.”

“Believing that they are meant to be together, Meg Ryan travels thousands of miles to find Tom Hanks in ‘Sleepless In Seattle.’ She looks everywhere but they never meet and she goes back to Baltimore. The End.”

“Billy Elliot is the son of a coal miner, who loves to dance. With support from the miners in town, Billy and his Dad finally make it to London for the big audition. They return home to anxiously await the ballet school’s decision. He doesn’t get in. The End.”

“After hearing a voice telling him, ‘If you build it they will come’, a man builds a baseball field in his backyard so that “they will come.” He waits for a long time and they don’t come. The End.”

“Keanu Reeves plays ‘Neo’ a unsuspecting hero who must fight the forces of evil to save the world in ‘The Matrix.’ Just as he is about to realize his potential he changes his mind and decides that he doesn’t feel like it.”

Come to think of it, I’m glad they left it out. Who wants a bummer ending? Not me. When I go to a movie I want to feel uplifted, inspired and transported. Without a Hollywood ending I’d feel let down and disappointed. It’s not important that after struggling for 18 years to get him released he fell off a wall and died. It’s really not about that at all. It’s about about the love of family and one woman’s determination. What it’s really about it is the meaning of life. And the meaning of life is…darn, I had it written here in front of me but I think I misplaced it. Oh well. The End.

Interview w/RUMPUS.NET (a super cool smarty pants website)


Click here to read.

BIG ANNOUNCEMENT

My TV show with Michael Black has been officially announced in all the trades.

Click this link here to check’em out!!!

Time Magazine

Click here to read what Time Magazine had to say about my NYT spoof.

STELLA Article: Brooklyn Rail

A very cool and smart article about Stella and pop culture in general click here to read.

Rolling Stone Article: The State Reunion

Read me to read about The State reunion that I’m about.

STELLA – TWIN CITIES

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

By Amy Carlson Gustafson
agustafson@pioneerpress.com

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.”

STELLA interview Real Detroit

Stella’s Michael Ian Black + Michael Showalter
By Ryan Patrick Hooper
Dec 2, 2008, 10:02

Email this article
Printer friendly page

Stella’s Michael Ian Black + Michael Showalter
The State Of Comedy

Comedy is no longer comedy. Comedy is now the art of the anti-delivery, the telling of the pseudo-joke tangled within an awkward silence as we wait for the punch line. But the punch line no longer arrives with an off-tempo comedic styling, rather it doesn’t arrive at all. Humor is not delivered as straightforward as it used to be, but twice as observational as ever, leaving the audience to examine themselves instead of laughing at the distant yet relative blunders of others. Half the time, we probably “just won’t get it,” but this whole phenomenon of letting the awkward realities of life speak for themselves instead of packaging them inside a meat-and-potatoes joke is so mainstream and common that comedians who still play within the envelope are considered a bit boring and left to wallow under the radar. While Dane Cook’s superhuman stage presence coupled with point A to point B in-depth inspections of blue humor, clumsy romance and sexual encounters has put him at the top of his craft, comedians like Michael Showalter and Michael Ian Black are so deadpan and heavily rooted in uncomfortable pragmatism that we’re left to wonder where and when the joke started and if it ever ended. It’s Andy Kaufman rising from the grave. And while the average observer might not be able to catch it, there is still an ounce of practical performance left within Stella’s stage show (and ill-fated Comedy Central series of the same name that starred Black, Showalter and third member, David Wain) that occasionally helps the ill at ease become embarrassingly relatable and comically memorable.

“One of the things about Stella that was hard for an audience to get was the layer of reality hanging over that show that people didn’t understand,” explains Showalter, as he gets ready to treat his friends and family to a massive Thanksgiving dinner before heading out on tour with Wain and Black. “A lot of the time, the joke in Stella was that we were doing the joke at all. Mainly because of the Internet, comedy is now somewhat parallel to the music industry in that you have your mainstream artists, or comedians, who have a mass appeal, and then you have a million shades in between it. Those millions of shades used to not be as accessible to everybody, but now they are. There is always going to be a huge appetite for Sinbad, but there is a parallel that they want the same thing in comedy as they do in indie music … something a bit harder to figure out. Newer comedians are experimenting with the idea that there are other ways to be funny than just telling jokes and hitting the punch lines.”

“Any sort of artistic movement in any genre is largely fueled by a reaction,” explains Black who, after conducting what would ultimately serve as a preliminary interview, finally ditched his shtick to talk about the changing of the guard in the comedy world. “When I started performing comedy, the primary comedic style — sometimes exclusive comedic style — was the Jerry Seinfeld school, where you were making cool observational humor about the stupidity of every day life … sports jacket, sleeves rolled up, basic cable comedy. [Anti-comedy] was a reaction to all of that.”

This was ’88, and all three members of soon-to-be comedy trio Stella were freshmen at New York University, hungry to pursue improv and sketch comedy. While Black only recalls being “17-years-old and not knowing anything,” Showalter remembers the three of them being extremely “interested in live performance” and exploring new parameters of comedy. But Showalter and Black do agree on one thing — Wain was kind of a prick. “He was a cock to everybody,” says Black, “because he believed himself to be in a superior sketch group. Plus, he was a sophomore while we were freshmen so he lorded his own greatness over us. But, of course, he ended up begging to be in our sketch group.”

Both before and after Stella came to fruition, the trio would collectively and separately pursue the entertainment industry with astonishing success. Showalter’s biggest claim to fame remains the cult classic Wet, Hot American Summer while Black is best known as a talking head on various VH1 series (as well as writer of Run, Fat Boy, Run and most recently a children’s book). Wain has yet to stop bragging about the success of Role Models, a movie that he both directed and co-wrote.

While their pursuits outside of Stella remain commercially viable, the comedy troupe stands as a testament to the sort of comedy that wins the popular vote today — crossing humor with awkward reality to a point where no one is quite sure when the joke begins and ends. This leaves the audience to wonder — where does the reality for Showalter and Black begin and end? How much of themselves are they presenting on stage, and how much of their public persona is an illusion?

“I’ve always been interested in … the separation between a performer as they presented themselves in public and how they are in private, and the mythology they created around those personas,” says Black. “There’s fact and there’s fiction, and I don’t generally reveal what’s what.” While Stella’s performance is a prime example of artistic fluidity, Showalter has a wildly different perspective on the matter. “I just like to be myself,” explains Showalter who, throughout the interview, has expressed excitement for how full circle his career has become — he currently teaches screenwriting at New York University’s Graduate Film School. “I find that I’m more interested in what’s true. In my sense of humor and the work that I do, I’m trying to establish a thin line between my character and who I really am.”

“I’ve never watched a performance,” adds Black, “and thought to myself that I was seeing the totality of a human being. I don’t know what obligation a stand-up comic has to show the entirety of their personality with the audience. Certainly someone like Jerry Seinfeld doesn’t. He’s essentially a blank slate and, consequentially, I don’t find him that interesting.” | RDW