Michael Ian Black talks up Snark Week, road-tripping with Meghan McCain & being “Very Famous”

Michael Ian Black jokes early in his new Comedy Central special, “Very Famous,” (premiering this Saturday) that he specializes in getting cancelled from TV shows. But you sure do get to see quite a bit of MIB on your TV, don’t you? So The Comic’s Comic asked him about this, and other things keeping the comedian very busy this summer.

Do you think that getting on TV is more of a battle than staying on it? “In my experience, it’s much easier to get on TV. My experience may be much different than yours or anyone else’s. It has been my experience, you walk nto somebody’s office and say, ‘I want to make a TV show.’ And they say, ‘OK.’ And then they cancel it. Sometimes they make the TV show. Sometimes you never make it on the air, but at least you’ve wasted a year of your life making it.”

Does that make you hardened over time, or does it make it easier for you to keep pitching new shows having gone through this process repeatedly? “It’s technically easier to take now on one hand than it did, on the other hand…but the older you get, you realize your mortality, and think, oh, I’m going to be dead by the time the next opportunity comes around.”

Well, we are both coming up on 40 (MIB turns 40 on Aug. 12). Do you have any 40th birthday plans? “I got a job in L.A., so we’re going to go to L.A. for a week and hang out with friends, have a big birthday dinner. I can’t say I have big birthday plans. But I have plans. Los Angeles is never my destination of choice to celebrate things, but it’s often my place to celebrate out of necessity.”

I wasn’t sure if you were going to use the Wet Hot American Summer anniversary celebration (tonight in Brooklyn — SOLD OUT) as an excuse for your birthday. “No, no I’m not. But it is David (Wain’s) birthday (Monday).”

Do you think we’re obligated to discuss the tentative plans for a WHAS prequel or sequel? “No, I don’t think we’re obligated to.” OK. Me neither. Let’s get back to you and your special. Black will be hosting a live video webchat on Wednesday, Aug. 3, at 4 p.m. Eastern (1 p.m. Pacific) via Yowie.com.

Also to promote the special, Comedy Central online has Black hosting #SnarkWeek with videos, jokes and games to parody that other cable TV sensation called Shark Week. Roll a clip!

So how’d Comedy Central put you in charge of Snark Week? “Yeah, that’s exciting. We had an idea called Snark Week, which is a play on Shark Week, and they gave me an honorarium, and I’m never a guy to pass on an honorarium, and it’s all in service of my special. What do I care? Want to do Snark Week all year long? What the hell! Sign me up!”

Surprised you didn’t go with snack week instead to also promote your podcast (Mike and Tom Eat Snacks)! “Didn’t even occur to me. Snark and shark rhyme. Shark and snack don’t. I think it was a lot about rhyming. of which I’m a fan.”

You’re also a fan of style, as you make a grand entrance for Very Famous, strutting in with a big pimpin’ coat and hat (assisted by Joe Mande), with a nice suit underneath. I remember you were more T-shirts and jeans when you first started doing stand-up. Is this a conscious effort to change up your style, or was this just for the special and DVD? “It’s all style, no substance. Well, I keep thinking I’m going to stumble upon some signature look that’s really going to make me stand out from the crowd. I’m not very audacious in my sartorial choices, except I’m wearing Crocs right now, which is super audacious. People have a visceral hatred toward Crocs, which makes me want to wear them even more. If I could wear them in public.”

Meghan McCain and Michael Ian Black at a Pittsburgh Pirates game, July 23, 2011

You just returned home to Connecticut from a two-week cross-country road-trip with Meghan McCain for your upcoming book, Stupid For America. Do you and McCain have more trips planned, or was that it? “It’ll be the largest trip, maybe the only trip.”

Did you do any shows or speeches together, or was it more of a fact-finding mission? “Research. Which is the easiest way to say jerking off across the country, which is to say we had a very good time.”

How did you end up meeting McCain and working on a book together, anyhow? “I was doing a pilot for a talk show, she came on for a short segment. That’s how we met. Although we didn’t even really meet then because it was on satellite. After that I was on Twitter one night, saw she was on, and wrote her that we should write a book together. She said, ‘Sure, why not,’ because she didn’t know I was kidding…turned out I wasn’t kidding.”

In the special and the clip above, you mention you’re not really much of a drinker. But it seems like McCain convinced you otherwise on your road trip? “I did drink more on this trip than I have in my entire life. Which isn’t a lot. I was drinking just about every night for the cross-country trip, but not to the point of drunkenness.”

What kind of beer were you drinking? “Bud Lights, and the reason is that Meghan’s family goes back with Anheuser-Busch and they have two big distributors of that beer. So out of loyalty to her and out of loyalty to all Republicans, so now I’d drink only Bud Lights. And also because I love America so much. I don’t drink these elitist beers, you know, like Pabst.”

We’ve spoken a lot about comedians being on the Internet this year, both at SXSW and at Internet Week NY. Why have you embraced the online world of social media more than many comedians? “Because I have a lot less employment than other comedians. If I were employed, I wouldn’t be on the Internet. I also have excellent touch-typing skills. This is one of the lesser appreciated skils in typing. If I weren’t such a great touch typist, my career would be even more in the shitter than it is now. It’s also, not to brag, but I have a 128kbs dialup modem. I know it’s going to come out like, Michael’s so rich, but no, my AOL hookup is flawless, so I’m on the Internet all of the time.”

Michael Ian Black: Very Famous, debuts on Comedy Central at 11 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 6, 2011. A full CD version comes out on Aug. 9.

Sean L. McCarthy

Editor and publisher since 2007, when he was named New York's Funniest Reporter. Former newspaper reporter at the New York Daily News, Boston Herald and smaller dailies and community papers across America. Loves comedy so much he founded this site.

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