He's busy being funny

The Baltimore Sun

Michael Ian Black takes what he can get.

Recognizable from his appearances in VH1's I Love the ... series and Sierra Mist commercials, the Chicago native isn't exactly selective when it comes to job offers.

"I look for roles that people will hire me for," he says. "That's generally it."

Despite his lack of lofty aspirations, Black has managed to do more than lend his biting sarcasm and sardonic wit to pop culture commentaries and product promotions.

The co-writer of the short-lived cult TV shows The State and Stella is sort of a comedic renaissance man these days. He splits his time between writing, acting, directing and stand-up comedy.

Recently wrapping scenes for a part in coming episodes of CW's The Reaper, Black will next finish his stand-up tour, which will come to the Ottobar on Sunday in support of his first album, I Am a Wonderful Man.

In previous stand-up routines, Black, 36, covered such topics as how to emasculate your friends, good news/bad news scenarios and football on the beach.

During a recent telephone interview, he described his brand of comedy as "lots of talking, jokes and funny faces."

Although his first foray into stand-up was sort of a "now or never" decision, Black says that he's pleased with the reception that he's gotten from audiences throughout the country.

One opportunity was recently cut short for Black. Because of the Writers Guild of America strike, development for a Comedy Central pilot was put on hold. The show would star Black alongside Stella collaborator Michael Showalter as National Public Radio hosts who constantly bicker with each other.

Although Black supports the strike, he says he was too busy to take part in the picket lines. "I didn't have time to take a train to walk around in a circle," he says. "Besides, they already have Robin Williams."

Black credits his time spent on VH1's I Love the ... series with getting his face and name in the public eye. Although he recently finished filming scenes for the coming I Love the New Millennium, Black says it's next to impossible to remember which topics he's offered commentary for throughout the years.

"You don't even remember what you say during those things," he says. "However, I do remember eating a burrito."

Black recently got more name recognition when his screenplay Run, Fat Boy, Run was adapted for a film.

Directed by Friends star David Schwimmer and starring British actor Simon Pegg, who also co-wrote the screenplay, the film was released in the United Kingdom in September and will be released in the U.S. in March.

The film is about a chunky guy who leaves his pregnant fiancee at the altar and decides to run a marathon five years later to prove his love and affection for her.

Although Black didn't have much say in how the film was adapted, he was happy with the result, crediting Pegg's star power for the film's success in the U.K. However, he doubts that it will have the same success here.

Black doesn't have any deep or emotional explanation as to what inspired him to write the story.

"A fat guy running a marathon just seemed like a really funny idea to me," he says.


Michael Ian Black will perform his stand-up routine along with Michael Showalter at 8 p.m. Sunday at the Ottobar, 2549 N. Howard St. Admission is $17. For tickets, go to missiontix.com.

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