Fans of Wet Hot American Summer, Stella, The State and strange humor can turn their channels to Comedy Central on Wednesday for a new show starring Michael Ian Black and Michael Showalter.
The two, who acted together in Wet Hot American Summer, star in Michael & Michael Have Issues, a sketch comedy show about a sketch comedy show. At times, the logistics of a show-within-a-show confuse even Showalter.
“It would be weird to be making a scene about making the scene that we were making,” he said in a press conference call.
Though the show has a narrative structure, Showalter said it’s like a sitcom: each episode has a story line, and the characters are the same from week-to-week – there’s no need to watch the first episode to understand later ones.
Showalter said he met Issues co-star Black back in “the 20th century” on The State, a mid-’90s sketch comedy show on MTV. Showalter said he didn’t set out to be a comedian – in fact, he studied semiotics at Brown University. He said the degree helps his writing.
“It’s a very analytical thing to major in, and it has a lot to do with analyzing the structure of things,” he said. “I’m very interested in structure and formulas and the way things work.”
Showalter, who lives in Brooklyn, said he finds the area stimulating for his writing.
“I love it. It’s where I live – it’s my home. It’s beautiful, it’s quiet, it’s a great place to have a small one-bedroom apartment,” he said. “It’s got the Brooklyn Bridge, it’s got the botanical gardens. The Dodgers – the Brooklyn Dodgers – I get to see the Brooklyn Dodgers play baseball every day.”
Yes, the Brooklyn Dodgers disbanded in the mid-’50s – this is simply Showalter’s style of humor.
But Showalter also has a simpler side. For one, he likes the comic strip Peanuts, specifically the character Snoopy.
“He’s funny. He’s cute. He’s a cartoon. His name is Snoopy. He’s a dog. Did I already say he’s a dog? He’s a dog,” Showalter said.
Though he doesn’t have plans to draw a comic strip, Showalter said he is serious about doodles. He likes to doodle – he said he’d try to compile his doodling in a book if only he didn’t have so many things going on in his life.
People who want to follow the many parts of Showalter’s life can track his Twitter account, “mshowalter.” Showalter uses it to talk about his day-to-day activities. He said he prefers to get in arguments online rather than in-person.
“It’s easier to fight with words than with fists. So I prefer Twitter-fighting to real fighting. But I’ll do it. I’ll throw down if I have to,” he said.
Showalter has advice for college students who want to be comedians, but he said it may involve living in New York City or Los Angeles.
“Just work hard and make friends, and don’t get discouraged too easily because it may take a while. I’ve always felt that if you work hard at something, you’ll succeed,” he said.