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The Mass Media

2-26-24 PDF
February 26, 2024
An inside look at Bobby B. Beacon’s insides. Illustrated by Bianca Oppedisano/ Mass Media Staff.
Bobby's Inside Story
February 26, 2024

Black is the New Black


Black enjoys a good olive—and pill cocktail.

Michael Ian Black has been able to build up a cult following from his appearances in multiple television shows and cult classics. He might be best known for his commentary on all things retro on the VH1 series I Love the (insert decade here). Michael Ian Black is taking his dry, sarcastic humor to the stage…not just any stage but to UMass Boston on Sept. 14 at 6 p.m. in the Campus Center Ballroom.

I read that you took the stage with a group first; it was only later that you ventured to into the realm of stand-up comedy. In which setting is it more difficult to be funny?

I would say both are challenging, they are different skills. The nice thing about being in a group is you get to work with a lot of friends, and the nice thing about doing it by yourself is you get to do whatever the fuck you want.

You’ve directed movies, you’ve written screen plays, and you’ve acted in movies. Which do you find the most satisfying? Which is the most frustrating?

They all have their pros and cons. I would say making movies is by far the most frustrating. It’s a lot of, in my experience, road blocks. They get thrown your way and you have to navigate your way around and deal with. The actual fun stuff, the actual making of the movie is a… You don’t get to spend nearly as much time doing that as you have to dealing with other stuff.

What kind of road blocks? Like budget stuff?

Budget stuff, political stuff, bureaucratic stuff, schedule stuff… you know, actor drama and all kinds of stuff. It’s just headache after headache after headache.

I’ve heard your sex scene in “Wet Hot American Summer” described as the best gay sex scene ever filmed. Do you know of a scene that you would give that title to?

I’m partial to the one in Brokeback Mountain, the first time they have sex.

Any particular reason?

Just cause it’s so rough.

I thought yours was very sweet. It felt like there was a connection between Bradley Cooper and you.

Yes, ours is very tender. But when I want to see guy-on-guy action I’m looking for rough and ready. Brokeback Mountain really gave me what I was looking for.

So when you went to see that movie that’s what you were looking for?

I went for the story and the characters; man-on-man action was just a bonus.

There is a sentence on your Wikipedia that says, “Michael Ian Black is Jewish and has one cat and one dog.” Did you write that?

I did not. It’s not a very well written line because, as I think you’re implying, it insinuates that my Judaism has something to do with my choice of pets. Hold on, I’m looking it up right now…

It’s just a very matter-of-fact sentence.

There’s a citation there. I’m looking it up… it’s an interview I did… I can’t imagine who read that interview and said, “I should really update his Wikipedia page. There is nothing in there about the fact that he has a cat and a dog and he’s Jewish, I really need to get on this.” The three things really don’t have anything in common except for the fact that I did have my cat circumcised.

Who doesn’t? When you’re on tour what do you find yourself doing to pass the hours?

I’ve been playing a lot of Words with Friends lately. So I’ll have many games going on simultaneously. I can’t decide how I feel about the inclusion of the words “za” and “qi”, which were not – until very recently – in the official Scrabble player’s dictionary. The reason those words are important is because until now there were no two letter Z or Q words. It really changes the game. I can’t decide if I’m in favor for it or against it.

Do you find yourself using those words?

Well, sure, once they become available to you, you have to use them. It’s like Republicans who bitch about federal handouts and then take them. You’re not going to leave money on the table. I’m not going to leave “za” and “qi” on the table. I have to use them; I’m just not sure how I feel about them.

You filmed your comedy special, “Very Famous”, in Philadelphia. Why there?

It’s a good comedy town because the people there have nothing else to live for.

So you’re coming to UMass Boston and I’m wondering if you prepare for a college show differently than you would for an average comedy club?

No, not really. I wish I was prolific enough to have hours and hours of new material when I go out on the road, that I could just draw from and channel for each audience, but I don’t.

Yeah, you’re very much a rubber stamp, just the same thing for everyone.

Yeah, essentially. I just look at it as I’m punching in at the factory, I’m going to make my solar panels for eight hours and I’m going to punch back out. In my imaginary factory we make solar panels.


You can catch Michael Ian Black this Wednesday in our very own campus center or follow his prolific twitter @MichaelIanBlack.