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July 8, 2003

Voices's guide for this wet, hot, American Friday

According to Michael Showalter, comedian/writer/everythingman, you should see Stella Comedy because, "It's going to be so funny you'll crap in your pants, which isn't necessarily a good thing." Aside from that, there are even more enticing reasons why you should the comedy show this Friday, July 11 at the Logan Square Auditorium at 10 pm.   First, Stella Comedy describes itself as "seventy-five original, unconventional evenings of stand-up, sketch, musical, and all other kinds of comedy drawn from both the mainstream and alternative comedy worlds." Also, some famous friends of the State heroes, like Janeane Garofalo and David Cross, have been known to drop by unannounced.

However, the best reason is that the three-man show Showalter describes as a "weird hybrid of sketch and stand up" that has "a good vibe" and is "bizarrely homoerotic" features Showalter himself, Michael Ian Black, and David Wain. Since the two Michaels and Dave have come onto the comedy scene with their random blend of wacky, off-the- wall humor, they have been busting stomachs and charming fans for years. The college cult-flick Wet Hot American Summer features Showalter as Coop and Ian Black as McKinley. Showalter and Wain wrote the script while Wain also directed. Showalter asserts that they "drew straws" to decide the roles each would play in the movie production. In addition to WHAS, the trio is also part of the MTV sketch comedy show and troupe "The State", which rose to popularity in the mid-90's. Crowds of people and publications like the New Yorker and Entertainment Weekly have taken notice of the bladders at stake. "People are coming to see our particular comedy now," Showalter says of the fame, "whereas before, we didn't feel people knew where we were coming from."

It's no surprise that the pants-wetting hilarious 30-somethings have finally found their niche in the comedy world. When I interviewed Showalter Wednesday night, he spoke misty-eyed (because I can see through my phone) of the strong bonds he has formed within his dynamic trio.  He says fondly, "We still make each other laugh, but there's less sexual tension than there used to be. We have grown to tolerate each other." In a moment of seriousness and perhaps nostalgia, he ends, "We're great friends.  We're really great friends."

Showalter, Wain, and Black met through New York University's improv group the State that originally got its break opening up for Dennis Miller in pre-MTV days. Growing up, Showalter came from a family that wasn't especially "Ha Ha funny" but still maintained levity. His sister introduced him to the children's book by Crockett Johnson Harold and the Purple Crayon that he lists as a turning point in his life and career. Armed with his purple crayon, Harold goes on a magical journey that reveals the overwhelming sense of possibility that surrounds us. Other magical journeys like Jim Belushi's in Animal House inspired Showalter's career choice, too.

After touring with Stella, Wain and Showalter will film another spoof comedy-- this time, they attack the library of decaying romantic comedy carcasses.  After seeing Showalter, Wain, and Black dig their claws and suck the blood out of summer camp movies, as they did in Wet Hot American Summer, we can only

salivate at the idea of yet another mirthful endeavor.  Who says laughter can't bring people together?  Showalter shows us it can, and hopefully, you will come along with the rest of the State fans to support the guys--and split your sides-- at Logan Square Auditorium on Friday.