Michael Ian Black and Michael Showalter are anything but strangers to one another. Both were members of the sketch comedy show The State, which found a home on MTV in the mid-’90s; both played roles in the 2001 summer-camp spoof Wet Hot American Summer; and the duo represents two-thirds of the Stella comedy trio (which landed the group a series on Comedy Central). Before performing here with Stella last year, the Michaels came through the Twin Cities in 2007, each touring in support of his individual comedy album: Showalter’s Sandwiches & Cats and Black’s I Am a Wonderful Man. Both CDs represented a swatch of each comedian’s respective standup acts, which tend to include a slew of ironic quips and insights into their irreverent views on the world. In Showalter’s case this includes his experiences of being mistaken for “one of the most iconic losers of all time” (Screech from Saved by the Bell), while Black incorporated admissions to his confusion surrounding Googling himself only to find out—much to his surprise—that he’s gay. The duo have now returned to the small screen, again with Comedy Central, in Michael and Michael Have Issues, where they play absurd versions of themselves, continually bickering as hosts of a sketch-comedy show. Frankly, they play the characters a little too well.
[This critics’ pick was originally published by City Pages.]