Mr. Funny Pants

Comic/writer Michael Showalter hits the road with a new book

Comedian Michael Showalter's involvement with MTV’s classic sketch show “The State” should be enough to draw a crowd to any of his shows. So should his appearances on Comedy Central in “Stella” and “Michael and Michael Have Issues,” both of which co-starred Michael Ian Black. Fans of silly, absurd comedy who flock to cult-classic showings of Wet Hot American Summer, or have seen the dryly brilliant Showalter-penned movie The Baxter, should pack the house. And if that’s not enough, Showalter says he plans something absolutely mind-blowing at the end of his set. Really, it’s magical and mystical and it’ll make you wonder if your drink’s been spiked with hallucinogens. But first things first. The New York-based comic, actor and writer just released his first book, Mr. Funny Pants. While at first Showalter jokingly refuses to talk about the book, requesting that The Reader talk to his representation, he does in fact tell how he wrote his first book. “On a computer,” Showalter says. Then anticipating the follow-up question, Showalter confirms his keyboard prowess. “Yes, I do touch-type. I use all 10 fingers when I type,” he says. The book, which is a series of comic essays, observations and memoirs, follows a narrative backbone of Showalter trying to write a book. The reason for taking on the project was obvious — telling people that you are writing a book sounds good at parties, he says. “It was done entirely out of vanity. I wanted people to like me and think that I was smart,” Showalter says. On a more honest note, Showalter says everybody wants to write a book because, well, books are cool. “We all pretend we read them,” he says. When he started he was easily able to get publishing rights taken care of, as Grand Central Publishing practically begged for the chance to put the book out. Showalter responded quickly when asked if he had to finagle Grand Central into printing the book. “More than convinced them, they paid me $5 million to write the book,” he says. “The advance was astronomical.” Whether that’s true is probably up to Grand Central, Showalter and Mr. Showalter’s financial team. On his current tour, Showalter is doing bookstore appearances and comedy sets. The bookstore events feature more proper readings from the book, while the show is framed more as thoughts Showalter had while working on his book. Showalter says most of his comedy sets will happen in venues that usually have bands, including Omaha. For Omaha, he says he’ll just sit at a drum kit with a microphone and play Built to Spill covers. There will only be a tiny bit of stand-up comedy. Actually, Showalter says he usually avoids the comedy club circuit because it's harder to connect with fans when he plays those rooms. “People who know about me wouldn’t know if I’m playing a comedy club,” he says. Meanwhile, Showalter's last television project, “Michael and Michael Have Issues,” is officially over, as is Showalter's relationship with Comedy Central, which aired “Michael and Michael,” as well as Showalter, Black, and David Wain’s previous effort, “Stella.” Showalter says he is insisting it’s over and he won’t subject himself to having another show canceled by the network. “They are begging for us to come back,” Showalter says. “But we're holding firm.” A movie project by Showalter, Black and Wain, who also do live performances under the “Stella” banner, could be up next, though nothing has been written. Meanwhile, Showalter is doing all he can to insure he packs houses while on tour. If that means drawing on experiences from hanging out with Black, who has starred on a network television show, countless VH-1 specials and Sierra Mist commercials, so be it. “If it will make you happy, I will tell stories about Michael Ian black at my show in Omaha,” Showalter says. And when all the jokes are over, prepare to be amazed, Showalter says. “At the end of my show, I turn into a glowing ball of light and I float away.” Michael Showalter plays the Waiting Room Lounge, 6212 Maple St., Saturday, March 12 at 7 p.m. Tickets are $12. For more information, visit onepercentproductions.com. Showalter will also be reading from his book, Mr. Funny Pants, at the Bookworm, 8702 Pacific St., at 1 p.m. Saturday.

posted at 10:46 am
on Wednesday, March 09th, 2011

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