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Arts and Entertainment

Michael Showalter Wears His 'Funny Pants'

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Photo courtesy Michael Showalter.
Odds are, if you've gotten this far (that is, ten words under the headline and photo), you know who Michael Showalter is. If not, here's a the CliffsNotes: wrote and starred in cult classic Wet Hot American Summer, as well as The Baxter, Michael and Michael Have Issues, and the webseries The Michael Showalter Showalter. Of course, there's also Stella and The State. Of course.

If you've made it THIS far, you're officially a comedy nerd, and will be excited to know that Showalter recently penned a book (memoir? sort of. keep reading.), appropriately titled Mr. Funny Pants. Additionally, he'll be in LA to discuss the book, and anything else that should come to mind, on Friday March 5th, with shows at Book Soup and The Echo (longtime friend and fellow Stella alum David Wain will join him at the Echo show).

LAist was lucky to catch up with Showalter in between legs of his book tour. The full (albeit brief) interview is below:

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LAist: First, tell us a bit about Mr. Funny Pants.

Michael Showalter: It’s a sort of memoir. At least that’s what I set out to do, but most of the book just ended up being me writing a book about trying to write a memoir. The actual memoir doesn’t start until sort of the end of the book.

LAist: What made you decide to actually take up writing a memoir?

MS: I’m always interested in different mediums, and it just seemed like a fun project.

LAist: Do you think books are a logical extension of the writing you’re already doing, or do you at all feel that they’re becoming an outdated form of communication between a person and their audience?

MS: Well, I like books. I can’t speak for the rest of the world. I still think they’re pretty great.

LAist: With most of your comedy, you tend to play with the audience in a ‘meta’ way. What is it about that style of comedy that appeals to you?

MS: It’s not intentional, to be perfectly honest. It’s just how my mind works. I’m a little self-conscious. [In Mr. Funny Pants] I’m commenting on what I’m writing as I’m writing it, and it just ends up being ‘meta’. It’s not intentional.

LAist: But even that type of comedy, of challenging expectations with an audience, has developed its own following. Intentional or not, do you find yourself changing up how you do things even more, just to keep that new devoted group guessing?

MS: Not really. Honestly, with My. Funny Pants, I was just like ‘I gotta write a book. Come hell or high water, I just have to write this book.’

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LAist: There are sections of the book that outline a real disillusionment with Los Angeles. Any chance that you’ll be having more fun out here now, with a book under your arm and smaller venues to play in?

MS: No. LA always creeps me out.

LAist: Really...Why is that?

MS: I don’t know. I feel like I’m not cool enough, or something. Like I don’t have what it takes.

LAist: Fair enough. Kevin Kline has begun reading excerpts of the book and posting them on YouTube. Surely there’s no better PR campaign than that.

MS: That’s what I think. He’s one of my comedy heroes. He’s just one of my heroes in general.

LAist: Where do you think sketch comedy stands today?

MS: I think Tim & Eric’s show is really funny. You know, sketch comedy is always about ‘the group’. There will always be great groups, but it isn’t something you can just put together. Good sketch comedy happens when a group of funny people come together and really click. It just happens whenever it happens.

LAist: Any current comedians you think we should know about?

MS: There are a lot of comedians that I’m a really big fan of, but just because of geographics a lot of them are in New York. I’m doing a show tomorrow night in Brooklyn with Eugene Mirman, Kumail Nanjiani, Reggie Watts and Michael Ian Black, all of whom I think are wonderfully funny. I did a show the other night with Kristin Schaal, who I think is fantastic. Kurt Bronholer I think is wonderful. There are a ton of great LA people too, I just don’t get to see them as often.

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