Michael Ian Black Isn’t Here to be Nice, He’s Here to Give Advice

The comedian gets a little naughty with the Minnesota-nice crowd as he doles out wisdom on snacks, baby showers and becoming friendly-ish neighbor.

Photo Credit: Jayme Halbritter

After giving us a few insights into his early comedy days and divulging a little info about the upcoming “Wet Hot American Summer” Netflix series, comedian Michael Ian Black returned to the Fitzgerald Theater stage to give our audience advice (with a little cameo from our musical guest, indie songstress Angel Olsen).

Brendan and Rico kicked things off by asking Michael the question he asks folks on his own podcast, “How to be Amazing.” Namely, “What’s the best and worst advice you ever got?”


Michael Ian Black: Best advice was maybe the first piece of professional advice I ever got.  Which is: “Ten minutes early is on time.” I’ve tried to adhere to that advice.

Brendan Francis Newnam: And you were early today.

Michael Ian Black: I was early, yes. I was here at dawn.

Rico Gagliano: I noted that.

Brendan Francis Newnam: Well, we couldn’t afford the hotel room — sorry about that.  That’s why Rico and I haven’t shaved, we’ve been camping all week.

You know what? We’re going to have to save your worst advice for next time, because we have audience members lined up here.

Rico Gagliano: [to audience member:] So let’s start with you, sir. What’s your name?

Sean: Hey, my name is Sean. So Michael, since you’re a certified snackologist, maybe you could provide some insight into the world of car snacks. What are your own personal etiquette rules for snacking in the car on a road trip? Nothing too messy? Nothing too audibly distracting? Nothing too odiferous? Something everyone wants to share, or individual snacks? The list goes on and on.  Help us.

Rico Gagliano: And Michael, for those who don’t know, you had a podcast called “Mike and Tom Eat Snacks.”

Brendan Francis Newnam: Yes, you are indeed a snackologist.

Michael Ian Black: I am a certified — board certified — snackologist.

Photo Credit: Jayme Halbritter
Board certified snackologist and comedian Michael Ian Black appears at the Fitzgerald Theater at DPD Live on May 9, 2015. Photo Credit: Jayme Halbritter

Brendan Francis Newnam: Not to be confused with mixologist.

Michael Ian Black: No, that’s a dumb term.

Brendan Francis Newnam: Yeah, that’s a dumb term.

Michael Ian Black: Car snacks… it depends. First of all, if it’s your car, you want to avoid chocolate. If it’s not your car, chocolate’s fine.

Assuming it’s not your car, and you’re on a long trip, essentially anything that you could find at a gas station convenience store is fair game. So, any sort of chip, any sort of pickle, any sort of week or two-week-old doughnut or confectionery…

Brendan Francis Newnam: They don’t crumble as much, so it’s great.

Michael Ian Black: Yes.  So really, anything — a quart of motor oil — anything is fine if you can find it in a gas station convenience store.

Rico Gagliano: What about beef snacks?

Michael Ian Black: What about fruit snacks?

Rico Gagliano: Beef snacks.

Michael Ian Black: Oh, beef snacks!  Yes, by far. Eat all the beef snacks you want; don’t eat any fresh fruit. Anything healthy is off the table for a car ride.

Brendan Francis Newnam: All right, well done. That’s a good question, I feel like you helped out a lot of people with that one. So, next.

Michael Ian Black: [To new audience member:] Before we continue, is that a ponytail you are sporting?

Steven: Something like that, yes.

Michael Ian Black: So, you know you’ve already broken all etiquette?

Photo Credit: Jayme Halbritter
Michael Ian Black notes ponytails are never appropriate. Photo Credit: Jayme Halbritter

Steven: I can live with that.

Michael Ian Black: I’m not here to be nice, I’m here to give advice. Sometimes it hurts.

Rico Gagliano: You’re here to tell the truth.

Brendan Francis Newnam: You’ve got to be cruel to be kind.

Steven: So the question I have is: should we applaud when performers first come to the stage, since they have not done anything yet? I thought applause was meant to be an appreciation for a performance well done.

Michael Ian Black: Right. It’s a great question. It depends on circumstance. Now, if you’re going to see a play, for example, for me I always find it distracting when an actor of some renown comes on, in character, to make his or her entrance, and the audience applauds. To me that’s a no-no.

However, there is an exception. If it’s an older actor or actress, somebody who has been around a long time, then you might want to give them the applause, because they might not make it to the end of the play.

Steven: Or even intermission.

Rico Gagliano: Get it in while you can, is what you’re saying.

Michael Ian Black: Show your appreciation of Cloris Leachman, because she’s not going to be here that much longer.

Brendan Francis Newnam: Yeah, but don’t do it too loudly or you may induce a heart attack.

Michael Ian Black: Right; you don’t want to startle her. On the other hand, if it’s a comedy performance, or a band, or something like that — where the person isn’t in character — then by all means. Like for example, when I came out and everybody gave me a standing ovation, I thought that was just great.

Rico Gagliano: Does that answer your question?

Steven: Yes it does, thank you.

Brendan Francis Newnam: That was a good question.

Genevieve: Hi.

Michael Ian Black: Hi.

Genevieve: I’m Genevieve.

Michael Ian Black: Hi Genevieve, I’m Michael.

Genevieve: Okay, my question is…

Michael Ian Black: What do you mean okay? What happened to “Minnesota nice,” geez. What’s your question Genevieve?

Genevieve: My question is: if you borrow a friend’s car and it has a near empty tank of gas, when you return it, should you fill it up? Fill it half-full? Because it sort of seems kind of like a passive-aggressive way to get your gas tank full.

Rico Gagliano: That is an evil thing to ascribe to someone who loaned you a car.

Michael Ian Black: So, you’ve borrowed the car and you’re unhappy with the amount of gas that’s in the car. You’ve said, “Can I borrow your car?” They’ve said, “Sure, Genevieve! We love you.” You get in the car, you see it’s on like a quarter tank, and you go, “Those motherfuckers!

Photo Credit: Jayme Halbritter
Brendan cracks up while Michael hilariously corrects an audience member. Photo Credit: Jayme Halbritter

Rico Gagliano: I think that’s what happened.

Michael Ian Black: Knowing you the way I do Genevieve, this is what I think you do. I think you fill the car with gas.  Then you get maybe three or four of those five gallon gas containers that you can buy.  Fill those with gas, put those in the back seat.  Then drive the car, when you return it, through their living room window, and just say, “Here!”

Rico Gagliano: That’s the polite thing to do.

Michael Ian Black: That would be the polite thing to do.

Genevieve: Thank you.

Brendan Francis Newnam: There you go.

Rico Gagliano: It’s manners. Michael Ian Black, teaching you some manners.

Zac: Hi.

Rico Gagliano: Good luck, sir.

Zac: Oh God.

Brendan Francis Newnam: No one has left the line. I’m pretty impressed.

Zac: We’re all too scared to move. So my name is Zac…

Michael Ian Black: Hi, Zac.

Zac: …From Minneapolis, hi.

Michael Ian Black: That’s how you do it Genevieve. That’s how you do it.

Zac: We’re quick learners. My question is: How does one invite Angel Olsen to join us at The Entry to see Young Fathers perform tonight?

Michael Ian Black: Oh, so wait. Young Fathers?

Rico Gagliano: It’s a band.

Michael Ian Black: Okay thanks. That’s a band, and where are they performing?

Zac: At the Seventh Street Entry. It’s in Minneapolis.

Michael Ian Black: [calling offstage:] Angel!

Zac: You guys can come if you want, but…

Michael Ian Black: I understand, but is the idea that Angel is your date?

Angel Olsen: [walking in from offstage:] I don’t know if I can do that.

Michael Ian Black:  Angel, this is Zac from Minneapolis.  Great kid.

Photo Credit: Jayme Halbritter
Michael tries to help out an audience member, but singer Angel Olsen politely declines. Photo Credit: Jayme Halbritter

Angel Olsen: You know him?

Michael Ian Black: I know him well. He knows how to say “hi” like a champ.

So there’s the band playing tonight that I can’t get enough of. They’re called the Young Fathers —

Angel Olsen: Yeah, I just heard about them.

Michael Ian Black: — Yeah. Everybody’s talking about them. They’re playing at…

Zac: The Entry.

Michael Ian Black: Which is a great place.

Zac: Tonight.

Angel Olsen: Cool. I believe you.

Michael Ian Black: And Zac wants to know if you’ll go.

Angel Olsen: Maybe.

Zac: I have a car, yeah. We have a car.

Angel Olsen: You have a car?

Zac: Yeah.

Michael Ian Black: How full is the gas tank?

Zac: Super-full!

Michael Ian Black: Okay; super-full gas tank. She’ll be there Zac, she’ll be there.

Angel Olsen: I’ll think about it. I’ll think about it.

Photo Credit: Jayme Halbritter
Photo Credit: Jayme Halbritter

 Zac: Okay. Thank you.

Brendan Francis Newnam: Thank you.

Rico Gagliano: Thanks Angel.

Brendan Francis Newnam: That was well done.

Michael Ian Black: I’m pretty smooth.

Brendan Francis Newnam: Yeah. And that was the polite way for Angel to say “No effing way.”

Sarah: Hi, I’m Sarah.

Michael Ian Black: Hi Sarah.

Sarah: I’m having my first baby…

Michael Ian Black: Congratulations!

Sarah: Thank you.

Brendan Francis Newnam: Soon there will be another young father!

Sarah: My friend is throwing me a baby shower, and I have no idea how to behave at such an event, so I’m looking for a list of dos and don’ts.

Michael Ian Black: Dos and don’ts at a baby shower. OK, so it’s your friend and she’s graciously offered to throw you the baby shower so —

Sarah: She’s here.

Michael Ian Black: — Do say [fakes enthusiasm], “Oh my God thank you so much for showing me a baby shower!!!”

Don’t have the baby at the baby shower.

Photo Credit: Jayme Halbritter
Going into labor at a baby shower is probably a baby shower don’t, says Michael. Photo Credit: Jayme Halbritter

Sarah: Got it.

Brendan Francis Newnam: Yeah, that would be rude.

Rico Gagliano: Those are pretty clear.

Michael Ian Black: Stick to those two things? I think you’ll be fine.

Sarah: Thank you.

Brendan Francis Newnam: That’s fantastic. So I’m looking at the time, I think we should do a speed round because we want to get to all of you.

Michael Ian Black: OK.

Andrew: All right. We’ll be quick. So we’ve got Amy and Andrew here from St. Paul, and we’ve just recently moved to the area. We were looking to find out… even though you don’t necessarily want a real friendship with your new neighbors, how can you express that you’re willing to get the mail or something like that when they’re out of town… but also don’t want them stopping by to chat neighborhood politics if you’re enjoying a bottle of wine on the front porch?

Michael Ian Black: I got this.

Rico Gagliano: Okay, go.

Michael Ian Black: So what you want to do is, you want to take the initiative. Make a dish and bring it over, but make it a terrible dish.

Rico Gagliano: Oh good idea.

Brendan Francis Newnam: There you go.

Michael Ian Black: “I brought you quinoa and pastrami!”