Comedian Michael Ian Black brings his dry wit, wisdom to SF 

Few comedians deploy deadpan delivery better than Michael Ian Black, the ubiquitous television presence whose work with the comedy troupe The State in the early 1990s helped define a generation of skewed sketch comedy. So it should have been no surprise to hear his response to a question about his stand-up show at the Chapel on Sunday in San Francisco.

“Not really sure,” Black said, when asked what attendees should expect at his performance. “I’ll probably just spend an hour talking about abortion.”

Black has made a career of speaking in faux-genuine guises about issues that are mundane or ridiculous — appearances doing just that on VH1’s “I Love The …” series may have raised his profile more than groundbreaking contributions to The State or his short-lived (but beloved) sketch comedy show “Stella” on Comedy Central.

He continues in that vein with his latest endeavor, a podcast called “Topics” that airs on

Along with longtime comic partner Michael Showalter, Black discusses at length and with great alacrity issues that probably wouldn’t get most people’s pulses pounding. In a recent podcast, he detailed his devotion to President Franklin Pierce.

“The podcast is kind of making fun of these banal, inane and over-intellectual discussions that are really the most cliched thing in the world. We kind of think it’s funny that people are getting their minds blown by things that have been discussed literally 15,000 times before,” Black says.

Though keen on pointing out the humor in people waxing poetic over rote topics, Black himself is not immune to a little grandstanding: “Oh, I think I’m guilty of it, too. I know a lot of people who are as well, which is probably why I’m drawn to this kind of thing,” he says.

And while the absurdist nature of The State’s comedy is seeping its way into mainstream pop culture via conduits such as Zach Galifianakis and Judd Apatow films, Black is likely to remain a figure with a devoted, albeit niche, following. He doubts he’s going to win over new fans with his podcast about issues, but he still takes great enjoyment in chumming it up with Showalter.

“The humor is that there is no humor in the podcast, so I don’t think this is the best introduction for people who don’t know us,” Black said. “But with an audio podcast, there are no real constraints, so it provides a pretty great venue for Michael and I to just riff about these discussions. We’ve been doing this same exact thing for years. The only difference now is that we’re being recorded.”


Michael Ian Black

Where: Chapel, 777 Valencia St., S.F.

When: 9 p.m. Sunday

Tickets: $25

Contact: (415) 551-5157,

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Will Reisman

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