Michael Ian Black I Am a Wonderful Man (Live)
- Released: September 25, 2007
- Label: Comedy Central
- 2.Satanic Messages
- 4.New Orleans
- 5.Billboards and Bumper Stickers
- 9.Married With Children
- 10.Walk It Off
- 11.Captain's Blog
Recording information: Lakeshore Theater, Chicago, IL (07/2007).
From his straight-faced commentary in VH1's I Love the Eighties to his roles in several movies, Michael Ian Black has risen to the inner circle of modern-day comedians. Other members of The State may be similarly popular in their own field, but Black's popularity extends well beyond the loyal audiences of Comedy Central. This, of course, puts him on an even playing field with standup kingpin Dane Cook, whose sex-fueled zingers have already presented Comedy Central Records with two album entries in the Billboard Top Ten. Cook's standup routine translates well to CD, where his supercharged presence still shines, but Black makes a rougher transition on his debut. I Am a Wonderful Man boasts the usual brand of Black humor, including swipes at the Nazi party (who are likened to the B-52's' "Rock Lobster") and the wearisome institution of marriage ("married -- or, as I like to call it -- 'pre-divorced'"). There's plenty of hilarity here, to be sure, but Black's aloof delivery simply doesn't read as well as it does on TV. He's a visual comic -- not someone who specializes in slapstick, but rather a comedian whose facial expressions are as integral to his jokes as the material itself. To illustrate that point, observe the album's superb packaging: a misty-eyed Black posing beside a bush on the front cover, a Disney-approved picture on the back (including a cartoon bird perched atop Black's extended finger), and -- the crown jewel of the digipack -- a foldout (dare we say centerfold?) of Mr. Black, naked, resting seductively on a bearskin rug alongside several well-placed glasses of wine. The amusing packaging is testament to his comic capabilities; he just needs a camera lens to bring that potential fully out. And while several tracks on I Am a Wonderful Man do rival Stella and The State for some of Black's best moments, his CD debut is largely an appetizer for the meaty performances of those television shows. ~ Andrew Leahey
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