Michael Ian Black kicks off Very Famous with a dig at Philadelphia the very city he’s recording his special in. It’s a bold move to pull off in a city known for having unruly fans; shit, they even once booed Santa Claus for the hell of it.
But Black is unfazed by this fact and goes for the joke and gets the laugh. It would be the first of many, but the joke sets the tone for the night in which black rails against shitty travelers, terrible dogs, and his unyielding desire to not be considered a pussy.
On characteristic I’ve always appreciated about Black is his ability to say the ridiculous with sarcastic wit and a smirk. It’s arrogance with a hint of a character at the same time. In fact the very name of Very Famous serves a double metaphor – Black’s self-deprecation runs a string of shows you might remember him from – “Cancelled,” Comedy Central presents “No Longer On The Air,” and “Two and A Half Episodes.” While at the same time telling us of his great comic prowess via a sharp quip to a traveler’s ridiculous question.
And if Black is to be great, so must his offspring. A story about Halloween with his children is the perfect blend of Father Ian Black training them in their greatness by critiquing their poor costume decisions juxtaposed with the trudges of simple suburban life like chore of actually having to escort them to gather their candy.
Two of the most animated tales on the album include a hilarious attempt to look cool while skydiving with “the guys,” a feat that ends badly, then gets worse. He also manages to deconstruct just exactly the right stance one takes while prepping for the doctor to examine his rectum. Though the bit doesn’t end with the obvious a “Rectum! Nearly killed him!” joke, it serves as a strong finish for an album full of strong material.
Michael Ian Black hasn’t had much success with TV shows over the years, he’s the first to admit it on Very Famous. However, as a stand-up comedian he’s shining brightly. He may be available for parts in TV and roles but he looks and sounds pretty damn comfortable on the stage with a microphone.