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I WAS THERE . . . Stella @ Nokia Theater 12.09.09

Michael Showalter, David Wain and Michael Ian Black are Stella Photo by Eric M. Townsend

STELLA!!! Stella, made up of Michael Showalter, David Wain and Michael Ian Black, have been making me laugh since my high school days when my friends and I would quote the funniest lines or skits from the MTV show The State, the show they got their start on. These days–instead of MTV–their act was being performed at the Nokia Theater in Times Square, but the result was the same–hysterics.

Eugene Mirman opened with a short but very funny set, poking fun at the odd multiple-choice options offered by Russian news polls and classmate.com surveys. Mirman showed a video of a hotel room he stayed at in Fargo, ND, highlighting all the objects and amenities you would expect to find in a roadside motel including his lovely view of a first floor conference room.

Showalter, Wain and Black then take the stage welcoming us with their excitement to be back in “New York Shitty,” went thru long self introductions then urged audience participation in a dance they made up called the “NY Stomp”–which kind of resembles that wedding favorite, the Alley Cat. I think I would laugh at these guys if they just stood there–the chemistry between them is so on and genuine, most likely due to their many years of friendship and partnership–but they don’t just stand there. They interact with hecklers in the audience, sing, dance, read poems, and rhyme with each other.

Their humor is off the wall and at one point each has the tech guy play their all-time favorite party jams. Showalter busts a little soft shoe like shuffle across the stage to “Celebration” by Kool and the Gang. Black does this childlike dance, waving his arms in the air wildly to “Who Let the Dogs Out,” while Wain’s party jam, “Tears in Heaven” sees him dancing and playing heavy metal air guitar before the guys fill him in that the song is about the death of Eric Clapton’s son by falling out a window–of which Wain replies, “..and into a party.” You know you shouldn’t laugh, though when put with that visual–it’s really hard not to.

At one point, David Wain calls on an understudy so he can use the bathroom and after the audience gives the stand-in an enormous round of applause, I realized it was Paul Rudd, (who was in White Hot American Summer and The Baxter with them) who fit right in, rewinding the current skit and doing Wain’s part.

The show ends with them singing Billy Joel’s “Moving Out” but they didn’t know the words and make them up as a cartoon visual on a screen behind them depicts the mistakes they are singing. It was the best rendition of a Billy Joel song I’ve ever heard.

Leslie Torre

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