The University of Maine student newspaper since 1875
Wednesday, Oct. 7, 3:46 p.m.

Comedians Birbiglia, Black perform separate sets, Q-A

Derrick Rossignol

The Collins Center for the Arts stage played host to premiere stand-up comedians Mike Birbiglia and Michael Ian Black Wednesday night for a double-headlining event.

Black, known for his various sketch groups and TV shows like “Stella” and “Michael and Michael Have Issues,” performed first. He spent a couple of minutes lampooning the introduction given by Assistant Vice President of Student Entertainment Sarah Goode, which he thought was lackluster.

“At least most girls fake it,” Black said.

Black wondered why there is a concentration of people in Orono and asked, “Why are you here? What do you do? Is it a school?”

When he launched into his set, he recalled an unpleasant experience he had with a clogged hotel toilet after “[taking] a good old-fashioned poo.”

“It’s like my own Hurricane Katrina, only it’s worse than Hurricane Katrina because it was happening to me,” he said.

Black said he left the hotel and went “to Starbucks for eight hours,” hoping the situation would resolve itself. He hoped not to be confronted about the situation, but if he was, he planned to say “‘I have cancer,’ and […] run away.”

Black recalled a time when he was waiting for a flight at an airport and was asked by a woman if he thought they would be boarding soon. Before telling the crowd how he responded, he told them to consider the speed with which he responded to her question before revealing that he replied, “Not unless we’re flying in Wonder Woman’s invisible jet.”

He then described the look the woman gave him through a series of disgusted faces and progressively longer groans. Black said he told the woman that he is a comedian and, “The way I see it, you owe me some money, b—-.”

Black added, “I did say that, and that woman was my wife.”

Black also talked about a time when he was at a restaurant and the waitress claimed, “We can make any kind of pizza you want.”

He saw that as an “opportunity to be hilarious” and again, before revealing what he said, he discussed the quickness of his response and the options he had. He decided to be subtle and sarcastic by saying, “Really, any kind of pizza I want? How about pepperoni?”

When the waitress responded, “Yeah, we can make pepperoni,” Black was unsure “who’s f—ing with who.”

Black discussed some of the good alternatives to semen, like Dr. Pepper, and some of the less desirable options, like BBs, wasabi and a pinecone. After pantomiming the act of ejaculating a pinecone, he tossed the fictitious pinecone to an audience member who Black claimed crushed it.

“I’ll make you another one,” Black said as he proceeded to produce another pinecone and toss it to her. He then pulled a dollar out of his wallet and gave it to her to thank her for doing a good job with the pinecone.

Talking about how some alcoholic drinks are named after people, he expressed his desire to have a drink called the Michael Ian Black, which would be an Ambien dipped in Cool Whip. That reminded him of a game he claims to play called “Ambien racing.”

To play, you must be driving and wait until you’re 15 or 20 minutes from your destination, then you “take an Ambien and try to beat it.”

Black also talked about his honeymoon in Amsterdam, getting high as a parent, how rock band Creed changed his life, and shaking and throwing babies.

Three-time Comedy Central special star Birbiglia, who also wrote, directed and starred in the movie “Sleepwalk with Me,” opened his set by talking about the effigy of the hanging fake referee that the student section displays at University of Maine men’s hockey games. He said the impression it gives him is, “If things don’t go our way, maybe we’ll kill the ref.”

He also talked about the public perception of being killed by a bear versus that of being killed by a police officer.

“If a bear kills you, there’s public outrage,” Birbiglia said. “If a cop kills you, everybody’s like, ‘It’s a pretty tough job.’”

Birbiglia reminisced about a time he was arrested for driving with a license he didn’t know was suspended. He said he was taken to the police station and his shoelaces were taken away from him as a safety precaution.

“Apparently it’s a common thing that people hang themselves when they have their licenses suspended,” he said. “It’s called suspension post-suspension.”

He also talked about his appearance on “Last Call with Carson Daly” on the same night actor James Van Der Beek was on the show, whom Birbiglia had been told he resembled.

“If you were going to peg me, I’m a cross between Matt Damon and Bill O’Reilly,” he said.

Birbiglia talked about “Sleepwalk with Me” and asked if it was playing anywhere in the Orono area, to which an audience member responded that it played at a theater in Waterville.

“I love Waterville,” Birbiglia responded. “I love water, I love towns! Are there any other vague places or buildings that might not be real?”

After an audience member shouted, “Thorndike,” Birbiglia said, “I love being stuck by large thorns and using homophobic slurs.”

Lastly, Birbiglia recalled an incident on a plane involving a passenger with a nut allergy. Birbiglia was eating a sandwich that had nuts on the bread, so the crew was insistent that he either not eat the sandwich or eat it in the bathroom.

He went to the bathroom only to realize that he had a “fecal airspace allergy” and felt he should be accommodated similarly to the passenger with the nut allergy.

After Birbiglia’s set, Black returned to the stage and both comedians participated in a Q-and-A session with the audience.

Before taking questions, Black and Birbiglia briefly discussed the presidential election. “Politics reveal who you are and some people are douchebags,” Birbiglia said.

One audience member mentioned that Black’s show “Stella” has gained a larger fan base after its television run and asked if a revival of the show was planned. Black responded, saying, “You’ve just perfectly surmised my career to this point.”

Referring to the fans who started watching the program when it was no longer on television, Black said, “Thank you, but you didn’t watch it, because if you had, I wouldn’t be here performing in Orono, Maine.”

Another audience member asked Birbiglia what he misses the most about “living in a storefront window,” referring to an ad campaign he participated in for Downy in which he slept in a Macy’s store window for a week. He said there was a curtain drawn at night to keep the light out, but passersby who were skeptical about Birbiglia’s presence would bang on the window late at night and prevent him from sleeping.

Black was asked about his preparation for his sex scene with Bradley Cooper in the movie “Wet Hot American Summer.”

“My preparation was gazing lovingly into his eyes,” Black said. “That’s all the prep I needed.”

When asked if he discussed it with his wife, Black said, “If she wants to eat, I’m going to f— Bradley Cooper.”

Birbiglia laughed and added, “Put that in your f—ing newspaper!”

Despite the popularity of the two comedians, only 230 tickets were sold, leaving the balcony and about half of the floor level unoccupied. This made the event far less attended than the stand-up comedy performances earlier this school year by Gabriel Iglesias and Bangor-native Bob Marley.