For some inexplicable reason, MTV refuses to release The State — the seminal mid-nineties sketch comedy show that has quietly produced more American comedic talent from one cast than SNL has in the last ten — on DVD. Luckily for its fans, principals Michael Ian Black and Michael Showalter continue to tap the lovably oddball, absurdist edges of comedy onstage (Stella), screen (Stella, Wet Hot American Summer, Showalter's semi-underrated 2005 film The Baxter) and the Web (the Charlie Rose–baiting Michael Showalter Showalter on CollegeHumor.com) that made The State a cult hit for MTV in the first place.
At a sold-out Irving Plaza on Saturday, Showalter and Black, on tour in support of their respective debut albums, filled up two and a half hours with more dick jokes than you'd expect from successful indie comedians. Showalter began the evening with a laptop slideshow of this week's Time Out New York preview of the Irving Plaza show (from Time Out's TOC: "See that asshole tourist from Connecticut? It's Michael Ian Black p. 93"), weaving iTunes American Idol sing-alongs and online Scrabble challenges alongside more traditional stand-up pieces (hotel smells, airport security, Ambien) into his hour-long set, with some tossed off politics mixed in. (Showalter on Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney: "His name is Mitt — Mitt! — let's start there.")
Black went the traditional stand-up route — no laptop, no iTunes — lamenting his kids' Halloween costumes (biggest shocker of the night: he's married, and not gay, with kids) and deftly handling hecklers wanting live State skits performed on demand ("What exactly did you think was gonna happen?"). And just when Black's shtick began to sound tired, he pulled out a series of letters written to "the first girl I ever fingered," building to the climactic fingering of her corpse. Good night, everybody! —Dylan Stableford