On their new sketch comedy show, Michael & Michael Have Issues (premieres Wednesday, 10:30 pm/ET, Comedy Central), Michael Showalter and Michael Ian Black play fictional versions of themselves.
"There's that actor's cliché: 'My character wouldn't do that,'" says Black. "Well, in this case, we say, 'I wouldn't do that.'"
Michael & Michael is a mix of live stand-up comedy, prerecorded sketches and a third element, which Showalter calls the "narrative." It's here that we go behind the scenes of a show-within-the show, where the faux Showalter and Black have epic backstage battles that mostly center on their two overfed egos.
In the episode the network sent to critics, fake-Showalter and fake-Black torture a journalist who is assigned to profile them. How meta, I think, as I gingerly lift the receiver to call them. What have I gotten myself into?
But Black tells me not to worry. "That was our fictional selves," he says with a reassuring tone, and it's clear they like blurring the line between the two. "[Showalter] and I just both like playing ourselves and then also these big, silly, dumb characters."
Does anything ever cut too close to the truth, or get too real? Black responds with an unprintable filthy joke. It's unclear whether real-Black is teasing real-Showalter, or whether their fictional alter egos are just torturing another reporter.