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Hey Stella! Being just as absurd as you want to be

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Sketch comedy troupe Stella -- a trio of comedians who have jettisoned sensical plots and punchlines in favor of a fast-paced barrage of absurdity – is quintessentially Williamsburg. Jokes with set-ups and pay-offs don't work for Williamsburg – it's too conventional, too linear, too much about something. Anything in Williamsburg – the young Williamsburg, the Ellis Island for artistic emigres from the Midwest – always has a faint underlying silliness, a willful perversity. Really, have you ever seen anyone open a shop you would consider serious on Bedford in the last five years? No, so what's funny in Williamsburg is something that heaps absurdity upon an already absurd canvas. Two of the odd geniuses behind Stella, the short-lived MTV series The State, and several other similarly-minded fonts of ridiculous, Michael Showalter and Michael Ian Black will be appearing at the Music Hall of Williamsburg on January 26. From descriptions of other shows, the pair – Brooklyn residents since the late nineties – have been performing together over the last year, you can expect them to run through bits from their recent solo comedy albums "I am A Wonderful Man" by Black and "Sandwiches & Cats" by Showalter, as well as sketches from their various comedy troupes, as well as new material. While maintaining a loyal fan base of young Brooklynites and the like-minded, Black and Showalter have seen their projects marked by mixed critical and commercial success. In addition to The State, the duo, with fellow alum David Wain, created sketch-comedy group Stella in 1997, which produced a series of popular underground shorts marked by nonsensical plots and a fascination with dildos, as well as similarly minded live shows. In 2005 they were given a television series on Comedy Central which was quickly canceled after a summer run. Lately the two have been finding solo projects to keep them busy. Michael Ian Black, familiar to audiences from his appearances on VH1's "I Love The..." series, in which he mock celebrity foibles from a seated position, is likely the better known of the two and has been receiving steady bit part film work. He will be appearing in the comedy "Kids in America" with Topher Grace and Anna Farris, to be released in March. Michael Showalter has recently been seen hosting the Charlie-Rose-on-Dexdrine talk show The Michael Showalter Showalter [sic] for collegehumor.com, in which the titular host chats up like-minded comedians such as Andy Samberg and Zack Galifinakis and strangeness ensues. Again, a talk show would be too serious for Young Brooklyn - it has to be a talk show intercut with the host and the actor re-enacting a cult favorite YouTube video of a famous filmmaker yelling at his star, as Showalter does when he interviews actor Paul Rudd. The two have made one film together, the love-it-passionately-or-don't-get-it-at-all-and-hate-it Wet Hot American Summer, a spoof of sorts about that small genre of films about summer camp that will be found on every fourth DVD shelf in every cool Brooklyn loft. The film was poorly received by critics – Roger Ebert bypassed thumbs altogether and extended the middle finger of a single star review – but has found tremendous popularity on DVD, the sort of film that becomes cultish among certain groups on tony younger art-types, who can't stand punch-lines. Tickets for their show are $22 in advance and on the day of the show, although limited seating is available. You must be older than 18 to get in. The doors open at 8 p.m., the show starts at 9 p.m. The Music Hall of Williamsburg is located at 66 North Sixth St. For more information, and to purchase tickets, go to musichallofwilliamsburg.com.

Updated 6:58 pm, October 10, 2011
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