“The State” and “Wet Hot American Summer” star Michael Ian Black gets in on the YouTube generation’s fun with “SMOSH: The Movie,” playing eccentric billionaire villain Steve YouTube, who sends the SMOSH guys (Ian Hecox and Anthony Padilla) literally into the Internet to try to undo an embarrassing viral video. And Black, as it turns out, has a handy trick for playing that type of character.
How familiar were you with the whole SMOSH thing before this?
Zero. I was aware zero.
So how did they explain it to you?
Well, I mean, it’s easy to explain. Once I’d heard of it, I understood it immediately. They’re a comedy duo who are extremely popular on Facebook. And my son knew all about them. And because my son and I don’t speak, that’s why I hadn’t heard of them before.
Has this created a chance for some sort of reconciliation?
It has. It’s the only thing that’s brought my son and I together. Things are going much better now. Much, much better, all thanks to SMOSH.
How do you get into the head space of a character like Steve YouTube?
You just act a little bit like a dick, and that’s easy for me. I’m just wired to be a little bit of a dick.
It works for you, I think.
Thanks. (laughs) I’ve based an entire career on it.
What do you make of the whole YouTube thing?
Well, I certainly support the ability to create content and put it out there and have people watch it, and YouTube is the premium platform for that. So I guess I’m a big fan.
If you’d had this kind of platform like this when you were starting out with “The State,” how different do you think things would have been?
Probably much different. I can’t say they’d be better or worse, but the ability to just create stuff and find an audience so easily probably would have changed everything — in terms of what we did, how we did it. But who knows what the result of that would’ve been, whether it would’ve been better or worse.
You could argue a lot of the popular YouTube stuff owes a lot to “The State.”
Unquestionably, nobody would be where they are were it not for me. I mean me singularly. Just me.
That’s fair. Very humble.
I’m trying to keep it as modest as I possibly can.
You’ve got a lot of TV projects going right now. Why are you on everything?
Well, I’m on three. And it’s a result of probably poor or maybe good timing and not any resurgence or renaissance in my career. I don’t think. I think my career is still safely in the toilet. That’s the hope.
Is that where you’re looking to stay?
Well, it’s comfortable.