Stella (2005) Episodes 1-5

Stella, the TV series based on the 3-man comedy troupe of the same name, ran for one season on Comedy Central before being cancelled. It starred Michael Ian Black, Michael Showalter, and David Wain, who previously appeared in MTV’s The State and Wet Hot American Summer. Despite being cancelled, they’ve garnered a cult following and continue to perform live, as well as collaborate on other projects. All three are set to star in the Netflix adaptation of Wet Hot American Summer, written by Wain.

Right away, it’s clear that their style of comedy is not for everyone. As Black puts it, their characters are “gleefully ignorant”–acting childlike, dancing, and doing most activities in suits. Black is the sinister one, Showalter the emotional, and Wain is usually left out by the others. Their formula works well, especially when dealing with the reactions of normal people.

In the first episode Black threatens “If you don’t stop that, I’ll drive this car right off that cliff!” and proceeds to do exactly that. Throughout Stella’s adventures, they dance frequently, break the fourth wall, and engage in very hammy drama. The main premise is that the characters are over-dramatic and stupid, as well as lifelong friends.

Notable guest stars include Edward Norton, Janeane Garofalo, Paul Rudd and Alan Ruck. My only complaints here are that some scenes drag on too long, and the music becomes repetitive very quickly. It isn’t the most straight-forward or fast-paced comedy, but it’s still very enjoyable. Obscure, but a must see.

Black and Showalter star in Comedy Central’s Michael & Michael Have Issues. Black has seen a bit more popularity, appearing in VH1’s I Love the 80’s, as well as the Adult Swim show You’re Whole, and guest stars on Maron, among others.

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