I Want My $40, Mr. VH1

I’ve been watching the occasional episode of I Love the 80s: Strikes Back on VH1. It’s surprising how much stuff I forgot about the 80s, even though I lived through them. If you haven’t seen the show, the basic format is this. An 80s person/event/video/fad/whatever is brought up and various actors, musicians, and comedians talk about said thing. It is at least somewhat more amusing than it sounds. Anyhow, one of the guys on this show is Michael Ian Black. He’s apparently on that show Ed, which I’ve never seen. Anyhow, he’s all over this show (and the I Love the 70s one too). I watching him and thinking, “I know this guy from somewhere.” It nags me, but I can’t figure it out.

A few weeks ago the local Seattle arts paper had an ad for upcoming appearance from a comedy group whose name escapes me. Michael Ian Black was part of the group and under his name it says, “From MTV’s the State.” That rings a bell. The State was a comedy group that got its start at NYU while I was going there. In fact, one of my old roommates had been in the State. I wondered if this was the same guy. He seemed familiar but the name was all wrong.

Well, thank god for obsessive internet fans. I found a history of the State website that chronicled the group back to its genesis, going so far as to specify the dates of when they played at Judson Hall and the like. This site noted that back then Michael Ian Black was known as Michael Schwartz. That’s when the bells went off. Michael Schwartz, that was my fucking roommate. He seemed sort of familiar to me because I lived with him for nine months! Imagine that.

This was my junior year at NYU and I was living in Hayden Hall, a dorm right on Washington Square. I had a single room that year, but it was within a larger suite. I shared a kitchen and bathroom with Schwartz and this guy Rick (who’s last name I’ve forgotten). We also shared a phone and it was in my name. Big mistake. End of the year comes, both Rick and Mike tell me they’ll send me checks for the last months phone bill. What do you know both those assholes stiffed me. I never saw either of them again.

If he comes to Seattle again, I think I may crash his gig. I’m sure he’d be perplexed if someone started shouting out, “I want my $40, Mr. VH1!” In the meantime I can comfort myself with this thought: he may have ripped me off for $40 but he had to listen to me have sex all year long while his girlfriend was in New Jersey. Touché.

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