After a decade of bit parts in several movies of questionable quality, a turn in the hit High Fidelity introduced movie watchers to Jack Black, whose on-screen style receives favorable comparisons to the late John Belushi.
At the same time, Black’s comedy act/rock group Tenacious D has begun to make waves with its HBO appearances and lauded live acts. Now, though still appearing mostly in supporting roles, Black commands a seven-figure salary, receiving $3 million for Shallow Hal and $2 million for Orange County.
Black has risen like a fat, hairy cannonball to the top the line in comedic stars, so perhaps the expectations ran somewhat higher than usual that a press conference with the comedian would result with plenty of off-the-cuff comments to write about.
His opening admission of “I haven’t prepared anything to say,” hardly worried the roomful of college journalists, but once the laid back Black began answering questions it became clear a person that burnt out has a hard time being funny, and has little hope of maintaining his coherency in an interview.
As the questions progressed, the reporters were learning that there was little chance of getting more than a one-word answer out of Black, and two-part questions were an impossibility. Black often blanked mid-sentence, and one reporter’s question as to whether Black was receiving more phone calls now that he had become relatively famous was only answered several minutes later while another interviewer asked his own question.
And the answers that did come were less than illuminating. Black is a man a of few words, and those words often don’t make a lot of sense. In one case, Black managed to recall only part of the difference between music and movie fans, saying that “rock is more like worship and acting is, like, I don’t know, something else.” And few answers had more detail than his explanation of how he handles touring with Tenacious D and continuing his movie career. As he so colorfully put it, “I do it really hard. As hard as I can, I do it.”
Perhaps as a result of the large number of reporters present who claimed to be “huge fans” of Black’s band, affectionately known as “the D,” Black fielded repeated requests by college journalists for Tenacious D to play at their school while managing to avoid being asked serious questions.
His fame has come quickly, and such flashes of fame often turn out to be short-lived. Black fears that he will also fall victim to this phenomena, a fear that may not be unjustified.
“Pauly Shore, he haunts me,” Black told the room. Incidentally, Black made a brief appearance with Tenacious D in what was the beginning of the end of Shore’s career, Bio Dome.
Black gives his band credit for giving a big jump start to his film career.
“Tenacious D really did get my career going,” Black said, “Before that there were some stinkers out there that I did.”
But Black acknowledges how closely related his two professions are, as he described their winning formula. His admission, perhaps is more than he had meant to give.
“There’s more theatrical elements to make up for our lack of musical talent,” he said.
His words, not mine.
This article appeared in the January 17, 2002 issue of the Hatchet.