Ingredient Four:
A final splash of Wikipedia
It has been said that writing about music is like dancing about architecture. Neither approach makes much sense. Nor does analyzing comedy. What makes a person funny? Why does he or she make you laugh? In the case of Black, you could say it’s his silly antics, his booming voice, his gut-forward posturing, his ability to raise and lower his eyebrows independently of each other. Or you could define Black’s comedic style in the way someone did on Wikipedia:

“Black’s comedic style combines many key elements from both sides of the traditional double act. Black typically begins a skit in which he presents an earnest introduction to a premise or subject that quickly reveals itself to be flawed or fundamentally ludicrous. Black then switches completely to a far-extreme caricature of human emotion.”

I read this to Black during our conversation, and it throws him completely off. I have to read it twice before he grasps that this is a real analysis of his comedic stylings, not a joke.

“Wow,” he says. “I really should do more of that double act. That sounds good.” Actually, Black figures that he might really engage in a little “far-extreme caricature of human emotion,” at least in his comedic musical career as one-half (with partner Kyle Gass) of Tenacious D. But he doubts that “the traditional double act” is what makes him funny. Then again, ask him what does make him funny and he’ll struggle to answer. After thinking about it for a while, he offers, in his über-authoritative deep voice, “I’m funny because I want to be.” Then, more seriously serious, Black adds, “It goes back to when I was a kid. I wanted people to laugh. I was not always getting laughs, though. It was the desire to get laughs that got me to figure out ways to get them. And that’s something I’m still trying to do.”

JOE GUINTO imagined himself as a black-and-white furry panda while writing this story. We’re serious.