Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
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Tuesday, July 08, 2008

On The Shelf with Michael Ian Black

Michael Ian Black is one of the funniest people in America,bar none. If you only know him as the guy who shows up on those VH-1 "I Love The(insert decade of your choice)" shows or the occasional soda commercial,you haven't even scratched the surface of his comic genius.

Black splashed onto the pop culture scene years ago,with the too good for school MTV skit series The State,along with other talented friends such as Kerri Kenney and Thomas Lennon who he later teamed up with for Viva Variety along with Michael Showalter and David Wain,who later formed the comic troupe Stella,which had a brief run on Comedy Central.

He's also appeared in films like the cult classic "Wet Hot American Summer","The Baxter" and "The Ten" and several TV shows,this year doing a stint on Reaper with fellow State player Ken Marino(who is also a Veronica Mars alumnus). Black also has written both for film and TV,with his most recent screenplay being for "Run,FatBoy ,Run" that starred Simon Pegg this past spring.

About to hit bookstores everywhere this month is his first collection of essays entitled "My Custom Van:And 50 Other Mind Blowing Essays That Will Blow Your Mind All Over Your Face",which should surely give current best-selling essayist David Sedaris a real run for his money. I consider myself most fortunate to have been able to ask Michael Ian Black a few questions regarding his new book,Reaper and the fate of the much anticipated DVD set of The State:

1) Were the challenges you faced in writing this book different or similar to the ones you've dealt with when writing for film or TV?

The book was actually considerably easier, if only because there was no bureaucracy involved. With TV and film, you write something, then fifteen people have to approve it - which is also a reason why so much of television and film is bad. On the other hand, I'm not used to writing all by myself, so I had to invent an imaginary friend to help get me through the day. His name was Reggie, and he was a very pleasant man from Alberta, Canada.

2)If a person was allowed to only read one of the essays in your new book,My Custom Van,which one would you choose for them and why?

Maybe the essay, "What I Would Be Thinking About If I Were Billy Joel Driving To A Holiday Party Where I Knew There Was Going To Be A Piano." Not only is it funny, but it's extremely educational. After all, this is probably the only essay published this year that gives you Billy Joel's thoughts as they happen. You can't get much more educational than that.

3)Who are your favorite writers,both in the field of humor and other genres as well?

I'm not a big fan of humor writing in general. That may sound odd coming from somebody who writes it for a living, but I rarely look to books for funny. In general, I've read a lot of John Irving, David McCullough, and David Halberstam.

4)Will die hard fans of The State have much longer to wait for the official DVD set?

I have no idea. The DVDs exist, they are finished, but they haven't been released. The State is reforming to do a special for Comedy Central, so they might release all of it at once. Or they might not.

5)You teamed with one of your former State co-stars,Ken Marino,for several episodes of Reaper this year. Were the two of you cast at the same time or was it just a lucky coincidence?

No, the casting people knew we were friends and thought it would be fun to cast us together as gay demons. It was great fun working with Ken, except for his habit of constantly exfoliating wherever we went. He exfoliates a lot.

6) Despite what ultimately happened to your character on the show,is there any chance of you appearing on Reaper next season?

I'm not sure. They killed me, then brought me back for an episode, so it's possible they might be bring me back again. I don't know. If they do, great. If not, I'll just starve to death.

7)How do you feel about your book going up against the new David Sedaris essay collection?

Sedaris (or "Spedaris" as I call him to get under his skin) has an obvious advantage over me: he has consistently been on the best-seller lists for years, he has won tons of awards, he lives a glamorous life in France, and his frequent appearances on NPR make him the darling of the intelligencia. On the other hand, I can barely string a sentence together and spend my off-hours doing soda pop commercials. I think I will kick his ass.

My heartfelt thanks to Michael Ian Black for sharing his thoughts with us and to everyone else out there,My Custom Van will be on sale July 15,only a couple of days before The Dark Knight hits theaters which should give you plenty of time to buy as many copies as you can carry with you to read while waiting for your ticket at the multiplex(pass them out to your fellow movie-goers as a public service!).

To whet your appetite for My Custom Van,here's a sample of what's in store for your reading pleasure:


Ladytink_534 said...

Hmm he looks familiar, but I don't really know his work. You're right though, he is odd but funny! I like the Reaper clips. I really hope he comes to Biloxi soon and does a show!

lady t said...

Well,I did check MIB's book tour information and I'm afraid he's not scheduled to be in your area:( A good way to check out his work is to rent Stella on DVD(Comedy Central released it)-that show was insanely odd and fun to watch.

Oh,and Black also made an appearance on the Tom Goes To The Mayor series,which I think is also on DVD as well.