Please explain what just happened.

I went out to get the newspaper, and the guy hadn’t come.


What is your earliest memory?

Coming downstairs from my bedroom into the kitchen where my mother was. Captain Kangaroo was on the television, and my mother said, “What are you doing up?” In retrospect, if she didn’t expect me up, why was Captain Kangaroo on the TV?


If you weren’t a writer, comedian, and actor, what other profession would you choose?

I would figure out a way to collect disability payments from the government.


Describe a typical work day.

Get up, get the paper – WHICH IS SUPPOSED TO BE HERE ALREADY – drink tea, read it, take a shower, fire up the computer, write, email, Twitter, email, write, Twitter, lunch, write, Twitter, see what my wife is doing, stall, write, Twitter, pretzels.


Is there a time you wish you’d lied?

When agreeing to answer to these questions?


What would you say to yourself if you could go back in time and have a conversation with yourself at age thirteen?

I’d say, “Dermatologists can treat that.”


If you could have only one album to get you through a breakup, what would it be?

I might go with Bob Dylan’s Blood on the Tracks.


What are three websites—other than your email—that you check on a daily basis?

Huffington Post, CNN, Popurls



From what or whom do you derive your greatest inspiration?

The work of my peers.


Name three books that have impacted your life.

The World According to Garp by John Irving, The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen, What it Takes by Richard Ben Cramer.


If you could relive one moment over and over again, what would it be?

That night I took E with my wife.


How are you six degrees from Kevin Bacon?

I don’t know. It’s probably less than six degrees, but I will leave it to better minds than mine to figure it out.


What makes you feel most guilty?

When my professional schedule conflicts with personal obligations.


How do you incorporate the work of other artists into your own?

Microsoft Word has a “cut” function and a “paste” function.



Please explain the motivation/inspiration behind You’re Not Doing It Right: Tales of Marriage, Sex, Death, and Other Humiliations.

A desire to write something personal, cohesive, funny, and honest.


What is the best advice you’ve ever given to someone else?

There is only one professional piece of advice worth giving, which is this: if you want to do something, do it.


List your favorite in the following categories:  Comedian, Musician, Author, Actor

Comedian — Richard Pryor

Musician — Husker Dü

Author — Michael Lewis

Actor — Maggie Smith



If you had complete creative license and an unlimited budget, what would your next project be?

I’d like to make a movie with my friends.


What do you want to know?

What’s for lunch?


What would you like your last words to be?

“Oh God, don’t unplug me.”


Please explain what will happen.

We’re all going to die.


MICHAEL IAN BLACK is a writer, comedian, and actor who has created and starred in many television series including Michael and Michael Have Issues, Stella, and The State. He also starred in the NBC television show Ed and on Vh1’s I Love The… series. He wrote the screenplay for the film Run, Fatboy, Run and wrote and directed the film Wedding Daze. Black regularly tours the country as a stand-up comedian and is the bestselling author of the book My Custom Van (and 50 Other Mind-Blowing Essays That Will Blow Your Mind All Over Your Face), the forthcoming I’m Bored, and the children’s books Chicken Cheeks, The Purple Kangaroo, and A Pig Parade is a Terrible Idea.

In You’re Not Doing It Right: Tales of Marriage, Sex, Death, and Other Humiliations, Black takes on his childhood, his marriage, his children, and his career with unexpected candor and deadpan wit in this funny-because-it’s-true essay collection.

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TNB's ARTS & CULTURE section features essays, reviews, and interviews in the world of film, television, visual, comedy, and theater arts. Cynthia Hawkins serves as our Arts & Culture Editor.

2 responses to “21 Questions with Michael Ian Black”

  1. Carly says:

    Loved it! I love the title of Black’s book and I’m really interested to give the audio book a listen during a car trip I’m taking across Florida in July. It’s funny that I keep hearing about this book since next week its being featured on this great AM talk radio literary show I try to keep up with called The Book Report — its aired locally here in Chicago on WIND, but you can also stream it from the Book Report’s wesbite as well. The host, Elaine Charles, always seems to pick the most interesting books and I’m glad she’s including this one.

  2. bílé víno,červené víno,vinařství,moravské vína…

    […]TNB A&C | 21 Questions with Michael Ian Black | The Nervous Breakdown[…]…

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