And by MIB I mean of course Michael Ian Black, star of screens big and small.
Earlier today, to promote his new book You’re Not Doing It Right, Michael Ian Black did a reading at the Brookline Booksmith (though it was really at the Coolidge Corner Theater since the Booksmith is tiny and cannot hold the multitudes who wanted to listen to Mr. Black.
The reading, which was really more of a casual Q&A session, began with MIB announcing that he always thought of himself as being an “unrepentant fornicator of women” and this book involved him coming to terms with the lack of reality in that statement, followed by his reading off the following tweet…and then retweeting it:
This set the tone for the next hour.
Unlike his other books including My Custom Van, You’re Not Doing it Right isn’t a collection of amusing essays. It’s really a memoir of his childhood, with a focus on his marriage. While he was funny as always, discussing his life Mr. Black became a bit more thoughtful and contemplative. He said that although he sees this book as a serious book with jokes, he’s sure that it will be perceived as a funny book with some serious parts.
The chapter from which he read was called “I hate my baby”. Both of his children were colicky and his analogy of feeling “awake eight months out of the past four” is an incredibly apt description. He pulls no punches and fully admits that his children were dicks when they were babies and being a parent is like being in Abu Ghraib…but worse. Mr. Black clearly loves his wife and his children very much, but seems to want to paint a realistic portrait of a marriage and of a family, while maintaining his extremely entertaining view on things.
After the short reading, he opened up the floor to questions, frequently calling upon people by just looking at them and saying “hi”. The questions ranged from “Have you and Marc Maron buried the hatchet?” following up on the contentious conversation from Maron’s WTF podcast to “Is it awkward now with you and Bradley Cooper?” with whom MIB made sweet sweet love in the cult classic, Wet Hot American Summer. (NOTE: below video probably not all that safe for work)
He answered questions about his history as a director, about MATES his podcast with Tom Cavanagh, about his time with Stella and The State, and that the one thing his wife objected to in his book that really surprised him was his recollection that on their honeymoon in Amsterdam she ordered a banana and nutella crepe when that is clearly not food an adult would eat. Throughout it all, he kept repeating the central theme of the book, that he had to learn that the person you think you are is not the person you actually are — and that he had to be OK with that.
He also talked a bit about the book he’s currently writing with Meghan McCain. The book will focus on their cross-country RV road trip from this past summer. Despite her being a young and blonde Republican and his being an older and Jewish Liberal, he said they had a lot more in common than one might have thought. This book shouldn’t be too much of a surprise to anyone who has been following Mr. Black’s twitter feed, which have become more political lately. His back and forths over the recent Rush Limbaugh vileness are particularly on point.
The Q&A ended with the one question that always shows up in situations like these, “Do you have any advice for young comic/artist/writer/actor/juggler?” Mr. Black answered this with class, as if it wasn’t something he was asked at every reading. He said what so many have said before him “Do what you want to do and do it often” and be prepared to fail and keep on going. His encouragement was to develop your own voice and by doing so you’ll eventually figure it out. All good ideas to put into practice by those of us who need encouragement.
Although it wasn’t my original intent, I ended up buying the book and jumping in line to get it signed. My friend went before me and told him about the first time she actually met him on an airplane 12 years prior. He never made her feel silly for doing that. When it was my turn, all I could come up with was the fact that I was an Ed (an amazing show that more people should have watched) fan from the very start and that I was impressed he spelled my name right. Yes, I wowed him with my brilliance and wit.
Then my friend and I went out for fish tacos. Which is just how Michael Ian Black would have wanted it.