This week I’ve spent my morning commute time on the B62 reading Michael Ian Black’s new memoir You’re Not Doing It Right and laughing out loud with impunity. You see, Black’s new book inspires this kind of public behavior. Thoughtful, incredibly honest, and hilarious all at the same time, you will most likely see yourself in many of the chapters with titles like “I Love You Two” (about taking the dive into your first big time committed relationship) and “F*** You, Alan Alda” (about questionable 1970s parenting practices). This sketch comedy artist, actor, pop culture commentator, and writer known for his deadpan delivery actually does have emotions, conflicting ones he explores with great humor.
I stopped in at Word Brooklyn this past Wednesday night where Black sat down with conservative blogger/Twitterer Meghan McCain (not a typo) to talk about this book and the one they are currently writing together, America, You Sexy Bitch. I asked Black a few questions before the event.
HWF: This is the kickoff for your book tour, right?
MIB: Essentially, yes. I did a small thing last night in New Jersey, but I’m not counting it.
HWF: Why choose Word?
MIB: My publicist picked it, I had nothing to do with it [Note to self: Writers with publicists don’t organize their own book tours]. But I wish I could take credit for it, it’s a lovely bookstore. I think she picked it because it’s just a good, indie bookstore.
HWF: Do you have a connection to Brooklyn?
MIB: I’ve shot a lot in Greenpoint. I shot my series Stella here so I’ve spent a fair amount of time here.
Heidi: You’ve pulled off so many different things in your career — sketch comedy, acting, you’ve written books. Why title your newest book You’re Not Doing It Right?
MIB: The book is less about my career, it has nothing to do with my career, and everything to do with my marriage, and being a father and feeling somewhat incompetent in those pursuits, and I don’t often recognize the person who is living the suburban life that I am living. I sort of envisioned myself living in some place like Greenpoint, and you know, having sex with hipster girls well into middle age, possibly until I’m elderly. In which case I would have sex with my caregiver. I did not imagine that I would be married now thirteen years, two kids, living in the suburbs, driving a BMW, and moreover, loving it. Loving that sort of yuppie
lifestyle that I despised so when I was growing up.
Heidi: So in writing your book, what did you learn about how you ended up there?
MIB: I learned that all the steps I’ve taken in my life in the personal realm have belied the image I had for myself as this bohemian nomad. I never was that even though I desperately wanted to be that. I envisioned myself as something other than what I really am, which is a kind of monogamous homebody. This process brought this to the fore, that I am the most conventional conservative domesticated person that I know. And it’s sort of nice to embrace that.
Heidi: There’s a chapter of your book called “I Hate My Baby”. Can you tell me about it?
MIB: So yeah I hated my baby because he was colicky, and miserable, and consequently I was colicky and miserable as a result of his existence. I don’t know that I was emotionally prepared for fatherhood. I don’t know that anybody is emotionally prepared for parenthood. Particularly when it is so unpleasant right out of the gate. There are people who talk about their angelic babies and we didn’t have one of those. We had a nightmarish hellion. So for months it was just sleepless night after sleepless night, as he would just wail and bemoan his fate, and there was nothing we could do to alleviate that, and that thought “I hate my baby” was in my head ninety percent of the time.
Heidi: You reveal a lot in this book. Do you think it will change people’s perceptions of you going forward?
MIB: I don’t know how other people will see me. It certainly will and has affected the work I’m interested in producing. At least right now. I find that mining my own shit is helpful creatively and it’s interesting to me not so much because I’m interested in myself, but because I think the lessons that are applicable to me are applicable to everybody. I think I can be illustrative of how to do that. Who knows. I still feel like most of the time, I’m not doing it right.