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July 2008

July 18, 2008

First Bad Review!

Yes, here it is: the first of what will most likely be many bad reviews of my book. Read it in its unabridged glory:

    

From Forbes.com (Forbes???)

Book Review
Black's Humor
David K. Randall 07.18.08, 6:00 AM ET

My Custom Van…And 50 Other Mind-Blowing Essays That Will Blow Your Mind All Over Your Face by Michael Ian Black ($24, Simon Spotlight Entertainment, 2008).

Michael Ian Black's new collection of short essays, My Custom Van… suffers a bit from the curse of high expectations. To those who didn't grow up in the '90s, Black is best known as a professional Proustian on VH1's I Love the… series, in which he provides sarcastic, dry commentary about bygone pop culture ephemera.

But to fans of the influential yet short-lived MTV sketch comedy show The State, Black's best work was crafting and performing short works of absurdist theater. He followed that up by playing the character Johnny BlueJeans in the sketch comedy show Viva Variety, and has since appeared in the movie Wet Hot American Summer, the Comedy Central series Stella and a bunch of Sierra Mist commercials.

The pace of those sketch comedy days lives on in My Custom Van, with the longest piece coming in at eight pages. One can feel the thought process produced by working in a variety show throughout the book. Many essays--"What I Would Be Thinking if I Were Billy Joel Driving to a Holiday Party Where I Knew There Was Going to Be a Piano," "A Series of Letters to a Squirrel," "Announcing the Imminent Arrival of the Handlebar Mustache Certain People Said I'd Never Be Able to Grow"--have funnier titles than their following paragraphs. It's as if Black knew he had a good concept and was unwilling to throw it out when its execution didn't match its promise.

That's not to say that there aren't hilarious moments. "When I Finally Get Around to Building My Robot, This Is What It Will Be Like," in which Black, obviously, writes about his ideal robot, is solid because his sense of absurdity isn't bogged down by the too-obvious sex jokes strewn through much of the collection. "Let's put it this way: there's no downside to giving my robot the ability to create highly realistic birdcalls. In fact, it might even be educational," he writes. The essay "Taco Party," a description of a party featuring lots and lots of tacos, also works because Black interjects pangs of realism into the absurdity. "You want to swim? You can f----- swim all you want. Guess what the pool is filled with? Did you f----- guess guacamole? Wrong, f-----. It's filled with water because YOU CAN'T F----- SWIM IN GUACAMOLE!!!!"

It's a laugh-out-loud paragraph but also one that reads like it belongs in a sketch. Black never fully shakes the sense that he's still writing for a show. When he does venture into essays that divert from that form, it's easy to confuse the solipsistic jokes in essays like "Some DJ Names I've Been Considering" with unfunny pieces in McSweeney's (which Black also contributes to.)

Lately, Black has attempted to garner attention for his book by invoking a pseudo-rivalry with David Sedaris. If that works to boost book sales, then good for him. But the best possible outcome of the publication of My Custom Van… is Black getting enough acclaim to convince MTV to release a DVD of his former work on The State. My Custom Van … contains some comedic gems, but its uneven nature makes a reader look for Black's better work

July 17, 2008

Here's My Interview In The Onion

Interviews

Michael Ian Black

  •    
 
Interviewed by Steve Heisler
  July 16th, 2008

You have to hand it to Michael Ian Black: He knows how to make an entrance. "Hi, I'm Michael Ian Black—very famous," he says at the beginning of Reality Bites Back, the spoof-soaked reality competition he's hosting for Comedy Central starting July 17. That self-promoting tone carries through his new collection of humorous essays, My Custom Van… And 50 Other Mind-Blowing Essays That Will Blow Your Mind All Over Your Face. (Chapters include "Announcing the Imminent Arrival of the Handlebar Mustache Certain People Said I'd Never Be Able to Grow" and "How to Approach the Sensitive Question: Anal?") The words contain a lot of mock-cockiness, but of all the former performers from MTV's beloved sketch comedy The State, Black is most likely to be recognized. He's acted on Ed and Reaper; done stints on Stella, Viva Variety, and in the cast of Wet Hot American Summer; penned the Run Fatboy Run screenplay (with help from its star, Simon Pegg); and served as editor-at-large of Cracked magazine. Plus, he's an I Love The… golden boy, having appeared on almost all of the series' VH1 iterations. Recently, The A.V. Club chatted with Black about his disdain for David Sedaris, critics, reality-TV starlets, and people who mistake him for a member of Kids In The Hall.

The A.V. Club: What's your involvement with Reality Bites Back? Was the concept of poking fun at reality shows pretty fleshed out when they brought you on board, or was it something you helped develop?

Michael Ian Black: They figured it all out and then I think went through the list of people who they didn't want to host it, and then finally got to me. Once I was on board, they pretty much let me do what I wanted, which was to act like a smug asshole, which is pretty much all I'm capable of doing. So I was playing to my wheelhouse.

AVC: The show is a meta-commentary on reality TV. When did we reach the reality meta-commentary tipping point?

MIB: That's a far more thoughtful question than I have a thoughtful answer to. I will say this: I was concerned going in that it wouldn't necessarily be clear that we were mocking [reality TV], so much as we are straight-up doing it, because it's hard to be more debasing and humiliating than those shows already are. And I haven't actually seen it yet, so I don't even know that we succeeded. The people who are paid to say we did, say we did. But that's their job to say that.

The reason it was interesting to me at all was because I find it so upsetting and bewildering that somebody would willingly put themselves in a situation where they know they are going to be the subject of abject humiliation… for what? To be on TV? I've just never understood that equation. I mean, for me, the reason I'm on television is to fill the hole in my heart that can never be filled. But most people don't have that hole, or if they do, they try to fill it with food. So I don't know why some people feel the need to be on television—it doesn't really affect your life. I don't know if people think that's going to make their lives better in any way, shape, or form. Coming from someone who's been on television for the better part of a decade, it really doesn't. I mean, don't get me wrong—it's incredible.

AVC: But you slowly worked your way up, step by step. For these people, suddenly being on TV is like winning the lottery.

MIB: But the thing is, when you win the lottery, you get money. So that has a purpose. Most of the time, you don't win anything on reality shows. You're booted off, or maybe you win $50,000, or $100,000, which isn't really life-changing. I don't know that it's worth it. And with a lot of these shows, like The Bachelor and shit like that, where you're trying to be somebody's concubine, I've just never understood this.

AVC: So you wanted to be on the show because you felt it was a way to comment on reality TV?

MIB: Well, I thought it was a good opportunity to do a pretty satirical commentary about the status of our fame-obsessed culture. In addition to that, I just finished my basement and didn't know how I was going to pay for it. I'm not saying my desire to do a satirical commentary on the state of our culture trumped my desire to pay for my basement. It was probably the other way around.

AVC: After maintaining a steady stream of posts on your blog, writing a book seems almost archaic; why slow down?

MIB: Well, I guess I'm old-fashioned. I just feel like a book legitimizes you. Anybody can write a blog, but how many people can write a book? As it happens, tens of thousands. Many, many people can write books, I just happen to be one of them. It never occurred to me to put all of my effort into a blog—maybe I just don't know how I would do that. Having a book is cool; I just wanted to have a book.

AVC: As far as your literary feud with David Sedaris, which you've chronicled on your blog: Was he the target from the get-go?

MIB: No, it just sort of occurred to me to start a feud with David Sedaris, to draw attention to myself. He seemed like he'd be a good choice because he's so beloved. If you're going to attack someone, you might as well attack someone who's beloved. Because he's not an obvious target. It'd be like going after Tom Hanks. What's the point? Everybody loves Tom Hanks. Well, everybody loves David Sedaris, so he's got a fucking bull's-eye on his ass.

Continue reading "Here's My Interview In The Onion" »

July 16, 2008

Attention Tucker Max: You’re Welcome!

Maxmib2

                             (Tucker & Me - BFFs)

What started as a desperate bid for publicity on my part has now blossomed into a veritable bouquet of publicity for – wait for it – Tucker Max. Yes, I realized today after being asked for the umpteenth time about my upcoming bout with the self-described asshole that Tucker has benefited from this far more than me. After all, I am a basic cable superstar, whereas his most notable onscreen performance to this point has been getting mocked by Opie and Anthony, the video of which I watched on YouTube.

This point was further driven home to me this morning when a San Diego radio station interrupted my interview to discuss my new “great new book of essays” (New York Press) to put me on the line with – wait for it – Tucker Max, who graciously agreed to step off the set of his movie to threaten to beat me into unconsciousness. Tucker was actually very pleasant on the phone, insisting that he didn’t want to hurt me, but merely to knock me out. I thought that was merciful.

Mr. Max was surprisingly soft-spoken, with none of the expected braggadocio. He merely stated in unequivocal terms that he couldn’t wait to hit me, even saying he would “walk to San Diego” if that’s what it took to get the fight done. Because I am not in the kind of physical condition that Tucker is, I said that I would take a Greyhound bus.

Continue reading "Attention Tucker Max: You’re Welcome!" »

July 15, 2008

My Book Is Out Today

Well, it's a great day to be me. My first book, "My Custom Van," officially hits bookstores today. I remember when the Guns-n-Roses albums "Use Your Illusion I & II" were released, fans camped outside record stores to be the first to buy them. Did fans camp outside bookstores last night to be the first to snatch up copies of my book? Yes they did:

Breadline

This photo was taken outside a Barnes & Noble in Cincinnati last night. Look how happy and excited they are! And no wonder. Not only is my book on sale, but apparently Jimmy Kimmel is single again!!! Yes it's a great day.

July 14, 2008

Some Suggestions For Where Tucker and I Could Duke It Out

I'm starting to think I got it backwards when I started a literary feud with David Sedaris, and an actual feud with Tucker Max. Sedaris is short, out of shape, and forty seven years old. I could probably take him in a fight. Max, not so much. He's bigger, stronger, faster, and crazier than me, while my strengths - snarkiness and a keen eye for the absurd - probably won't help me in the "Jewagon" (which is the name I have come up for the Star of David shaped ring in which I plan on fighting). Nevertheless, a fistfight has been offered and a fistfight has been accepted. And so, it falls to me to name the time and place. 

I have some suggestions:

1. The Superdome, New Orleans. Scene of the greatest natural disaster in our nation's history, it can now be the home of the single greatest exhibition of one out-of-shape white guy beating up another. I don't know what it costs to rent out the Astrodome, but I figure Tucker can just use one of his royalty checks to pay for it. Not only would this be good for the fight, it would be good for America.

2. The Faulkland Islands. Scene of the greatest British/Argentinian war in history. Added bonus: wonderful sightseeing. Think colorful houses and picturesque cathedrals!

3. SeaWorld Orlando. Even though this isn't necessarily the first place people think of when they think of fisticuffs, they have a wonderful penguin encounter there that will be educational (and fun) for everybody after the fight.

4. The barn from "Footloose" where Kevin Bacon taught Chris Penn how to dance.

5. A graveyard at midnight (spooooky!)

6. Beijing, China. Right after the Olympics, they will host the Paralympics in which disabled athletes compete for Olympic gold. Let our fight show them that even being able-bodied isn't necessarily an advantage when you look like me. Could be very inspirational.

7. Chuck E. Cheese's. We could clear out the tables and when the animatronic creatures start singing, we start swinging.

8. Christopher Street, New York City. If we're going to have a homoerotic encounter, we might as well be someplace where somebody's going to get off on it (besides Tucker's fans, I mean).

9. Michael Jordan's house. I'm not sure why Michael Jordan would offer the use of his home for this occasion, but wouldn't it be great? I bet his house is so nice. He's probably got a flat screen TV and a big leather sectional. Sweet. If Michael Jordan is reading this, I promise to use coasters for whatever post-fight drinks we consume.

10. Any place on Earth where kittens need a home.

Kittenscups

                               (Perfect location for a fight)

Hey Tucker, Can You Handle THIS?

Photo_127

July 13, 2008

Tucker Max is Quaking in His Little Girl Ducky Boots

So Tucker Max has officially accepted my challenge to a fight. Good. That was the easy part. The hard part? Deciding exactly how I am going to rearrange his face. Will I pluck out an eye and stuff it up his nostril? Will I make him choke down his own tongue until he throws it up and then sit on his head and force him to lap up his own puke like a bad little puppy? Or will I simply knock out his teeth and then use them as Chinese death stars which I will then throw into his black heart? I just do not know. But I do know this: Tucker Max is going down. How do I know this? Because Tucker may have the athleticism, the muscles, the fighting skills, the experience, the guts, and the heart. But I have something he will NEVER have – I’m not sure what that is, but if I think about it long enough I will probably come up with something. I might be better at Scrabble, for example. (I also have one of the original pets.com sock puppets, which I’m sure he doesn’t have, and will never have, but I don’t think that will help me in the fight.)

So confident is he of winning this fight that he has offered to give me one of his piddling royalty checks (“which should be for about $150,000”). Fuck that. Does he think a hundred and fifty thousand dollars means ANYTHING to me? Well it doesn’t!* I’M ON BASIC CABLE TELEVISION!!! He says we don’t even have to make it a bet. That I can just keep the check if I win, and he gets nothing if he loses. Well I say let’s make it a bet, you punked-out vagina! If I win, I get the royalty check. Fine. I’ll take your shitty little check and use it to wipe my ass.** But if you win, I will give you my ENTIRE COLLECTION of books about New Kids on the Block. I have three of them and now that they have reformed, those books are worth A LOT MORE THAN $150,000!!!*** That’s how confident I am that I am going to not only destroy your body, but your entire psyche. 

He asks me to pick the time and place. I will have to work on that, but rest assured it will be soon and it will be well-publicized and it will be sponsored and there will be some hot ring girls and probably a motorcycle jump before the fight. Also, I am hoping to enter the ring via helicopter. And I’m going to get a special robe with my name bedazzled on it. And you know how UFC has the Octagon? Well our ring is going to be shaped like the Star of Fucking David. Because that’s how we Jews roll.

Tucker Max, you are going to regret the day you ever read my blog.

2658522_2

                         (Tucker Max when I get through with him)

*When I say it doesn’t mean “anything” to me, what I actually mean is, that would mean a lot. I haven't had steady work in a while.

** After I use it to wipe my ass, I will then use it to pay off a home equity loan I took out to finish my basement.

*** It’s true I have the books, but I think they are probably worth, in total, about a dollar fifty.

IT'S ON!!!

That didn't take long at all.

I'm going to fight Michael Ian Black - July 13, 2008 04:38 PM


                 

This doesn't really have anything to do with the movie, but I am going to put it here anyway.

If you have been paying any attention at all to popular culture for the past decade, I am sure you know who Michael Ian Black is. If the name doesn't ring a bell, you almost certainly recognize his face, he is the only commentator on all those VH1 flashback shows who is actually funny, instead of just annoying.

Anyway, Michael has a new book out, and as a way to publicize it, he has challenged me to a fistfight. Here is what he said:

So Tucker Max, you drunk, misogynistic motherfucker - I am officially calling you OUT! I am going to fist fuck every hole in your boozy little body until you crawl away like the sniveling little bitch that you are. YOU'RE DEAD!


You can read the rest on his blog
.

Michael, I have no problem helping you get the word out about your book (which I hear is funny). But there is price to pay for trying to publicize it on the back of my popularity:

I accept.

I'm completely serious. I'd LOVE to fight you.

I'll even promise to show up drunk as shit. I'll drink an unreasonable amount of alcohol before we fight--20 beers, 30 beers, whatever it takes to me plastered. And if you don't think I'm drunk enough, I'll keep drinking. As long as I am conscious and able to stand on my feet, I'll fight you.

And here's the kicker:

If you beat me, I'll give you the next royalty check from my book.

It should be about 150k, give or take agent fees and other things. I am completely serious.

We don't even have to make this a bet. You win, you get the money. I win, I get nothing (except the satisfaction of standing over your broken, bleeding body and drunkenly yelling at you, "GET UP YOU FUCKING PUSSY! GET UP AND FIGHT!," or something to that effect, since I'll be drunk I can't quite predict what my words will be, or that they will even be enunciated or understandable).

Email me and let's set the time and place: tuckermax@gmail.com

And just to be clear: This isn't personal. I think you are a funny comedian, and I really respect your work. I'd much rather kick the shit out of someone who deserves it, like Benji Madden or Brody Jenner. To that effect, I promise when I kick your ass, I'll do my best not to leave any permanent damage.

I’m Going to Kick Tucker Max’s Ass

David Spedaris is old news. I am currently trouncing Spedaris in the humor category and in the category of “Who is the hot slut of the month?” I think the pressure was too much for him and he has retreated to his chateau and his baguettes and his coterie of fawning admirers on NPR. Au revoir, Monsieur McStink. So now with that pipsqueak out of the way, I train my sights on the great white whale of Amazon’s humor category, Tucker Max, who has been dominating this list since I began tracking it several weeks ago.

Picture_3

Who is Tucker Max? According to the back cover of his book: “My name is Tucker Max, and I am an asshole. I get excessively drunk at inappropriate times, disregard social norms, indulge every whim, ignore the consequences of my actions, mock idiots and posers, sleep with more women than is safe or reasonable, and just generally act like a raging dickhead.”

This is going to be difficult: I think I like Tucker Max.

It’s hard not to like a guy who so consistently throws up on himself. Literature has a long list of lovable alcoholic scamps who embarrass themselves and act like pigs. Judy Blume, for example.

I have always had a special fondness for assholes who know they are assholes and fully embrace their assholeness. It’s sort of how I acted when I was in high school, minus the alcohol and sleeping with girls. So, in retrospect, I guess it’s not how I acted. In fact, now that I think about it, I fucking hated the guys who acted like that. The only difference between Tucker Max and those guys is that those guys didn’t keep blogs. Would I have liked them if they had? If they were good writers, perhaps.

But still. Regardless of whether or not I like Tucker Max, he is still the enemy and I would very much like to cut off his balls and choke him with them (metaphorically speaking).

How do I do that?

I’ve already played out the whole literary feud thing. It worked well, but now it’s over. So what about a real feud? What if I challenge Tucker Max to a fist fight?

Here’s what I’m thinking:

I cannot beat up Tucker Max. I know that. He used to be some kind of athlete and in his pictures he looks like he’s in decent shape. I, on the other hand, can barely stand upright for more than twenty minutes at a time. The last time I threw a punch was also the last time I got my ass kicked. I was eleven. Her name was Kara, and she took karate.

But if Tucker is half the alcoholic that he claims to be, I might have a chance. I’m counting on a couple things going my way. First of all, I’m hoping he shows up to the fight drunk. If his book is to be believed, that’s pretty much all he does, right? So why would he abstain from booze for a fight with a fey VH1 commentator? He wouldn’t. In fact, my strategy is to schedule the fight for eight in the morning, when he will either still be drunk from the night before or completely hung over. Either way that levels the playing field somewhat.

Second, even though he looks like he’s in good shape, his liver has to be a mess. If I can get a couple good shots to the liver, I might do enough damage to that organ that all the toxins that have been accumulating in there for the last decade or so spill into his bloodstream, killing him. Yes, I think I could actually kill Tucker Max. At the very least, I might accelerate his inevitable cirrhosis, which may not win the battle, but will eventually win the war (when he dies from liver failure).

So Tucker Max, you drunk, misogynistic motherfucker – I am officially calling you OUT! I am going to fist fuck every hole in your boozy little body until you crawl away like the sniveling little bitch that you are. YOU’RE DEAD!

2567023832_fdec4013ca_o_2

                                              (Dead.)

July 11, 2008

I Am The Hot Slut of the Month

You can read all about it here

Until very recently I didn't know there was such thing as Hot Slut of the Day, Week, or Month. Furthermore, had I known, I don't think I would have considered myself a viable candidate for said honor. The word "hot" has rarely been applied to me. The word "slut" - never (except for a few weeks in eighth grade). So I find myself perplexed and a little touched to be June's Hot Slut of the Month. I do not know what my official duties will entail, but I imagine they will be very dirty. So be it. I am willing and able to perform all manner of filth.

Like Miss America, I plan on devoting my reign this month to a charitable cause. I haven't chosen my charity yet, but I think it might be something having to do with penguins. I know penguins aren't very slutty by nature, but they're awfully cute. The way they keep those penguin eggs warm between their feet? Adorable. Maybe I could combine penguins with something a little sexier, like orphans. I mean, I know that technically orphans aren't that sexy, but when you consider that orphans are usually the byproduct of sex, then I think you see where I'm heading. Maybe I could start a program where I bring penguins and orphans together. If it's enough orphans and enough penguins, that could be kind of slutty.

Anyway, presumably I will now also be in contention for Hot Slut of the Year. I don't know if it's too early to start casting your votes for that, but if I win I promise to do unspeakable things to all of you via web cam.

Jackass_penguin

                                     (such a slut)