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Michael Ian Black is represented by Ted Schachter @ Schachter Entertainment. (310) 712-3730.

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August 18, 2010

I'm in Columbus Ohio This Weekend. Go.

I'm in Columbus, OH this weekend. Go.
Open Mike Michael Ian Black on the joys of commercial failure

By Travis Hoewischer

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7 Comments Photo courtesy Schacter Entertainment

Michael Ian Black is funnier in a day of tweeting than most people will be all year:

“Confirmed again today that I like boobs.”
“Finally heard the Mel Gibson tape. I hate to say it, but I don’t think he and his girlfriend are going to make it.”
“If the choice is between seeing morbidly obese people walking around or people with yoga mats, I’ll take the fatties.”
“No matter how many cardigan sweaters I wear, it seems like Prince is still a sexier motherf***er than me.”
“In Canada. Hoping to get diagnosed with a very expensive disease while I’m here.”

Yeah, and that’s just a Wednesday. Then again, it’s the kind of output knowledgeable fans would expect from Black, the comedy equivalent of the veteran utility infielder.

You need someone to make up for the numerous unfunny schmucks on I Love the ’80s? You need someone to play a gay demon? An oversexed pudding salesman? A dude named Johnny Bluejeans? Bring in Black. The dude’s funny in any situation.

He and his cohorts from the mid-’90s MTV cult sketch show The State have since planted themselves, at least temporarily, in several critical niches, with alums of the show comprising most of the Reno 911! cast, playing key bit roles in mainstream comedies, as well as their brilliant summer camp spoof, Wet Hot American Summer.

Black carries himself in that rare Carlin-like manner, where he is equal parts silly and endearing, biting and smearing. Case in point: on his blog, he had words for those who had accused him of “selling out” for accepting advertisement deals on his Twitter feed. His response? Pure pro.

I’m sorry if it pisses anybody off, but if you are upset, I know what will make you feel better: a delicious Klondike bar washed down with an icy cold Sierra Mist.

That’s what the Brits call “taking a piss.”

Black, who will appear at the Columbus Funny Bone August 20th and 21st, took time away from his vacation to wax further on Twitter, his place in the comedy world, and let (614) pitch him the ultimate project that will bring him mainstream success.

Are you surprised when people accuse comics of “selling out?”

I find it kind of maddening. I think a lot of artists these days - I use that word sparingly - have the same frustration, which is that the arts have become commodified because of the Internet. You can get anything you want for free, which as a consumer, I’m thrilled about. But, as someone who is trying to create content for a living and support themselves, it can be a challenge. Twitter, in particular, is providing a platform for people to speak - which is great - but they are the sole benefactor. It’s not like they’re a non-profit group trying to save the planet - they’re a company trying to make money, just like everybody else. It’s frustrating for me when people get up in arms when an artist tries to get compensation for what they do.

I think people feel the same way about the media. Yeah, news on the Internet is “free,” but someone should be compensated for generating it.

It’s just a weird time in terms of how we think about the intersection between art and commerce. Maybe it’s preposterous to be able to think you can make a living doing this. I mean, ultimately, what I’m doing is making dick jokes. (laughs)

And some fine dick jokes they are. I enjoy that you bill them on your blog as a “steady stream” of dick jokes. Packs more of a punch that way.

(Laughs) A steady stream of, hopefully, medium-quality dick jokes. It’s interesting, because since I’ve started accepting ads, which I believe there are three, I feel a bigger obligation to be entertaining. I actually feel like they’re getting more for their money in a weird way, because I’m thinking about being funny rather than just posting what comes to my head. I guess I still do that, I’m just more judicious about it now.

Well certainly. Somebody backs it now, you kinda have to deliver, give it your all.

I don’t know if I would say I give it my all (laughs) - I certainly give it something.

Back to the dick jokes. Is there a Holy Grail or go-to that you’re most proud of?

Nope. They are all my children - I care not at all about any of them.

How did you decide to go out on your own as Michael Ian Black, rather than working on stage, or on camera with ensembles?

I am doing it because it’s a challenge, and because I have always admired standup comedians; I’ve always admired the craft of it. But, I’ve never had the time to devote to it. Now seemed like as good a time as any to see if I could do it in a way that made me proud.

How have the shows been so far? Any rough nights?

The crowds have been great. I don’t really have any of the comedian horror stories because I’ve been fortunate, in that I don’t have to show up at an open mic night at a Mexican place at 2 a.m. and make three people laugh.

Yeah, but that would be awesome if you did. It would be fun to go down to the Mexican joint and slay those three people.

Oh no. It would be fun in the telling of the story. Not fun to do. That would be horrible. (laughs) See, that’s the thing, I never wanted to pay my dues, go through the horrors and rigors - I’ve got horrors and rigors of my own.

So, your advice to any young comedian would be to make sure to get a popular show on MTV?

That would be my first piece of advice, yes.

Is it weird to look around and see everyone from The State, essentially your college buddies, on different TV networks and in movies?

Yeah, but the thing is, when you’re in this industry, you end up knowing everyone. We are all proud of what we do, but the novelty of seeing your friends on different shows has worn off - to the extent that now, my only real thought is: How come that f***ing guy got a job and I didn’t?

Ha! Now, your first thought is sabotage?

It’s only about sabotage. Sabotage and schadenfreude.

Well, you do know those guys better than any; you should be able to throw some dirt on them.

I know, but the problem is, any dirt on actors or comedians only helps them. There’s nothing bad you can say about them … except pedophilia.

Yeah, that’s still pretty taboo.

Yeah, nobody would believe me if I accused 10 other people - who all happen to be in my old sketch group. Unless I was also implicating myself.

Were there comedians who influenced you?

The ones I was aware of, and thought were great, were Woody Allen, George Carlin, Richard Pryor, Eddie Murphy … I thought Sam Kinison was really funny.

Any projects you would still like to do? You’ve done such a variety already.

What I would like … is for something I do to be successful. That would be terrific. (laughs) If I could do something that was accepted by the mainstream, that would be fantastic. Barring thaaattt? I’m content doing what I’m doing. I’ve got a nice job floating around, doing different things. I’m not locked into anything. There’s a lot of advantage to being a commercial failure.

Here’s your chance: pitch me the mainstream project that will put you over the top.

I wish I had it. I wish I were capable of coming up with those sorts of ideas.

What if you pitch The Cosby Show back to NBC, with the entire original cast, only with you as Bill Cosby?

I like that! Can we use their scripts? I think that’s a pretty good idea. But again, that’s a good idea to you and me - I don’t think America is ready to accept me as Bill Cosby … with Phylicia Rashad as my wife.

Michael Ian Black Performs @ The Columbus Funny Bone
145 Easton Town Center
August 20th - 21st
8 p.m. and 10:15 p.m. nightly
www.michaelianblack.typepad.com

August 12, 2010

Awesome

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I love this picture. For so many reasons, I love this picture. First of all, context. I found it on the site girlcameramirror, which is exactly what it sounds like: girls taking pictures of themselves in various states of undress. Mostly the girls are young, skinny, and making that face girls make that I think is supposed to look like a kissy face but instead comes off more like “this is what I will look like when I get my lips done.” Also they show their boobs, which I like a lot.

It would be disingenuous of me to say I like those picture ironically. I do not; I like them because they are pictures of naked girls. But I also recognize that there is something kind of sad and troubling about girls posting pictures of themselves without their clothes on for no discernible reason other than the fact that girls have a biological compulsion to make boys salivate, and boys have a biological compulsion to do so, and then masturbate.

Girls want to be seen as pretty. Boys want to see pretty girls. (Plus, in my experience, girls want to see pretty girls too.)

Needless to say, somebody would have to feel pretty good about her body to post such a picture. The girls who tend to feel this way tend to have slamming bodies. So this picture is an anomaly on the site, a photo of two girls, obviously overweight, obviously good friends, with their shirts off, and apparently feeling very happy about themselves. That’s the context. And it made me feel good.

Second, there are the details. And the details are just as awesome as the context. The matching bathing polka dot bathing suit tops. That in itself is curious enough to warrant a thumbs up from me. Why are they wearing matching tops? Did they buy them together? Did one of them have both? Did they put them on specifically for the photo or are they on their way to some event where they are expected to wear matching polka dot bathing suits? (Bras?)

The goofy expression on the one girl’s face. To me, it is a face that says, “This is for fun.” What I read from her expression is simple: “Look how stupid I’m being with my friend,” the kind of face everybody makes for the camera now and again when she is having fun and wanting to record the memory. The face seems to harbor no resentment, no irony, no dismissiveness, nothing to suggest that she is making any kind of larger statement with this photo than she is being silly. I am a big fan of silliness. Plus she’s got a tongue stud.

Her friend’s expression is almost serene. Resting her head on her friend’s shoulder, she is absorbed in the image she’s creating. Her face holds no come hither look, no kissy face, no “I’m hot and I know it,” or even “I wish I was hot.” It’s just “girl with goofy friend.” She looks pretty. She looks happy.

Then there’s the post-photo decision to send the picture in to girlcameramirror. Why? What is the purpose? Why set yourself up like that? I don’t think it’s a political statement on their part. If I felt like it was, I think I would like the picture less. I choose to interpret it as, “we like this picture, we like the site, let’s send our picture to the site.” I think it’s as simple as that. I hope it is. I want these girls to be well-adjusted, happy BFFs with huge tits and matching polka dot bathing suits. Yes, they’re fat, and that’s part of the appeal of the picture. The image would be meaningless to me if they weren’t. I don’t even want to say I think they’re proud of being fat. I don’t think they are. I have no reason to think they’re proud; I think (at least in this moment) they are indifferent, which is better than pride. They are caught in a moment of unselfconscious happiness on a site which is all about the exact opposite of that, and that is awesome.

August 10, 2010

My New Kid's Book Comes Out Soon. Here Is A Review

It surprises people to learn that I write children’s books. It shouldn’t, as I have two kids. And also because I am a genius. And also because I like that easy children’s book money. This is a review from Publisher’s Weekly for my latest one, “A Pig Parade is a Terrible Idea,” which comes out in a few weeks:

A Pig Parade Is a Terrible Idea

Written by Michael Ian Black, Illustrated by Kevin Hawkes

(SSBFYR; ISBN: 9781416979227; September 2010; Fall catalog page 13)

Black’s pitch-perfect porcine parody sets off at a brisk pace. “Like most children, you have probably thought to yourself at one time or another, I bet a pig parade would be a lot of fun.” Hawkes (who illustrated Black’s Chicken Cheeks) supplies a picture of pigs dashing forth in spruce uniforms, playing instruments, as fireworks explode behind them. “The only problem is,” Black continues, “a pig parade is a terrible idea.” A double-page spread shows why; no parade anywhere—just a trio of porkers “snuffling” around, one with chewing gum stuck to its snout. Skewering stuffy types who belabor the obvious, Black points out that real pigs show no willingness to march, won’t wear majorette uniforms, and won’t hold big balloons (“Because while pig hooves are good for digging up wild mushrooms, when it comes to holding giant parade balloons, they are simply not up to the job”). The Monty Pythonesque premise delivers laugh after laugh, while Hawkes’s portraits of pigs chewing on their band hats, tromping on their horns, and floating into outer space with parade balloons will win over readers of all ages.

 

July 28, 2010

Everybody Should Be Allowed One Stabbing Per Day

Everybody should be allowed one stabbing per day. This would be great for our culture as a whole for a number of reasons. But before we get into those, I though I would lay down some ground rules and a little clarification. Just because you are allowed to stab somebody once a day doesn’t mean you are required to. There might be many days when you don’t stab anybody at all. In fact, most people might go weeks at a time without stabbing anybody. But there are times when stabbing somebody is the appropriate response to a given situation and this is what the new rule is for.


The stabbings do not “roll over” like phone minutes. If you don’t stab anybody one day, you don’t get two stabbings the next. It’s definitely a “use it or lose it” type deal. But if you stab somebody at exactly 11:59:59 pm, you can stab that person again one second later.


Also, children still aren’t allowed to stab anybody. Nor are they allowed to be stabbed. As far as this stabbing thing goes, children are off-limits, unless they’re really shitty kids.

Finally, you can’t stab anybody who’s sleeping or unconscious. Because that’s not sportsmanlike. Obviously there might be a fine line here because I imagine a lot of married people will be in bed next to their spouses with a knife. They’ll go “wake up!” and then as soon as their husband or wife opens their eyes – BAM! Is it fair? No. So don’t be an asshole to your spouse. 


Those are pretty much the only rules. You can stab whoever you want anytime you want, in any part of the body you want, however severely you want, with whatever kind of knife you want, as long as that person is awake and it’s only once a day. But keep in mind, whoever you stab also has the same stabbing rights as you. This will hopefully prevent people from stabbing each other willy-nilly, or too early in the day.


What’s good about stabbings is that they are not usually fatal. Sure, getting knifed can kill you. So can slipping on ice. The point is not to necessarily eviscerate people, but just to let them know that if they piss you off, they could find a knife in their eye. I think everybody would be a lot nicer to each other that way, particularly the people who have already lost one eye.


Will there be some hotheads who abuse the privilege? Sure. But guess what will happen to those people? They’ll get fucking stabbed. All the assholes will weed themselves out, leaving behind only the people who mostly do not want to stab each other.


Yes, there will be times when we will stab people for questionable reasons – maybe they screwed up our coffee order, maybe they took our parking space. Some of those people will probably die. Hey that sucks, but I think it’s a small price to pay for the right to stab somebody once a day.


Think about how prompt the guys who fix the cable TV will become. Waiters and waitresses will be much friendlier. Doctors will be more sensitive. Your boss.


In the end, this new rule comes down to a basic truth: everybody wants to stab somebody once in a while. So why not let them? Sure the beginning might be a little rough as people stab each other just for the hell of it. But after a few months, I think everybody will settle down and stab each other in moderation. It’s a good rule and if you disagree with me, guess what I will do? If you guessed “stab me” you’re wrong. I will shoot you.

 

  872_400x300

                             (Good for society)

 

 

July 14, 2010

World's Most Popular Male Australian? Me.

Now that Mel Gibson has imploded and Heath Ledger isn’t around to take the crown, I would like to throw my hat in the ring for new “World’s Most Popular Male Australian.” I first floated this idea on the “Late, Late Show” a couple nights ago and since then it has really taken hold in my mind. Do I think I have a legitimate shot? I do.

 

Yes, I have a few things working against me. The first and most obvious is the fact that I am not Australian. But I think this can probably be overcome with a little vocal training and the occasional reference to Canberra, which Wikipedia informs me is the capital of Australia. (Until this moment, I thought the capital was either Sydney or Ottawa.)

 

The second is that I am not (currently) popular. This need not be an impediment. After all, lots of people aren’t currently popular, and one of them will eventually become the world’s most popular male Australian. I have an advantage over all of those guys in that I have already begun pursuing this goal with the single-minded intensity of Gary Ablett. (Who? Former Australian rugby player, who I know about because I am Australian.)

 

When I first brought up this idea, Craig Ferguson, the host of “The Late, Late Show” (who may or may not be Australian himself) mentioned that he believes Hugh Jackman is now poised to capture the title. If actual popularity and actual nationality are to be the only factors taken into consideration, then it’s hard to disagree with his assessment. But here’s the thing: I want this more than he does. So here’s my proposal to Hugh. Rather than have us fight it out, I will take the title of “World’s Most Popular Male Australian,” and you can be “World’s Most Beloved Male Australian.” That way we both win, and we can high five each other when we’re tag teaming Nicole Kidman.

 

Think about it world. I’m here, I’m available, and I’m ready to be popular. So, until next time, as we say in Australia: good day, friend. 



(Me on Ferguson - not sure where I talk about being Australian, but you can watch if you want.Also, I know the shirt is too tight. It wasn't the shirt I wanted to wear, but the wardrobe guy told me the other shirt would be bad for TV. So I wore this one instead. I had no idea it would look so awful. Please stop yelling at me about it. I will never wear that shirt again or at least until I lose thirty pounds or two stone, as we say in Australia)

 

 

July 12, 2010

My Super Fun Summer Vay-Cay!

My family summer vacation is rapidly coming to an end. Today we met our friends for breakfast (they paid), then went on a little daytrip (only cost was some smoothies and parking), and ended the day with some different friends at a mid-priced Cuban restaurant (they paid). Afterwards, I ended up shelling out some money for ritzy cupcakes at a hoity-toity bakery (almost TWENTY BUCKS!!!) All in all, I feel like I ended the day up about a hundred bucks.

Normally I don’t worry about money,* but this vacation was really expensive. We didn’t even go that far! Just across the country to a terrible city called Los Angeles. Why go to a terrible city for a vacation? Because we have terrible friends who live here and the only way to see them is to visit their terrible city. (I was kidding about my friends being terrible. Most of them are not terrible at all. One exception: Ken Marino.)

My wife wanted to come out here to see people and I wanted to stay home and not see people, so we compromised and came out here to see people. Man oh man, by the time you add the cost of the airline tickets, the car, the house we rented, groceries, restaurants, the Thai boy (extra for hairless), tickets to the La Brea tar pits, and everything else, we ended up spending a Jew’s fortune!

(I recognize that throwing the word “Jew” in there was gratuitous and I apologize.**)

There was a time, not so long ago, when I used to have so much money I couldn’t spend it fast enough. “You want the twelve pack of Bounty paper towels, honey? Go ahead and buy it. Don’t even worry about the coupon!” That used to be my attitude regarding paper towels back when I had a job. These days, though, it’s a different story. The paper towels are generic and the coupons all get used. (For toilet paper, not for shopping because I still have my pride.)

Maybe some of you are wondering how I can afford to take my family on any vacation at all when I claim I cannot even afford name brand paper towels. It’s a good question and one whose answer will be revealed when my lawyer says it’s okay. But for now, content yourself with knowing that when it came time to order the large English Breakfast latte over ice at the Coffee Bean, I told them I would take a medium because “all that caffeine gives me the jitters.” Friends, caffeine doesn’t give me the jitters, but the extra thirty-five cents did.

So I leave Los Angeles a poorer man. But a man rich with the knowledge that I gave my family a once-in-a-lifetime vacation, whose memories they will cling to long after I am dead. Because I am now worth far more dead than alive.***

 

 

 



* Not true. I constantly worry about money.


** I further recognize that if I really felt like I shouldn’t gratuitously throw the word “Jew” in there I would have simply omitted it rather than apologizing for it after the fact.


*** Not true unless my song catalog becomes a lot more valuable after my death. I probably do not need to add the fact that I do not have a song catalog but I will anyway just in case there is any confusion.

 

 

July 02, 2010

My Vacation

Feeling kind of lousy today, my first day of vacation with the family. Do I blame the intercontinental travel or the amount of time spent with my loved ones? I am not going to speculate. I would tell you where I am, but it’s kind of a cheesy place and I don’t want you to think I’m cheesy. Alright I’ll tell you if you won’t think I’m cheesy. I rented out Jon Bon Jovi’s house. IT’S NOT AS CHEESY AS IT SOUNDS!!!

 

First of all, JBJ has really good taste. The house is decorated in late 19th century English and French antiques. The carpets are all Persian (pre-revolution), and the football jerseys on display are all from REALLY GOOD players (John Elway, LaDamian Somebody). If there is one cheesy element, it is the swimming pool shaped like a giant guitar. But it’s a Gibson guitar and everybody knows they make the best guitars in the world. Also, I’m not really renting Jon Bon Jovi’s house. I don’t have that kind of money and I doubt JBJ needs rental income. But if I were going to rent it, I bet it would look like that. (If anybody has photos of Jon Bon Jovi’s house, please email them to me.)

 

I am not somebody who spends a lot of time pining for vacations. They stress me out. Mostly when I am on holliday what I want to do is the same thing I do at home, just someplace else. Those things include: bicker with my family, surf the internet, and try to convince myself that I look good despite growing evidence to the contrary. I think my physical looks peaked in 1997 and since then it’s been a long slow slide to decrepitude. I know this because now when I refer to myself as a “middle-aged man” nobody laughs or even smiles. Their silence is their agreement. I am middle-aged and finally developing the paunch I’ve read so much about. It’s not nearly as satisfying as I thought it would be when I was twenty-one.

 

But of course all of that gets set aside when I am on vacation. When I am on vacation, my main concern is where am I going to eat and how much am I going to sleep and do I have enough books? That’s pretty much it. The rest of it: the socializing, the catching up with old friends, the sniffing of various cheeses and sampling of various soft drinks, none of that stuff matters. When I am looking for in a vacation is a lull from my normally frenetic life. I define “frenetic” as not having a job and sitting home every day doing nothing.

 

So yes, I am on vacation in a sunny clime with people I love and eating foods that, to this point, have produced a mild headache and severe shakes. This is because all I’ve eaten is sugar and caffeine. Because I am vacationing at Starbucks. Because it’s all I can afford. And because that’s where I’m working now. If Jon Bon Jovi comes in, I am going to be so stoked.

 

 

June 14, 2010

In Defense of Twittertising

A couple weeks ago, I was approached about adding the occasional advertisement to my Twitter feed. My response: an immediate yes.

Many of you probably read that and think, “I would never sell out like that,” but I thought to myself, “What took you so long?”

Those of you familiar with my television work are probably aware that I sometimes take work doing commercials. The reason I do this is because I enjoy money. Moreover, I need money to maintain my opulent (middle-class) lifestyle. Selling products for cash allows me the freedom to take less well-playing jobs like making soon-to-be-canceled television shows.

The situation with Twitter is no different. I provide a valuable service (a constant stream of dick jokes) to Twitter for free. As of today, I’ve written 2,655 tweets. That’s a lot of free material, all of it contributing to the entertainment of the 1.5 million people who follow me, as well as the multi-billion dollar capitalization of Twitter itself. When presented with an opportunity to get some return on my investment of time and energy, why not take it?

There will always be a group who become upset with their favorite actor/musician/writer/racecar driver/whatever when that person accepts money instead of remaining “pure.” I get that. I was probably like that too when I was sixteen. But the real world has a way of intruding on people’s ideals, and my mortgage doesn’t care that much about my indie cred.

Moreover, I suspect the people who scream the loudest about “selling out” would be very happy to accept the same money themselves. That’s not a knock on them – it’s just reality. People got bills, yo.

So yes, I will be throwing in the occasional advertisement into my Twitter feed. Just like a disc jockey reads ads and a television show airs commercials and blogs accept sponsorship. I’m sorry if it pisses anybody off, but if you are upset, I know what will make you feel better: a delicious Klondike bar washed down with an icy cold Sierra Mist.

Klondike bar original  Sierra Mist Logo_ad


May 25, 2010

Work Out

I started exercising again after a long layoff, which made me think I should do some other things again that I haven’t being doing – like writing blog posts. As I’ve said before the reason I haven’t been blogging is because I’m trying to get my stupid book finished, and I don’t want to post what I’ve been writing in my book on the internet for free, although here are a couple lines from today’s work:

Thank God the drive home is uneventful, except that the radio station I am listening to plays “Melt With You,” by Modern English, which I have not heard in a while. Irrelevant but noteworthy. But I feel fine. No symptoms, no aftereffects, nothing. While driving I have some time to think about possible causes:

• There was something weird in my Chinese food. Most likely drugs or that poisonous blowfish they eat in Asia which kills people. Possibly what I thought was chicken was actually blowfish. For the purposes of my theory, I will ignore the fact that they only eat that stuff in Japan, not China.

• Mini-stroke. Perhaps I have a leaky brain vein. If that’s the case, I could die at any minute. And if I could die at any minute, I should probably go ahead and buy that Xbox I’ve been thinking about getting.

• A one-time synaptic misfire. I don’t know whether this sort of thing happens or not, but maybe it was just one of those inexplicable cognitive events that happens after brain trauma. Like when people wake up from a coma and they can speak Flemish. I don’t recall having any brain trauma but maybe as a result of the brain trauma, I am also suffering from amnesia.

• It was psychosomatic. Possible, but unlikely. If I am going to have some sort of psychological breakdown, I expect it to be the kind where I run around screaming because I think I am on fire. Anything less would be a letdown.

That was a freebie. You can read the rest of it in my book, which WILL NEVER BE DONE. I don’t know why writing this second book is so hard, except that I’m writing true tales from my life, which for some reason are far more difficult for me to write than made-up shit. Maybe because I have to figure out a way to make my life seem more interesting than it actually is.

Today, for example, all I’ve done is get my daughter ready for school, go to the gym, and try to think of funny to write for Twitter. And get a mani/pedi (not true). And wave to the mailman, who did not wave back (true).

I’m not sure what the mailman’s problem is but he really needs to straighten out his attitude, especially now when people are so mad at the government. I don’t think this is a situation where he’s going to shoot anybody or anything. I just think maybe he’s having a bad day. Or else he didn’t see when I waved to him. Which is more likely because I was inside at the time, and he was outside in his mail truck. Even so, would it have killed him to toss a little wave in my direction on the off-chance that I was standing naked in my bathroom looking out the window after checking to see if my single workout had made any difference in my body?

Anyway, back to work. Stupid book.

May 06, 2010

From Yesterday's McSweeney's

Please, Can We Not
Go To the Party?

BY MICHAEL IAN BLACK

- - - -

Please can we not go to the party? The reason I ask is because I am not feeling very well. There's something wrong with my head. Or my stomach. Or my arm. It's kind of an all over body ache, the sort of thing that probably would not show up on any sort of medical exam, but which I am confident is quite contagious. To be safe, I think we should probably just stay home.

I know you are excited to go to the party. You enjoy getting dressed up and drinking good wine and making conversation with all of our friends, many of whom we have not seen for a long time. They are great people one and all. They are without exception terrific, and I am proud to consider them my friends. At the same time, I do not need to see any of them ever again.

I find that a lot of socializing is simply a way of communicating that we like each other. When we stand around the party sloshing our wine around and catching up with each other, essentially we are just saying "I like you" over and over again. All social conversation can be reduced in this way. You say, "I like you." I respond, "I like you, too." Then, after that person is out of earshot, we talk to other people about how much we dislike the first person.

Think about how good staying home will be for the environment.

Another problem with going to the party tonight is that you and I both know the only thing to eat will be olives. At every party we attend the hostess sets out a small dish of puckered olives. I don't want any more olives. I know I don't have to eat them, but they give me something to do with my hands while I am standing around saying "I like you" over and over again. But then I do not know where to put the olive pits. Sometimes the hostess puts out little bowls for the pits, but usually the bowls are nowhere near where I am standing and I feel stupid excusing myself to dispose of my olive pits so instead I just end up putting them into my pocket. A couple olive pits in my pocket is fine but soon they grow into a mound, with the result being that my thighs end up looking bumpy. No matter how much time and effort I put into my appearance, all of that work goes right out the window with the addition of bumpy thighs.

Maybe there will be some hummus there too, but hummus has always struck me as more of an experiment in texture than an actual food. I might end up going hungry, which will no doubt make my sickly condition worse. I know you do not think I am actually sick, even though I have been issuing subtle coughing noises for the last several hours in the hopes that you will ask me if I am feeling well enough to go to the party, a question to which I can respond, "I hope so," which I am hoping will lead to you saying, "If you're feeling sick, we shouldn't go," followed by me saying, "Maybe you're right. Darn it, I was really looking forward to that party," and then you saying, "Let's just stay home," and me reluctantly going, "So be it, woman. So be it." But no matter how subtly I cough, you do not say any of those things, leading me to believe you do not actually think I am sick at all.

Please, can we not go to the party?

If we stay I promise to clean the bathroom. And fix that thing I told you I would fix three years ago. And maybe I will even get off the computer, although I am not making any promises about that.

Let us stay home and sit by the fire and I will rub your back and play Spanish lullabies on the guitar. I will make the oatmeal raisin cookies that you like and feed them to you while rubbing your feet. The combination of feet and cookies may not sound so appealing right now, but when accompanied by Spanish lullabies it is wonderful. And if we stay home tonight, I promise the next time there is a party I will go without complaint. I will be the perfect date, charming and vivacious and fun. Unless I am not feeling well, in which case I may stay home.