Michael Ian Black Does Famously Well On Our Pop Quiz
Funnyman Michael Ian Black wants you to know that he’s “Very Famous,” as suggested by the title of his new Comedy Central special and CD, which drops today. The comedian is best known for his role in cult classic “Wet Hot American Summer,” his sketch work in the short-lived series “The State” and “Stella,” and talking-head gigs on VH1’s “I Love the …” retrospectives. (Though “The State” is sometimes confused with fellow '90s favorite “Kids in the Hall,” Black did not actually appear on the latter.) Black took time out from his busy schedule, which includes his upcoming “Black is White” tour, to talk pop culture with us.
What’s on your summer reading list?
At the moment I’m reading “An Instance of the Fingerpost,” by Iain Pears. I’m also reading a Bill Bryson book about the history of the house. I’m going to follow that with a Bill Bryson book called “A Walk in the Woods.”
What was your first cultural experience?
Probably seeing Three Dog Night at the New Jersey Arts Center, when I was about 6 years old.
What was your first record purchase?
Either Wham!’s Make It Big, or possibly Huey Lewis and the News’ Sports. At the time, I didn’t have money, because I was a child. So I wanted to make sure that any music purchase would be worthwhile. I waited, and if they had four hits from the same album on the pop music station, I’d buy the album. Huey Lewis and Wham! fit that criteria. Four is a very high bar; very few albums generate four hits. As a result, my music collection right up to the present day only consists of Wham!, Make It Big, and Huey Lewis and the News, Sports.
What was the last song you downloaded?
I was going through a phase when I downloaded a lot of obscure, avant-garde classical music. There’s this guy named Arvo Pärt, who writes all this liturgical choral stuff, and I downloaded gigabytes of it. I hate all of it. But i feel obligated to listen to it, because it took, like, three days to download it. It’s just exactly what you think it’s going to be: Gregorian chants, but written six months ago. It’s a bore and a half, but I’m just pretentious enough that I feel like “I got the Arvo Pärt discography... I’ve got to listen to it.”
If you had to be stranded with one DVD, what would it be?
If I’m on a desert island, I’m probably depressed, so I might want a comedy. I’m going to go with Herbie, “The Love Bug” ... the remake.
What was the fiirst R-rated movie you saw?
What TV reruns consistently draw you in?
Anytime Oprah’s on with Gayle, I just watch and watch and watch... and cry and cry and cry. I love those two together. I love them separately too. But I love them more together.
What’s your opinion of reality TV?
I can’t watch reality television. I don’t believe any of it. I don’t like any of it. I think it’s crass. It generally is just about hair pulling and name calling and if I want that, I’ve got that at home.
What TV show would you revive?
Any of my television shows that were cancelled, mostly because of the paycheck. God, I enjoy a good paycheck. I would bring back "Stella." I felt like it did not get the shot it deserved.
What’s your cultural guilty pleasure?
I find myself enjoying, and not in an ironic way, Radio Disney. They know what they’re doing over there. It’s so much ear candy, you could develop diabetes listening to it.
What was your worst cultural experience?
My wife wanted to go to the symphony once, so I bought her tickets. And that’s the kind of thing where you’re, like, “I should really be enjoying the symphony.” Three minutes in, I was, like, “Let’s get out of here.”
Who would you want to play you in a biopic?
On a scale of 1-10, lowbrow to highbrow, how would you rate yourself?
Three and a half. I’m just smart enough where you go, “I’m pretty sure that guy isn’t actually mentally deficient, but I’m not positive.” And, I think that rates about a three and a half. I can use big words, but I use them incorrectly.
What movie character do you most relate to?
I probably relate most to Eeyore. He’s a grump, I’m a grump. He doesn’t want to participate, I don’t want to participate. I think Eeyore is constantly going through an existential crisis. I feel similarly. And I know what it’s like to feel unloved.
What’s next in your Netflix queue?
The wife and I are watching “Breaking Bad,” season 3. We’re not caught up, so we’ve got to do that. But that requires spending time together.
What movie ending would you like to rewrite?
I wish Schindler had saved all the Jews.
What’s the first movie you snuck out to see?
My friend and I, when I was about 11 years old, took ourselves to the local cinema to watch “Terms of Endearment.” It’s a strange choice for two 11-year-old boys. But we love Debra Winger!
If they made a movie about your life, what would it be called?
“Michael Ian Black: The Kids in the Hall Story.”