Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
Arts & Culture

Michael Ian Black: Jack Of All Trades

Michael Ian Black's number one parenting tip? "When they say they hate's best to just go, 'I hate me too.'"
Michael Ian Black's number one parenting tip? "When they say they hate's best to just go, 'I hate me too.'"

You might be familiar with Michael Ian Black, the comedian, from his sketch comedy shows The State and Stella. Or, you've seen Michael Ian Black, the actor, in roles in NBC's Ed and the cult summer camp comedy Wet Hot American Summer. But if you're a parent of small children, you may know Michael Ian Black, the author, from his quartet of children's books, one of which includes a lemonade-selling monkey who reads minds.

Michael took up writing children's books such as The Purple Kangaroo after reading countless others to his son and daughter while thinking, "Oh, I could do this. Let me see if I can make money off exploiting my children." (He was joking. Kind of.) His relationship with his kids, as well as that with his wife, is one of the topics Michael unpacks in his frank, hilarious memoir You're Not Doing it Right (2012).

The actor, comedian and long-suffering father of two sat down with Ask Me Another host Ophira Eisenberg to dole out some useful parenting tips, discuss his love of poker and reveal that the once-in-a-lifetime role he dropped out of NYU to pursue was as a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle.

Since Michael seemed up for anything, we catered to his competitive spirit by inviting him to play an Ask Me Another Challenge against World Series of Poker champion Matt Matros. The topic? Poker, of course. As Michael put it to Ophira, "When [I] sit down at the poker table, all I'm thinking is, 'I need to vanquish my foes.' And everyone at the poker table are my foes. But really--the foe is I."

About Michael Ian Black

Michael Ian Black began his career with The State, a sketch comedy troupe he co-founded at New York University in 1988, which went on to have a successful run on MTV. He is also known for his work on NBC's Ed, Stella, Michael and Michael Have Issues and Wet Hot American Summer. Michael has appeared in several films and is a frequent contributor to VH1's I Love the... series. His first album of stand-up comedy, I Am a Wonderful Man, was released in 2007, and his first book of humorous essays, My Custom Van (and 50 Other Mind-Blowing Essays That Will Blow Your Mind All Over Face) came out in 2008. He has written four children's books, and in 2012 released a memoir entitled You're Not Doing It Right. Michael is married and has two children.

In the video below, Michael Ian Black joins his friend, actor and comedian Michael Showalter, to discuss his children's book Chicken Cheeks.

(Warning: This video contains language that may not be suitable for all viewers.)

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit