On the Spot: Michael Ian Black

March 8, 2012

Yes, he’s that wiseacre from VH1. But there’s so much more to the man best-known for his work with sketch troupe the State and for hosting multiple editions of the “I Love the [insert decade here]” pop-culture flashback series. Black’s new book, “You’re Not Doing It Right: Tales of Marriage, Sex, Death, and Other Humiliations,” is filled with humor, pathos and poetic prose — revealing Black, 40, to be both an empathetic observer of the human condition and an excellent writer.

Why write a semi-serious memoir now?
It came from feeling increasingly misunderstood professionally and, sometimes, personally. I was so shrouded in my own persona that I didn’t give people the opportunity to see me as anything other than an [expletive] on VH1. I am an [expletive] on VH1, but I can be an [expletive] on many other networks, too.

Was it hard to not end every chapter on a punch line?
For a comedian, it’s hard to let go of being funny all the time because so much of that is how you define yourself. I have often felt very constrained by that.

What was the biggest hurdle to writing such an honest book?
It’s learning to trust that me, as myself, am enough. Even talking to you now, I have to resist the urge to be self-effacing or glib — it’s not easy for me. I’ve built up these expectations for who I am, and I’m now in the process of tearing those down.

Sixth and I Historic Synagogue, 600 I St. NW; Thu., 7 p.m., $12; 202-408-3100. (Gallery Place)
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