Michael Ian Black offers some honest advice from his new book, gets interviewed by Meghan McCain, says filthy things
Yet the pairing is more germane than it might sound: McCain and Black are at work on a book together, tentatively titled America, You Sexy Bitch (initially the title was Stupid For America). Still in its early stages, the project looks to be about the varieties of political experience across the country, and to write it Black and McCain spent months traveling across the country in an R.V., filming interviews and gathering material.
The reason Black was speaking at WORD was to promote his own new book, a comic memoir titled You’re Not Doing It Right, which centers on the honest vicissitudes of marriage and parenthood. McCain was there to interview him. And while the event would eventually wend into the political, it started with the purely comic.
Before cracking the spine of his book, Black spent a few minutes razzing an audience member with rather vertiginous hair, giving a brief rundown of what he imagined the man’s styling regime to be.
"I really want to say I like it," Black said, maintaining that despite the hair’s height, he wasn’t so impressed.
"In keeping with my book, I’m trying to be honest in all things," he continued. The hairdo owner took it in good humor, the ice was broken.
Black read some of his chapter titles, asking the audience which they wanted to hear.
"’Fuck You Alan Alda,’ ‘I Hate My Baby,’ ‘Meredith Wants To Give You A Blow Job.’”
Votes went for "Pills And Booze" and "I Am A Demographic," both of which centered on a familiar litany of adult complaints: subtle depression, ill-fitting marriage, how children really do mark the end of your freedom.
"I’m of the opinion,” Black read in a passage from “Pills and Booze,” “that masking the symptoms is just as good as curing the disease. The disease is depression." Brisk and punchline-driven, Black’s reading lasted about twenty minutes, after which he was joined by McCain, the two squabbling from the get-go like an old (and odd) couple.
McCain looked every bit the Beltway insider in a fine white blouse and spike heels. She interviewed Black James Lipton-style, all overserious, dramatically spoken questions. McCain noted You’re Not Doing It Right’s emotional impact, to which Black replied, "I’m not out there fucking Porsches." He went on to admit, in a less absurd tone, that he wanted to make an "honest appraisal of marriage and fatherhood." Yet for every earnest thing he said, Black was quick with a contrapuntal wisecrack. McCain brought up a part of the book that suggested Black’s wife might have had an affair. Black said that wasn’t the case, but said before they were married, she "fucked a dude and his brother. That’s normal, right?"
Finished discussing Black’s book, the two riffed on their political differences and talked obliquely about their own book project. The contrast between the lefty comic and the kicky daughter of former Republican presidential candidate John McCain seems tailor-made for such a project, but it actually arose pretty much by accident when, one night, on Ambien, Black tweeted at McCain. Not the most auspicious start to a book project, but a start.
"I was a closeted political-phile," Black admitted, explaining that the book has sparked a real interest for him in the political realm. Asked where he expected to be in four years, Black alluded to Obama being re-elected, but McCain corrected herself. “Forty years.” “I’m going on Gingrich’s moon colony," Black said.
Meghan McCain recounted breaking the news of the book project to her mother, Cindy. Mrs. McCain dutifully searched Michael Ian Black on the computer and found a particularly off-putting sketch from his old show Stella.
"The first thing she saw was Michael sucking on a dildo," McCain said.
"It wasn’t a gay thing,” Black explained. “It was Mrs. Claus."
"Cindy’s not a fan."
"Like your mom’s never sucked a dick."
"Oh my god. I am never coming to Brooklyn again."
At one point, McCain admitted, "I’m weirdly obsessed with figuring out Michael. Comedians have a double surface."
The whole reading seemed to have a double surface, between McCain’s raunchy humor and Black’s intensely personal stories. They make a good team, it turns out, especially when their political banter is leavened with so many laughs