Michael Ian Black

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Michael Ian Black
Michael Ian Black May 2015.jpg
Black at the May 2015 Montclair Film Festival
Birth nameMichael Ian Schwartz
Born (1971-08-12) August 12, 1971 (age 51)
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
MediumFilm, television, books
GenresObservational comedy
Martha Anne Hagen
(m. 1998)
Notable works and rolesThe I Love the... series, The State, Stella, Michael & Michael Have Issues, Another Period

Michael Ian Black (born Michael Ian Schwartz; August 12, 1971)[1] is an American comedian, actor, writer, and director. He has starred in several TV comedy series, including The State, Viva Variety, Stella, Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp, Michael & Michael Have Issues, and Another Period. In the late 1990s to early 2000s, he was the puppeteer and voice actor for the Pets.com sock puppet dog. He also appeared on Celebrity Poker Showdown several times. He released his first children's book, Chicken Cheeks, in 2009, and has since released six more, in addition to four books for adults.

Early life[edit]

Black was born in Chicago, Illinois, to Jill and Robert Schwartz, a store owner and an executive, respectively.[2] His family is Jewish.[3] He grew up in Hillsborough Township, New Jersey,[4] where he attended Hillsborough High School. His parents divorced when he was three years old; his mother, Jill, later came out as a lesbian.[5] Black's father died at age 39 due to a head injury apparently suffered in an assault and allergic reaction during subsequent surgery.[6]

His birth name, Schwartz, is derived from the German word schwarz, which means black. He changed his name to Michael Ian Black to avoid confusion with the actor Mike Schwartz.[7]

Black briefly attended New York University, but dropped out to portray Raphael in the promotional campaign for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles concert tour.[8]



Black began his career as a member of the comedy group The State and was featured on the television show of the same name on MTV. He continued working with members of that group on the show Viva Variety in the role of "Johnny Bluejeans", and in the film Wet Hot American Summer, directed by frequent collaborator David Wain.

Black also appeared on VH1's I Love the... series, his comedy troupe Stella, and in various TV series and films. From 1998 to 2000, he was the puppeteer and voice actor for the Pets.com sock puppet, was featured in commercials for Sierra Mist, hosted the first season of NBC's hidden-camera show Spy TV, made several appearances in the film Big Helium Dog, and had a supporting role on the NBC dramedy Ed, later becoming the mascot for BarNone. He would later describe his experience as the sock puppet as “painful but fun”.[9]

His dry, sarcastically irreverent commentary on pop culture artifacts on VH1's I Love the '70s/'80s/'90s/New Millennium series added to his and the shows' popularity. Black stated several times on the show that he felt as if he was "doomed to an eternity" of doing the I Love the... series. He also made fun of himself for being a Jewish-American and sarcastically enforcing Jewish stereotypes.

Black is a poker enthusiast and appeared in five episodes of Celebrity Poker Showdown beginning in 2003, playing for the Endeavor House charity. In 2004 and 2006 he played for the charity MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger. In 2006, he came in third (receiving $100,000 for his charity). Black was praised for his humor and his skilled poker play by Dave Foley, host of Celebrity Poker Showdown, and by poker experts Phil Gordon and Phil Hellmuth.[10][11]

In the latter part of 2004, he acted as guest host of CBS's The Late Late Show while auditioning for the permanent hosting role. He was a finalist for the position, but the job eventually went to Craig Ferguson. He is also an occasional contributor to the online edition of McSweeney's, where he writes a column titled "Michael Ian Black Is a Very Famous Celebrity".[12]

Black, along with fellow State members Michael Showalter and David Wain, co-starred in and cowrote the Comedy Central series Stella, a television adaptation of their popular stage show. The ten-episode first season debuted in June 2005 and was not renewed for a second season.

Black at the 2007 Brooklyn Book Festival

Black wrote the screenplays for two feature film comedies —Wedding Daze (2006) and Run, Fat Boy, Run (2007, co-written with leading actor Simon Pegg).[13] Black also directed Wedding Daze which stars Jason Biggs, Joe Pantoliano, and Isla Fisher.[14]

Black also has some minor screen credits. He appeared twice on the Adult Swim show Tom Goes to the Mayor, was a guest voice on Seth Green's stop-motion show Robot Chicken, and later did a bit for Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!. He appeared on the Comedy Central shows Crank Yankers and Reno 911!. He had a cameo in David Wain's 2007 film The Ten as a prison guard. In September 2007, he released his first stand-up comedy album, I Am a Wonderful Man. In addition, he starred on the TV series Reaper as a gay demon trying to destroy the devil through acts of kindness.[15] In 2008, Black published a book titled My Custom Van ... And 50 Other Mind-Blowing Essays That Will Blow Your Mind All Over Your Face. Also in 2008, he hosted Reality Bites Back, a scripted reality show on Comedy Central.

Black then developed another show for Comedy Central, Michael Ian Black Doesn't Understand.[16] The concept was later retooled as Michael & Michael Have Issues; a pilot episode, featuring Michael Showalter, was shot in August 2008.[17] Comedy Central confirmed in February 2009 that a seven-episode run of the show would air in July.[18]

His first children's book, Chicken Cheeks, was published by Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing on January 6, 2009. The book is illustrated by Kevin Hawkes. In a starred review, Kirkus called the book "a perfect collaboration of text and illustration." An alternative review was aired on the Michael Showalter Showalter.[19]

Black appeared in several Sierra Mist and[20][21][22] Klondike commercials,[23] as well as an eBay commercial with Showalter.[24]

On February 21, 2009, Black instigated a "Celeb-Feud" — or as he called it, the "World's First Twitter War" — with LeVar Burton to see if he could muster more Twitter followers than Burton. Black dubbed the feud "LeWar."[25]


In 2010 Black started the podcast Mike and Tom Eat Snacks with his former Ed castmate Tom Cavanagh.[26] Black and Meghan McCain cowrote the book America, You Sexy Bitch: A Love Letter to Freedom in June 2012. The two took a road trip across America during the summer of 2011, documenting how Americans were living.[27][28]

In 2012, he starred as the host Bill Tundle in the web series Burning Love, a spoof of the TV series The Bachelor and The Bachelorette. He also co-hosted G4 TV with Candace Bailey that year. He has occasionally appeared as a guest on Red Eye with Greg Gutfeld. He stars in Adult Swim's late night infomercial parody, You're Whole, as Randall Tyree Mandersohn. After a guest appearance in the pilot, it was announced in 2013 that Black would join the FOX comedy Us & Them in a regular role.[29]

Black and Bobcat Goldthwait at the 2015 Montclair Film Festival

In 2013, he and Michael Showalter launched the podcast Topics.[30] Alongside Jason Ritter, Alexis Bledel, and Kerri Kenney-Silver, Black appeared in the unaired 2013 Fox sitcom Us & Them, a 13-episode US adaptation of the hit UK sitcom Gavin & Stacey, which was canceled while the seventh episode was in production. Fox decided to not air any of the episodes. Black played the role of Brian.

He co-hosted the single-season 2013 game show Trust Me, I'm a Game Show Host alongside D.L. Hughley.[31] He was also a co-host on Duck Quacks Don't Echo,[32] and one of the guest stars on the short-lived Steve Carell 2014 improv sketch show Riot.[33][34][35] On June 11, 2014, he appeared on Ken Reid's TV Guidance Counselor Podcast.

Black played Peepers, an uptight butler, on the Comedy Central series Another Period. He also played the role of Daniel on the TVLand series The Jim Gaffigan Show, as well as McKinley in the prequel to 2001's Wet Hot American Summer, titled Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp.

Black hosts How to Be Amazing, an in-depth interview podcast show, produced by Black, Jennifer Brennan and Mary Shimkin. It is largely recorded at Argot Studios in New York City.[36] In June 2017, Black recorded an episode in Los Angeles with pop star Katy Perry for her livestream marathon, Katy Perry Live: Witness World Wide.[37]

Black appears in Smosh: The Movie as Steve YouTube, the fictional germophobic creator and CEO of YouTube. The movie premiered on July 24, 2015, at VidCon 2015 in Los Angeles.

In 2018, Black began hosting a new podcast titled Obscure with Michael Ian Black in which he reads works of classic literature and makes comments about the books as he reads. In Season 1 he reads Jude the Obscure by author Thomas Hardy.[38] In Season 2 he reads Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. In Season 3 he reads Emily Brontë's Wuthering Heights.[39]

In May 2020 Black returned to a rebooted Reno 911! in a new recurring role as Captain Schwartz, named for his birthname. Schwartz is the commander of a heavily militarized parody of Hatzalah, the Jewish volunteer medical emergency service.

Personal life[edit]

Black married Martha Anne Hagen in 1998.[40] They have two children,[41][42] Elijah (born 2001), and Ruthie (born 2003).[43][44] They reside in Savannah, Georgia.[41][42][45]

Black's parents were Jewish. He is an atheist.[46]



  • My Custom Van: And 50 Other Mind-Blowing Essays that Will Blow Your Mind All Over Your Face (2008)
  • You're Not Doing It Right: Tales of Marriage, Sex, Death, and Other Humiliations (2012)
  • America, You Sexy Bitch: A Love Letter to Freedom (with Meghan McCain; 2012)
  • Navel Gazing: True Tales of Bodies, Mostly Mine (but also my mom's, which I know sounds weird) (2016)
  • A Better Man: A (Mostly Serious) Letter to My Son (2020)
Children's books
  • Chicken Cheeks (2009)
  • The Purple Kangaroo (2009)
  • A Pig Parade Is a Terrible Idea (2011)
  • I'm Bored (2012)
  • Naked! (2014)
  • Cock-a-Doodle-Doo-Bop! (2015)
  • A Child's First Book of Trump (2016) ISBN 978-1481488006
  • I'm Sad (2018)
  • I'm Sorry (2021)
  • I'm Worried (2021)



  1. ^ Online version is titled "A pandemic college essay that probably won’t get you into Brown".


  • Comedy For Gracious Living by The State (recorded 1996, released 2010)
  • I am a Wonderful Man (2007)
  • Very Famous (2011)
  • Noted Expert (2016)



Year Title Role Notes
1991 Cults: Saying No Under Pressure Male student Documentary
1999 Big Helium Dog Martin Huber
2000 The Bogus Witch Project Stephen Hawking
2001 Wet Hot American Summer McKinley
2002 Stella shorts Michael 27 short films
2005 The Baxter Ed
2005 Alchemy Jerry (voice)
2005 Partner(s) Christopher
2006 Wedding Daze Writer, director
2007 Run, Fatboy, Run Writer
2007 The Ten Prison Guard Jamberg Saivon
2007 Reno 911!: Miami Ron of Ron's Tattoo
2011 Take Me Home Tonight Pete Bering
2012 Wanderlust Himself
2012 This Is 40 Accountant
2013 Hell Baby Dr. Marshall
2014 They Came Together Trevor
2015 Smosh: The Movie Steve YouTube
2016 Slash Denis
2016 Folk Hero & Funny Guy Randy
2019 Sextuplets Doug
2022 Linoleum Tony Post-production
TBA Spinning Gold Filming


Year Title Role Notes
1992–93 You Wrote It, You Watch It Various 25 episodes; also writer
1993–95 The State Various 27 episodes; also co-creator, writer
1994 NYPD Blue Joey Diaz Episode: "Rockin' Robin"
1997 Viva Variety Johnny Blue Jeans 16 episodes; also co-creator, writer
1999 Hercules: The Animated Series Voice Episode: "Hercules and the Romans"
2000–04 Ed Phil Stubbs 83 episodes
2001 Spy TV Himself (host) 11 episodes
2002 I Love the '80s Himself 9 episodes
2003 I Love the '70s Himself 7 episodes
2003 I Love the '80s Strikes Back Himself 6 episodes
2003 Crank Yankers Voice 2 episodes
2003–06 Celebrity Poker Showdown Himself 5 episodes
2003–08, 2020 Reno 911! Chris / Kevin the Sex Offender / Hatzolah Captain Schwartz 5 episodes
2004 I Love the '90s Himself 7 episodes
2004, 2008 Comedy Central Presents Himself 2 episodes
2005 I Love the '90s: Part Deux Himself 3 episodes
2005 I Love the '80s 3-D Himself 10 episodes
2005 I Love the Holidays Himself
2005 Stella Michael 10 episodes; also co-creator, writer
2005–06 Tom Goes to the Mayor Dr. Ian Black (voice) 2 episodes
2006 I Love Toys Himself
2006 I Love the '70s: Volume 2 Himself 7 episodes
2006 Cheap Seats: Without Ron Parker EZtech Executive / Hugh FitzSimmons 2 episodes
2006-2012 Robot Chicken Himself / Mo-Larr / E! Entertainment Host / Mr. Ollivander (voices) 3 episodes
2007 Wainy Days Waiter 2 episodes
2008 I Love the New Millennium Himself 7 episodes
2008 Reality Bites Back Himself (host) 8 episodes
2008 The Xtacles Chase Fontaine (voice) 2 episodes
2008–09 Reaper Steve 6 episodes
2009 Michael & Michael Have Issues Himself 7 episodes; also co-creator, writer
2010 Mercy Mark Gunther Episode: "I Saw This Pig and I Thought of You"
2010–11 Backwash Fleming Web-series, 11 episodes
2011 Michael Ian Black: Very Famous Himself Stand-up special
2012–13 Burning Love Bill Tundle 37 episodes
2012–14 You're Whole Randall Tyree Mandersohn 8 episodes; also creator, writer
2013 Trust Me, I'm a Game Show Host Himself (co-host) 10 episodes
2013–14 Us & Them Brian 7 episodes
2013–16 Inside Amy Schumer Martin Daniels / Lawyer 4 episodes
2014 Duck Quacks Don't Echo Himself (co-host) 12 episodes
2014 Maron Michael Ian Black Episode: "Marc on Talking Dead"
2015 Deadbeat TJ Episode: "The Blowfish Job"
2015 Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp McKinley 7 episodes
2015–16 The Jim Gaffigan Show Daniel Benjamin 22 episodes
2015–18 Another Period Peepers 30 episodes
2016 Easiest Game Show Ever Himself (host)
2016 Michael Ian Black: Noted Expert Himself Stand-up special
2017 Wet Hot American Summer: Ten Years Later McKinley / George H. W. Bush 7 episodes
2017 The High Court with Doug Benson Guest bailiff Episode: "Snakes in the Drain"
2017 Dogs in a Park Various dogs (voice) 8 episodes
2017 The Chris Gethard Show Himself Episode: "Everything is Terrifying"
2018 The Good Fight Stephen Rankin-Hall 2 episodes
2018–19 Insatiable Pastor Mike 5 episodes
2018 Bobcat Goldthwait's Misfits & Monsters Satan Episode: "Devil in the Blue Jeans"[47]
2019 Bless This Mess Cheff Episode: "Omaha"
2020 Helpsters Sea Lovin' Sam Episode: "Amazing Atticus/Sea Lovin' Sam"
2022 Would I Lie to You? (US) Himself Episode: "Boy in a Barrel"


  1. ^ "Happy Birthday to Redding's Michael Ian Black". 12 August 2016.
  2. ^ "Michael Ian Black Biography (1971-)". Filmreference.com. Retrieved 2013-03-15.
  3. ^ Zaltzman, Lior (June 23, 2016). "Jewish Comedian Donald Trump Children's Book Rubs Racists the Wrong Way". Haaretz. Retrieved June 12, 2017.
  4. ^ Meoli, Daria (October 2005). "That's Entertainment". New Jersey Monthly. Archived from the original on December 14, 2005. Retrieved December 26, 2007. Add Stella, the strange Comedy Network brainchild of Princeton native Michael Showalter and Hillsborough native Michael Ian Black—he played wacky bowling-alley employee Phil in Ed, filmed all over the state—and Ohioan David Wain.
  5. ^ Rule, Doug (March 1, 2012). "Gay by Association: Michael Ian Black is an affiliated member of the gay community: Books section". Metro Weekly. London, England: DMG Media. Retrieved March 15, 2013.
  6. ^ Michael Ian Black, You're Not Doing It Right, Simon & Schuster, 2012. p.109-111
  7. ^ Black, Michael (July 30, 1999). "Big Helium Dog". IMDB. Retrieved 2010-03-16.
  8. ^ Buck, David (October 9, 2020). "Turtlemania, Revisited". Tedium.
  9. ^ "Mondays with Authors: Michael Ian Black, from Hillsborough to Hollywood".
  10. ^ "Phil Gordon interview". HoboTrashcan. March 14, 2006. Retrieved March 15, 2013.
  11. ^ "Phil Hellmuth - Businessman, Host, and Poker Legend". Poker News. May 16, 2006. Retrieved March 15, 2013.
  12. ^ [1] Archived May 26, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
  13. ^ BBC Movies Review of Run, Fatboy, Run[2]. Retrieved on September 14, 2007.
  14. ^ The Internet Movie Database, The Pleasure of Your Company[3] retrieved on September 14, 2007
  15. ^ Miller, Shaun (December 12, 2007). "Happy Reaper: Michael Ian Black". Express. Washington DC: Nash Holdings, LLC. Archived from the original on April 16, 2008.
  16. ^ "Michael Ian Black: My Whereabouts". Michaelianblack.typepad.com. 2008-06-18. Retrieved 2013-03-15.
  17. ^ "Michael Ian Black: Come See Michael & Michael Have Issues". Michaelianblack.typepad.com. 2008-07-31. Retrieved 2013-03-15.
  18. ^ Martin, Denise (18 February 2009). "Comedy Central commits to 'Michael and Michael Have Issues'". LA Times. Retrieved 19 February 2009.
  19. ^ Connected Ventures LLC. Copyright 1999-2010. (2008-12-10). "Michael Showalter Showalter: Michael Ian Black - CollegeHumor Video". Collegehumor.com. Retrieved 2013-03-15.
  20. ^ "Sierra Mist "Wand"". YouTube. May 22, 2006. Retrieved December 28, 2011.
  21. ^ "Sierra Mist "Jinx"". YouTube. May 30, 2007. Retrieved December 28, 2011.
  22. ^ "Sierra Mist Karate". YouTube. March 30, 2007. Retrieved December 28, 2011.
  23. ^ "Twitter / @michaelianblack:Shooting some Klondike com". Twitter.com. August 2, 2009. Retrieved December 28, 2011.
  24. ^ "eBay: Michaels on used gear". YouTube. November 2, 2009. Retrieved December 28, 2011.
  25. ^ Mumm, Chad (June 5, 2009). "Comedian Michael Ian Black to Actor LeVar Burton: "It's Twitter War!"". Switched.com. Retrieved December 28, 2011.
  26. ^ michaelianblack (2011-02-24). "Here I Am". Michaelianblack.tumblr.com. Retrieved 2013-03-15.
  27. ^ Mauldin, Kit. "Interview: Meghan McCain on "America, You Sexy Bitch"". Portland Monthly. Retrieved 13 June 2012.
  28. ^ "Interview with Michael Ian Black and Meghan McCain". 7th Avenue Project Radio Show. June 10, 2012. Retrieved June 10, 2012.
  29. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (August 23, 2013). "Aasif Mandvi & Michael Ian Black Join New Fox Series 'Us & Them'". Deadline Hollywood. Los Angeles, California: Penske Media Corporation. Retrieved August 28, 2013.
  30. ^ "Topics Podcast at EarWolf.com". Ear Wolf. Retrieved May 18, 2015.
  31. ^ "Trust Me, I'm a Game Show Host - Coming Soon to TBS". Tbs.com. Archived from the original on October 5, 2013. Retrieved October 23, 2013.
  32. ^ "Duck Quacks Don't Echo". National Geographic Channel. Retrieved February 23, 2014.
  33. ^ Kroeger, Jake (April 8, 2014). "Fox Improv Show RIOT Will Feature Steve Carell, Jason Alexander, Cheryl Hines". Nerdist. Retrieved April 10, 2014.
  34. ^ Geddes, Robin (April 8, 2014). "Steve Carell, Big Bang Theory's Mayim Bialik for new Fox series Riot". Digital Spy. Retrieved April 10, 2014.
  35. ^ Swift, Andy (April 8, 2014). "Exclusive: Steve Carell and Cheryl Hines Among Celebrity Guests in Fox Improv Series Riot". TV Line. Retrieved April 10, 2014.
  36. ^ "About —". howtobeamazingshow.com.
  37. ^ Russell, Erica (June 10, 2017). "Watch Katy Perry's 24 Hour 'Witness World Wide' Live Stream". PopCrush. Retrieved June 12, 2017.
  38. ^ "Michael Ian Black Is Back, All Right!". NPR. 15 February 2019. Retrieved 12 January 2022.
  39. ^ "Obscure with Michael Ian Black". Apple Podcasts. Retrieved 10 May 2022.
  40. ^ "WEDDINGS; Martha Hagen, Michael Black". The New York Times. New York City. October 18, 1998. Retrieved March 15, 2013.
  41. ^ a b Grandjean, Patricia (September 2009). "Michael Ian Black". Connecticut.
  42. ^ a b Leone Shewfelt, Raechal (February 23, 2012). "Comedian Michael Ian Black’s ‘House Hunters’ Obsession". Yahoo! Celebrity.
  43. ^ Stemer, Zak (January 5, 2014). "Back to Black: Michael Ian Black". Chicago Sun-Times. Chicago, Illinois: Sun-Times Media Company. Archived from the original on May 3, 2016. Retrieved March 6, 2019.
  44. ^ Black, Michael Ian (2012). You're Not Doing It Right: Tales of Marriage, Sex, Death, and Other Humiliations. New York City: Gallery Books. p. 140. ISBN 978-1439167861 – via Internet Archive. Michael Ian Black, Elijah, Ruthie.
  45. ^ Coyle, Jake (February 22, 2012). "Rebuffed By Mainstream, Black Turns Humor Inward". The Huffington Post. New York City: Huffington Post Media Group. Retrieved March 6, 2019.
  46. ^ Stroh, Katie (February 29, 2012). "Michael Ian Black bares soul, makes us laugh with memoir". The Daily Texan. Austin, Texas: Texas Student Media. Retrieved June 9, 2012.
  47. ^ "Michael Ian Black Is Satan in this Exclusive Clip from Bobcat Goldthwait's Misfits and Monsters". pastemagazine.com. Retrieved 2018-08-24.

External links[edit]

Preceded by
start of series
Spy TV host
Season 1 (2001)
Succeeded by
Ali Landry
(Season 2)