Book Article

Michael Ian Black: On Marriage...and Sex With Bradley Cooper

The comedian and actor reveals a serious side in his memoir, ''You're Not Doing It Right.'' Well, serious-ish. Black tells us about his loathing for Alan Alda and why raising kids is like being a prisoner at Abu Ghraib

Your previous book, My Custom Van, was a collection of comedic essays...
Oh, how delightful!

...but You're Not Doing It Right is a very personal memoir in which you write about your father's premature death, your mother's lesbianism, and your sister, who has Down syndrome. Why did you decide to pen such a revealing book?
I had no desire, really, to write a memoir — and I still despise the word — because, to me, it connotes all kinds of pretentious aspirations. But I knew if I wrote another book it had to be more coherent. I felt I had to be more personal.

Your mother raised you to be an Alan Alda-esque man, which seems to have left you with an abiding hatred of the M*A*S*H star.
Alan Alda was my mother's role model for what a man should be. It is impossible to live up to the standards Alan Alda sets. So I will repeat in print: F--- you, Alan Alda, you son of a bitch.

Much of the book concerns your marriage. Did Mrs. Ian Black have any kind of veto power over what you wrote?
That was a big conversation with us. She insisted she get the power of veto. I said, ''If an author writes something, their spouses don't get to veto s---.'' In the end, we decided she would have a nonbinding vote.

You write that you were initially attracted to your wife because she was ''a bitch.'' She didn't have a problem with that?
No.

Thus maybe proving her nonbitchiness?
She's not. I could not love her more.

But you didn't love her enough to help her paint the nursery when she was pregnant. Did you really spend 10 hours a day playing online poker while she did that?
I probably played more like 14 or 16 hours a day. I was just not prepared mentally to accept I was going to be a father. I became a huge a--hole.

You now have two children and compare fatherhood to being held prisoner at Abu Ghraib. Isn't that a bit of an exaggeration?
I lay out the evidence point by point in the book, and it seems like it matches up pretty well with what being a parent is: constant sleep deprivation, sensory overload, humiliating photos.

Your regular collaborator Michael Showalter recently said a Wet Hot American Summer sequel was ''absolutely happening.''
It's not true. It's not not true. But he made it sound like the movie was in preproduction, and it's not. Everybody is basically on board, and he and [Wet Hot director] David Wain have been working on a script. But it's not locked into place.

Are you looking forward to the possibility of filming another steamy sex scene with Bradley Cooper?
If Bradley Cooper will have me, he could be the ''top'' this time.

Originally posted Feb 24, 2012 Published in issue #1196 Mar 02, 2012 Order article reprints
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