Straight-faced and well-groomed comedian Michael Ian Black is probably best known as a cast member and writer for the sketch comedy show The State, which aired for three years on MTV and was canceled after an unsuccessful switch to CBS. He later contributed to the book State by State With The State and joined three other cast members to write and star in the European satire Viva Variety on Comedy Central. He played '80s-obsessed crooner Johnny Bluejeans, sidekick to Mr. Laupin (Thomas Lennon) and the former Mrs. Laupin (Kerri Kenney). When the show ended in 1997, Black teamed with State members David Wain and Michael Showalter to form the comedy troupe Stella, which has since had a continual run on-stage in New York. After a few TV guest appearances and commercials (such as the voice of the Pets.com sock puppet), he appeared on the short-lived VH1 sketch show Random Play. He tried a few other unsuccessful TV pilots before appearing in the never-released independent film Big Helium Dog and the straight-to-video movie The Bogus Witch Project. His made his film debut with the role of McKinley in the satire Wet Hot American Summer, directed by Wain and starring Showalter. In 2000, Black joined the cast of NBC's comedy-drama Ed in the role of Phil Stubbs, the manager of Stuckeybowl. The next year, he hosted the Candid Camera-style NBC series Spy TV. In 2003, he contributed his deadpan humor to VH1's I Love the '80s: Strikes Back. In 2005 he reunited with fellow State alums for the short-lived sketch comedy show Stella, and he continued to act in various State related projects like The Ten and Wanderlust, and teamed yet again with Michael Showalter for the comedy series Michael and Michael Have Issues.
Biography by Andrea LeVasseur
- Cofounded a sketch-comedy troupe, the State, with fellow New York University students. The troupe went on to appear in their own MTV series called The State.
- Provided the voice for the Pets.com sock puppet.
- Appeared in commercials for Sierra Mist and Klondike.
- Served as guest host for the Late, Late Show while auditioning for the permanent hosting gig, which ultimately went to Craig Ferguson.
- Published My Custom Van (and 50 Other Mind-Blowing Essays That Will Blow Your Mind All Over Face) in 2008 and a children's book titled Chicken Cheeks in 2009.
- Started a podcast that reviews snack foods with his former Ed costar Tom Cavanagh in 2011.