Being a rebellious smart-ass helped comedian Michael Ian Black launch his career. And it occasionally got him into trouble. “Once I called the head of MTV a drunk,” he told me. “She was very offended.” It didn’t help that he was working for MTV at the time, as a co-creator and star of the ‘90s sketch show The State.
At 44 years old, Michael’s comedy still has an acerbic bite. But in his personal life, he’s embraced all the trappings of Rockwellian stability: a new house in the Connecticut suburbs, a wife of 17 years, two kids and a dog. Of course, all of those things come with some anxiety—particularly, the house. “I have a house I can’t afford,” he lamented. “The end is nigh.”
Michael's also trying to take care of his mom and younger sister, though he lives thousands of miles away from them. Michael’s mom survived uterine cancer but has spent more than ten years dealing with the effects of her treatment. And his sister, Susan, who has Down Syndrome, lives in an adult home without any family nearby. "It’s sort of in stasis right now," he said about his sister’s living situation. "I just sort of feel paralyzed. I don’t know what the right thing to do is."
Michael’s anxieties also extend to himself—specifically, to his middle-aged body. “Currently top of mind is my waistline,” he says. And he feels career pressure too. "I’m tired of being somebody who has had a nice little career but hasn’t ever found any sort of mainstream success," Michael told me. "I don’t particularly want to be famous in any in any real way, but I’d like to have just a little bit more control over the kind of things I do."