Michael Ian Black (born Michael Ian Schwartz; August 12, 1971) is a comedian, actor, writer, and director. He has starred in several TV comedy series, including The State, Ed, Viva Variety, Stella, Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp and Michael & Michael Have Issues. He is also a poker player, appearing on Celebrity Poker Showdown several times. He released a children's book, Chicken Cheeks, in 2009.
Black was born in Chicago, Illinois, to Jill and Robert Schwartz - a store owner and an executive, respectively. He grew up in Hillsborough Township, New Jersey, where he attended Hillsborough High School. His parents divorced when he was three years old. His mother, Jill, came out as a lesbian. When he was twelve, his father had neurological surgery following a mysterious assault. Days after being released from the hospital he was re-admitted for an infection and died as a result of an allergic reaction to an administered medication. His birth name, Schwartz, is derived from the German word "schwarz," which has the same meaning as his stage name, Black. Schwartz changed his name to Michael Ian Black to avoid confusion with the actor Mike Schwartz.
Black attended Stagedoor Manor Performing Arts Training Center in New York and Tisch School of the Arts at New York University, but later dropped out.
Black is known for appearing on VH1's I Love the... series, his Stella comedy troupe, and a variety of other TV series and films. He was also the voice actor behind 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.
He began his career as a member of the comedy group The State and was featured on the television show by 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. His dry, sarcastically irreverent commentary on pop culture artifacts on VH1's "I Love the 70s/80s/90s/New Millennium" series has added to his and the shows' popularity. Black has stated several times on the show that he feels as if he is "doomed to an eternity of doing the 'I Love the...' series". He also makes fun of himself for being a Jewish-American and sarcastically enforcing the 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.
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, although 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".
Black, along with fellow State members Michael Showalter and David Wain, co-starred in and co-wrote 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 wrote the screenplays for two feature film comedies --Wedding Daze (2006) and Run, Fat Boy, Run (2007, co-written with leading actor Simon Pegg). Black also directed Wedding Daze which stars Jason Biggs, Joe Pantoliano, and Isla Fisher.
Black also has some minor screen credits. He appeared twice on the Adult Swim show, Tom Goes to the Mayor, and 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. 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 titled Michael Ian Black Doesn't Understand. The concept was later retooled as Michael & Michael Have Issues; a pilot episode, featuring Michael Showalter, was shot in August 2008. Comedy Central confirmed in February 2009 that a seven-episode run of the show would air in July.
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.
Michael Black appeared in several Sierra Mist andKlondike commercials, as well as an eBay commercial with Showalter.
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 can muster more followers than Burton on the popular networking site Twitter. Black dubbed the feud "LeWar."
In 2010, he started a podcast, Mike and Tom Eat Snacks with his former Ed castmate Tom Cavanagh.
Black co-wrote the book America, You Sexy Bitch: A Love Letter to Freedom with Meghan McCain, which was released to the public June 2012. The two took a road trip across America during the summer of 2011 during which they documented how Americans were living.
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. In 2012 he co-hosted G4 TV with Candice Bailey. 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.
In 2013, he and Michael Showalter launched a podcast called Topics in which the duo discuss evergreen topics in a serious manner, although if something funny comes up, it's okay.
Alongside Jason Ritter, Alexis Bledel, and Kerri Kenney, 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 7th episode was in production, which Fox decided to not air any of. Black played the role of Brian.
He co-hosted the single-season 2013 gameshow Trust Me, I'm a Game Show Host alongside D.L. Hughley, He was also a co-host on Duck Quacks Don't Echo, and one of the guest stars on the short-lived Steve Carell 2014 improv sketch show Riot.
On June 11, 2014, he appeared on Ken Reid's TV Guidance Counselor Podcast.
Black currently plays Peepers, an uptight butler, on the 2015 Comedy Central series Another Period. He also plays the role of Daniel on the 2015 TVLand series, The Jim Gaffigan Show, as well as McKinley in the prequel to 2001's Wet Hot American Summer, entitled Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp, premiering July 31, 2015, on Netflix.
Black currently hosts How to Be Amazing, an in-depth interview podcast show, produced by Michael Ian Black, Jennifer Brennan and Mary Shimkin. It's recorded at Argot Studios in New York City.
Black appears in Smosh: The Movie as Steve YouTube, the germophobic creator and CEO of YouTube. The movie premiered on July 24, 2015, at VidCon 2015 in Los Angeles, California.
Black married Martha Anne Hagen in 1998, and they have two children, Elijah, and Ruthie. They reside in Redding, Connecticut.
Black is an atheist.