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Posted: Monday February 27, 2012
By VIRGINIA ROHAN

WHO: Michael Ian Black.

WHAT: Signing his new book, "You're Not Doing It Right: Tales of Marriage, Sex, Death and other Humiliations."

WHEN: 7 p.m. Tuesday.

WHERE: Books & Greetings, 271 Livingston St., Northvale; 201-784-2665, booksandgreetings.com.

HOW MUCH: Free with purchase of book ($23.99).

FOR MORE INFORMATION: michaelianblack.net.


It's been almost eight years since the beloved NBC dramedy "Ed" went off the air and the (since demolished) Stuckeybowl studio complex on Paris Avenue in Northvale was shuttered.

Michael Ian Black, who played the show's quirky bowling alley manager, has not been back to the area since then, but he'll return to Northvale Tuesday, this time to appear at Books & Greetings.

"I'm expecting the mayor to come out, I'm expecting a whole marching band," Black jokes.

His new book, "You're Not Doing It Right," is a memoir that blends humor and poignancy. He writes about everything from his obsession with "Fat Kevin Federline" (or FKF) to the death of his father at age 39, several weeks after he had emergency brain surgery for an assault-related injury. That topic is one he rarely talks about and has never written about.

"I was trying hard not to be either glib or schmaltzy. I can be both of those things, sometimes at the same time," he says of the book's tonal mix. "And so, it was constantly a process of listening to myself and trying to be fearless about editing, but also … hoping that in writing as honestly as I could that the glibness would fall away and it would not be schmaltzy."

Black, who now lives in Connecticut, grew up in Hillsborough and first became known as part of The State, a comedy troupe that had a same-named MTV show. He wrote this book last year, he says, partly because he was about to turn 40, and partly because he wanted to write something "more coherent" than his first book, "My Custom Van," a collection of funny essays that became a bestseller.

Honeymoon incident

He also wanted to "become a better writer and … to open myself up more in my comedic work and learn how to be hopefully funny and vulnerable at the same time."

The dedication page says "For Martha." It's clear Black loves his wife dearly, though he writes with brutal honesty about their struggles, especially when their son, and later their daughter, were infants with colic. "I feel there's a lot of books, particularly by men, who [describe] their spouses as being saintly or better than them or this sort of perfect being that they could never hope to aspire to," says Black, who thought it was important to recognize both parties' imperfections. "And that's OK. We accept each other for who we are, and one of us isn't necessarily better than the other, although, to be fair, I'm a little bit better than her."

The book's title came from an incident that occurred during their honeymoon in Amsterdam. "We decided to get high, and I'd never smoked pot before. She had to give me instruction on how to handle a marijuana cigarette, which I tried to do, and it wasn't working, so she said to me these five words, which I thought sort of neatly summed up my entire life — 'You're not doing it right.' "

Black — who also co-wrote a "political" book, "America, You Sexy Bitch," with Meghan McCain that's due out later this year — still does projects with his pals from The State ("We continually work together in different permutations and I imagine we'll continue to do so forever"), and last year he "really focused on" doing stand-up, to hone his craft.

Asked if there's anything else he'd like to say, Black deadpans, "Well, I'm just thrilled that the Bergen County Record called 'You're Not Doing It Right' the best book of the year and possibly of all time."

Did we call it that?

"No, but if you quote me [saying that] in this article, then you did."

Email: rohan@northjersey.com

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