July 25th, 2008 5:33 pm | by LocalCut News | Posted In: CLEAN UP

The Last Schmaltz: Michael Ian Black Talks to Jay Horton, Appears On Live Wire

-2Thing is, Willamette Week hasn't much of a literary website. And, though the last stop on
actor/comedian/newly-best selling author Michael Ian Black's book tour deserves attention, LocalCut does seem an odd venue. "To compare it more to music, we'll call it The Last Waltz," Black says. His final reading will be tomorrow night at the Aladdin as part of OPB's cross-cultural cavalcade Live Wire alongside Richmond Fontaine and Derby. "And," he adds via telephone, "if you tap your fingers on the book, it's almost like a drum. If you rip out one of the pages and hold it up to your mouth and blow across the top—that is also a musical instrument."

A self-described "fundit" on VH1's endless series of pop nostalgia fests, former guest host of CBS' Late Late Show, celebrity poker tycoon, and itinerant actor, he's beloved in rather different circles for a series of whimsical essays upon the McSweeney's website entitled Michael Ian Black Is A Very Famous Celebrity—which isn't precisely true, of course. Nevertheless, his first collection of short humor pieces, My Custom Van, shall soon break the NYT best-seller list at number seventeen—edging him ever closer to his much-blogged desire to top David Sedaris.

"I started a literary feud with David Sedaris," Black tells LC, "which turned out to be one-sided. I attacked him because he is America's most beloved memoirist/humorist/etcetera. And I attacked him in an unprovoked manner—calling him all kinds of terrible names like America-hating, French-loving, diminutive—trying to goad him into a fight. He didn't respond, which I suspect is because he had never heard of me. So, from my point of view, I would say the feud is continuing unabated. From his point of view, I would say the feud never began."

Black's probably best known (aside from vocal spots upon the long-lamented Pets.com sock puppet commercials) from a handful of short-lived Comedy Central series—Viva Variety, Stella, the upcoming Michaels Have Issues —alongside fellow veterans of comedy troupe and eventual MTV show The State. Which is where, turns out, he first met Live Wire impresario Courtenay Harmeister. "She wasn't a member of The State, she was...sort of a producer. And she kept producing."

For several years, Harmeister's hosted Livewire—a skillful blend of music, comedy and interviews--to ever growing live audiences as the program threatens national radio syndication. Saturday's show features documentarian Curt Ellis, Rumblefish CEO Paul Anthony, local indie faves Derby, and Americana legends Richmond Fontaine—as well as a talk with Richmond Fontaine's frontman (author of The Motel Life) Willy Vlautin. And, of course, Mr. Black: "If you want to have to have your book signed, I'll be there before and after the show. Come and say hello and get your book signed. If you wanna make out a little, that's fine, we can do that."

Sedaris has never made that offer.


Live Wire
Michael Ian Black
A silly picture of David Sedaris and a monkey
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