You’re Not Doing It Right

One of the many reasons why I love Michael Ian Black is because he’s so good at keeping a straight face. He’s dry, arid even, and the result is this squirmy, slightly uncomfortable humor. You never know when he’s kidding. He can take a joke very, very, brilliantly far this way. If you don’t believe me, listen to his podcast with Tom Cavanagh. He riffs like no one else.

You’re Not Doing It Right, his memoir (I guess? People are writing these younger and younger these days. But okay.), was probably not written for me. I suspect he was aiming at fortyish dudes like himself, a sort of “I’ve been there too, pal,” type of thing. Then again, I’m sure he doesn’t give a shit that I read it. By that I mean I’m sure he’s fine with it either way. By that I mean he really doesn’t give a shit, because he has no idea that I read it.

It’s no bother. I loved it. It wasn’t laugh-out-loud silly-clever-funny like My Custom Van, but it wasn’t supposed to be, either. I quickly found out, like I suspect most did, that MIB’s earnest, sincere side is even more likable than his quasi-jerkface comedic persona. He’s an incredibly sensitive guy (we had to have known it all along though) with a penchant for saying the honest, self-deprecating thing that everyone else is too much of a pussy to admit out loud. He’s also been through enough shit to have an incredible amount of perspective, but not so much so that he’s announcing his expertise in the subjects of marriage, fatherhood, aging and dying parents, and fame with an air of pomposity.

The book is especially worth reading if you’re a fan of his, like me, because you’ll appreciate him even more. It’s a quick read, so I won’t get into too many details. Instead I’ll just leave you with some immortalized quotes, as I am wont to do, which I think express just how truly funny and deeply poignant his writing is. I wish he had included a few amusing pictures, because that’s what I guess I’ve come to expect from these sorts of books. Then again, it was fun imagining floppy-haired MIB making his way through adolescence and bumming around New York in the 90s, pining after his future wife.

p. 14 // “I would estimate that well over half of my friends also came from ‘broken homes,’ a phrase I have always found needlessly melodramatic: ‘Have you heard? Michael’s home is broken.’ ‘My God, how will he bathe?'”

p. 77 // “If I amortize the costs of the wedding on an annual basis, the longer we stay married the less the wedding will have cost. For example, if we stay married for thirty thousand years, it works out to only a dollar a year.”

p. 98 // “How many books have been written about terrible fathers? I do not want to be the sort of father that inspires art.”

p. 159 // “How did I end up shrouding my best self in this marriage? When did our definition of ourselves as a couple become about the things we had to do instead of the people we want to be?”

p. 172 // “When we go out, sometimes I just skip to the back of the drinks menu and order the most effeminate-sounding item they serve. ‘I’ll have a glass of the house pinot noir,’ Martha might say. ‘And for you, sir?’ ‘I’ll have the Breezy Tampon.'”

p. 238 // “When people talk about ‘growing old together,’ what they are really talking about is the desire to see somebody all the way through, to connect your life with somebody in such a deep way that the word old loses whatever scary power it might have had on us alone.”