By combining off-the-wall humor with dry, deadpan wit, Michael Ian Black (born Michael Schwartz) rose through the ranks of comedy following his debut on MTV's The State. Black joined the MTV show during its inaugural year in 1993, having recently left New York University's Tisch School of the Arts before graduation (a decision he would later mock on the standup comedy album I Am a Wonderful Man). Mixing sketch comedy with clips of popular alternative music, the series ran from 1993 to 1995, at which point it was sold to CBS and unceremoniously canned after a make-or-break Halloween episode fell short of the network's expected ratings. The State's 11 cast members went on to pursue other humorous adventures -- often in tandem with one another -- and Black resurfaced in Comedy Central's Viva Variety before aligning himself with former State members Michael Showalter and David Wain. The three soon became some of the most recognizable names in comedy, generating such cults films as Wet Home American Summer and The Baxter and forming the zany comedy troupe Stella.
Black's irreverent humor was broadcast to an even wider audience when he became a regular commentator on VH1's I Love The... series and was crowned editor-at-large of the revamped Cracked magazine in 2006. At the same time, his writing credits extended to feature film screenplays (Wedding Daze in 2006 and Run, Fat Boy, Run in 2007) and the publishing world, where he penned humorous pieces for Dave Eggers' McSweeney's series and even wrote his own children's book. I Am a Wonderful Man, a sardonic album of standup comedy that marked Black's CD debut, was released in 2007. Very Famous would follow in 2011, featuring cover art that paid homage to Dr. Dre’s classic album The Chronic. ~ Andrew Leahey