Inside Late Night With Mark Malkoff Ep 5: Michael Ian Black

Over his 30+ year comedy career, Michael Ian Black has made nearly two dozen appearances on late-night shows, sitting down opposite all four of the current network hosts—Colbert, Fallon, Kimmel and Meyers.

He was also nearly a late-night host himself. In 2004 he was one of two finalists to replace Craig Kilborn on The Late Late Show—the other being Craig Ferguson. According to lore, he all but had the gig until he flubbed a last-minute sitdown with then-CBS president Les Moonves, who is said to have remarked “How am I going to give this guy the show? He can’t even look me in the eye.” 

In this episode of Inside Late Night, Black tells Mark Malkoff his side of that story. He also discusses his early days with his college comedy troupe The State, their rise to MTV stardom, and their ill-fated partnership with CBS, which at one point planned to program them against Saturday Night Live.

In addition to his prolific career on television, film, and the standup stage, Black is a fantastic writer. He’s authored a dozen books, including A Better Man: A (Mostly Serious) Letter to My Son, and publishes short essays on a near-daily basis to his Substack.

Click the embed below to listen now, or find Inside Late Night on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or wherever you listen to podcasts.

Show Transcript

Mark Malkoff: Michael Ian Black, thanks for talking with us. 

Michael Ian Black: My pleasure. 

I don’t know if you’re going to remember this, but a couple of the guests already have talked about this, the first time I met them. We’re going back to October of 1994. I had just moved to New York to go to NYU, and it’s the fall of ’94. And we’re in the green room of Saturday Night Live. John Travolta is hosting, musical guest is Seal, and you and Tom Lennon are there. I am there. You were a guest of Janeane Garofalo. Janeane would come in every so often to say hello. Remember, Jeremy Piven was there in the green room, Lisa Loeb, do you have any recollection of this? 

No. (laughing) 

Yeah, you were like 22 or 23. 

I remember going to SNL. I remember being, I’m still friends with Janeane, but I don’t remember any of the specific shows I was at, you’d think I’d remember. 

Do you remember any of the ones that you were at? I mean, this was the green room that overlooks the studio. You’re on the ninth floor. Do you remember who hosted when you did go?

No, no memory. This is mostly what I remember about those, about going to SNL. I only went a few times, but at one of them I went to the after party. At the time I was working on The State, which was a sketch comedy show on MTV. So what I remember about going to SNL isn’t that much. Not because I was in any way inebriated, but because I’m an old woman right now, and I don’t have a working memory. But what I do remember is an after party that I went to. I’ve no memory of the host, no memory of anything other than at one of the tables at the after party was seated the girl that I had a crush on from my work, The State on MTV. The new producer’s assistant who had just started working there was at this VIP table sitting with Michael Stipe and Famka Janssen and, like, Stephen Dorff and I’m almost insulted because I’m the one who has a television show and I’m not seated with Michael Stipe and Famka Janssen and Stephen Dorff, but this random girl who’s the producer’s assistant that I have a crush on is? So we ended up getting married. That’s my way. 

Is that true? 

Yeah, yeah, that is true. 

That was when Sarah Jessica Parker hosted Saturday Night Live and REM were the musical guest. 

Wait, how do you know that? 

Why? Because I was there for part of it. And I remember Stephen Dorff being there and definitely Michael Stipe would have been there ’cause he was the musical guest. Oh yeah, Michael Moore was at the taping. When we met at SNL, you were very nice. You were with Tom Lennon and I’m like this 18-year-old star-struck kid. About an office or so over is Lorne Michaels’ office. And that’s where the really famous people are. And I remember who was in there was Bruce Willis, Christian Slater, Neil Young, John Cusack. So it was very star-studded and as a kid, just so wide-eyed. But I remember asking you advice for comedy and I said, I just got into NYU and your advice was “drop out.” 

Yeah, that’s what I did. That’s probably what I told you. I did.

You told me that you did and stuff. I’m like, I’m not Michael Ian Black. But you did tell me to drop out which I considered for about two seconds. But I love that that was your advice. And then Jeremy Piven was like, “Try always, always just be funny all the time. 100% always be funny.” It took me like a couple of minutes to realize he was messing with me. But you guys were very entertaining. 

I don’t know him, but that’s such a —- thing to say to an 18 year old. 

You guys were all laughing. I thought it was pretty funny when I – – 

You understood that he was being funny. 

After like a minute or so, I was just so young and impressionable. But this is so interesting to me because this was October and then in January The State premiered. So you weren’t there. It wasn’t that long since you premiered. And you guys, I don’t know if you know this or not. You probably, I mean, now you do, but you guys were pretty much bigger than life to people that were my age back then and to walk in and see you guys. And you hadn’t been really, I don’t want to say, famous for that long, but to go to a place like SNL at the time and I think I can speak for the group, overall your group was anti SNL, what they were doing currently on the show. I mean, you were very influenced by Belushi and the old cast, but to be there at SNL where it was basically, you guys did not like the show to be there and stuff, was that strange at all for you? 

No, it was cool. Even though what you described is exactly right, so much of what The State was doing was directly oppositional to it. Like, at the time, SNL in the early ’90s was all about cramming catchphrases down your throat, the sketches, I thought were all 12 to 18 minutes long. The humor was very sort of frat house, like it just … it just wasn’t good. It was bad. It was actively bad, but we all had a reverence for the show because we all knew its importance and its legacy and it’s the sort of cultural institution that it became, so yeah, we were. Yeah, I was personally really excited to be there. I really liked seeing it, even though I didn’t really like the product that they were creating at that moment. 

At that moment when we were there, they had a really tough season before. I mean, I’ve said this before, but Robert Smigel had left, and so did Jack Handey, The Turners, Christine Zander. Their really top writers. I mean, they were some of the best. So they had a tough year after that. And then when we were there, that was the year after and it was early in the season. And they had a tough, you know, Steve Martin, the cold open was good, that was the premiere. And they had one other funny piece. And but overall, it was tough. And the second show was tough. And I remember asking you, because they were having a really tough season, what you thought of the show. And you kind of like looked around and paused and said, “I think the show’s pretty good,” but I got a kick out of that, just being diplomatic, you never know who’s around and stuff, but I’m like, “He’s lying through his teeth.” But yeah. 

Yeah, they were bad. They were just bad. 

It was tough. It was definitely from a writing standpoint, the cast and the writers just weren’t working together very well. 

And I mean, it turned around not that long after that when Tina Fey joined and Will Ferrell joined. 

Yeah, that was like the season after that. Will, yeah, Will Ferrell came aboard. 

Yeah. Mike Myers… I can’t remember if he was before that or after that. I guess he was before. 

Myers left that season, the one where we met at Travolta. He had left that was October and then he left, I believe, in January of 95 in the middle of the season. 

That sounds right. I remember they hired Janeane, and they hired Mark McKinney from Kids in the Hall and it was like, oh, like this could turn into something cool, but they, they didn’t use them at all. Like they didn’t use Janeane, they didn’t use Mark. 

Chris Elliott, it was a really, Laura Kightlinger. It was definitely a strange, strange time. Speaking of Kids in the Hall, I get such a kick out of the fact that people come up to you on the street and they think that you were in Kids in the Hall. They never say, “Are you Mark McKinney or are you Bruce?” But people are convinced sometimes that you were in Kids in the Hall. 

I get recognized for being in that show far more than I get recognized for being in anything that I was actually in. 

(Laughs) Are you at the point now where you just say thank you very much or do you correct them? 

Oh, it doesn’t matter what they think I’m in. I tell them thank you. I get Mad TV. “You were in Mad TV!” “Yes, thank you.” You were on SNL!” “Yes, thank you so much. Thank you.” I was recognized for being a local newscaster and I was like, “Yep, that’s me. Thank you so much. Thanks for watching.” Then he followed up with a question about some local news issue, which I didn’t know about. And I had to say something like “Yeah, that’s a tough one. Yeah, that’s a tough one. We’re really gonna be covering that one. Yep.” (Laughs)

So funny. You know, we talked about SNL in the early days, you know.You have Michael O’Donohue and some really strong people over there, that Belushi I would never think that John Belushi would be an influence to you. But the way that you explain it makes perfect sense. It was because the way that the cast and Belushi was portrayed on SNL as a character, you know, he was out of control. They had, you know, drug references and stuff versus what he might be in real life, where the two, you know, what was true, what wasn’t true. That was, that was very influential to you. And you took that and you used it, correct? 

Yeah, I was always very interested in the kind of myth making that SNL was engaged in. And it seemed like that felt new to me when they, I mean, what did I know? I was, what, five when the show premiered? But it was a new thought to me that people on TV could talk about themselves as if, and talk about their real lives. with real being in quotes. Like, we don’t know what’s real and what’s not real. but there was clearly something true in what Belushi was talking about when he would address the audience as himself or the other cast members would talk about him. And I always found the dichotomy between the public persona and the private person really fascinating. What was true? What wasn’t true? And so when we started doing The State, I was really pushing for us to do that. I was just basically trying to rip that off. And so, I created a character called the on-air personality me, or the character of me, talking about my fictional life. And then those evolved into group pieces called “Hi, we’re The State,” which was the group, The State, just talking to camera as you know, “ourselves.” So, like, one of the things we did was a thing called “The Sleep at The State” contest where we talked to camera and we’re like, hey, you know, we’re starting this contest called “Sleep at The State Contest” and the way you win is you enter. That’s it. All entries, all entrants win. And like that sort of like a funny, sort of real take on what it was like being, like, famous in our early 20s. Like we really did go out and try to like f**k our fans, like that was a real thing that we did. 

I mean, everyone knew who you guys were and stuff. I was, I mean. 

Yeah, everybody [inaudible] who we were. 

The cast initially was not for your idea of doing the playing yourself as a character, correct it. You had to kind of have a compromise. 

They hated it. The rest of The State didn’t want to do anything like that because they felt like our sort of comedic inspirations were much more Monty Python than, let’s say, SNL

Two years previously, you’re doing dramatic work. This is March of ’92. You’re in Hartford at the Long Wharf Theater. You’re doing The Day the Bronx Died, it was the premiere with Michael Henry Brown. Was that the direction you thought you were going to be going and then two years later you’re thrust into this new world of comedy? 

First of all, kudos to you. I’m amazed that you discovered that. Second of all, yes, that’s exactly what I thought I was going to be doing. I thought I was just going to be bopping around from regional theater to regional theater my entire career. It never occurred to me that I would be doing comedy, let alone sketch comedy, as a job. Like that just wasn’t on my radar, even though I was doing sketch comedy in college with The State, but it just didn’t seem like, I mean, we wanted to, we wanted to take it professional, we wanted to have our own show, but like, how does somebody, how do you do that? How do you even do that? 

Was Mo Willems still doing sketch comedy when you got there or was it that, did you just miss him? 

So, the reason our group even started was because Mo Willems, the children’s book author and illustrator, had started a sketch comedy troupe the previous year at NYU called “The Sterile Yak.” And to maintain their college funding, speaking of, they had to basically welcome new members into their group, which they didn’t want to do, because they, you know, established this group. So one of the members was like, all right, I’ll spin off and start a new group, which is what became the new group, which is what became The State. 

It’s amazing to think about. I’ve read some of the oral history and just how everything within the groups, how everything just organically came about. It wasn’t completely clear right away. I mean, David Wain was on, like the main stage sketch group. And he’s like, Oh, wow, I’m going to go to the lower tier one, because they’re so good. And the way it worked out back then, were you a fan of Letterman? I know you went on Dave’s show twice. You obviously were on Ed for years produced by [Worldwide] Pants. But was Letterman at all.. 

Oh, yeah. I mean, Letterman was one of my primary comedic influences. 

Yeah. I mean, so funny.  What was it like when you went on his show twice? 



So, I was on twice. I had a bad experience both times I was on the show, for different reasons. The first–and a lot of it had to do with my own just, like, being freaked out that I was on Letterman. The first time I remember, I’m waiting there. Unlike a lot of the other hosts, Dave famously doesn’t say hello. He doesn’t interact with you in any way, shape, or form. The first time you meet him is when you walk out on that stage. I was so hyped, because I loved the early Letterman shows, and I and I liked the current Letterman show when I was on it. And so it was the only time in my life that I can remember being starstruck and I was I got so sort of hyper-focused when they called my name. It was like I got tunnel vision everything just collapsed. My my vision collapsed. So all I could see was basically Dave’s sort of like over-orange grinning face as, as I’m like, you know, getting larger as I’m approaching it. I have no sense of where the audience is. I have no sense of where the band is. I’m like totally disoriented and.. like I’m unprepared. Like I don’t have good jokes. Like I don’t have anything. And it’s just like a sh*tty talk show appearance. And all I wanted was to, like, have that go well. And it just didn’t.

And then the second time I was like, All right. Well, I learned my lesson from last time. I have to be much more prepared than I was. So I’d been telling this story in my stand-up act about going to a strip club with Meghan McCain, and she hired a dancer, one of the dancers, to give me what she was calling “the upside down.” And it is exactly as it’s described” she comes over and she positions herself upside down in such a way that your face is situated next to a part of her body that maybe you don’t want to be situated next to. So I had cleared this story with the producer on Letterman. I’m like, “I’m going to tell this story.” They’re like, “Okay, great.” Justin Bieber is on before me. He runs long. Letterman said something to him that caused Dave to think he had offended Bieber. Dave was like, I think, sort of weirded out that he had said whatever he had said to Bieber and wasn’t really paying attention to me when I was on the show, which, okay. And then I told the story, it got a lot of laughs. I was like, “Oh, it went really well.” 

Then I got a call afterwards from my buddy, Rob Burnett, who runs World Wide Pants and produced, Ed and wrote Ed, saying my story had offended Dave and the producers, and they were going to cut it or I don’t know what they were going to do, like cut my appearance way down. And I was so mortified, and just like humiliated. And I was like, I cleared the story. Like, I know Dave’s like, like Dave’s whole thing is like, he’s sort of a prude about sex. And I was like, I was, I was like, I’m gonna play into that and have it be a funny story. But apparently I had offended everybody on staff by telling this story. It was horrible. I felt so bad. 

Dave did send you a handwritten note though, right? 

He did when Ed ended. I mean, I think he sent one to everybody in the cast, as he should, because he was the executive producer of it, because it was made with Worldwide Pants. And he just sent me a short note thanking me for being on the show and saying something complimentary, but it felt very pro forma. That didn’t prevent me from keeping the letter, which I have. But yeah, I mean, it was very nice of him to do, and unnecessary, and I appreciated it, but it didn feel kind of pro forma. 

I haven’t been able to find the clip. I’m sure it’s somewhere obvious online. But in 1993, in 1993 in December, when you were about to go on the following month for The State, you did the Jon Stewart show on MTV to promote it. And it’s kind of this legendary thing that I’ve never seen. You all destroyed Jon Stewart’s set, correct? 

Yes, we did destroy Jon Stewart’s set, which sounds bad until you realize it was, it was either like his last show there was it was some sort of concluding episode, where they weren’t going to need the set anymore. We didn’t just randomly come on and destroy the set, although that is something we might have done. He knew we were going to do it and we did it.

When you were auditioning, you were one of the finalists for the Late Late Show. Did Rob Burnett, was he one of the people that thought you would be good and put you in the running or how did that work? 

Yeah, Rob Burnett, who, as we already mentioned, was running Ed, was in charge, ran Worldwide Pants, and therefore was also running the spot that went after Letterman, which at the time was occupied by Craig Kilborn. When he left, they were looking for another host [and]  Rob put my name forward. I did an initial night or two nights hosting. Then they brought me back among the finalists to do a week–a week’s worth of shows So it basically came down to me and Craig Ferguson. And I’m waiting to hear. I’m just at this point. I’m just waiting to hear who gets the job.


I hope it’s me. 

You never know. 

You never know. 

This is the thing. So it was it was definitely down to you too. You also had in the final four D.L. Hughley and Damian Fahey. 

Mm -hmm. 

Here’s the deal where some people might know, some people don’t, I know you’ve talked about it a little on Twitter, but not as specific as I’m going to do now. Peter Lassally was not thrilled with Rob Burnett for a bunch of years because after Tom Snyder left, Peter really was pushing Jon Stewart. He wanted Jon Stewart to take that slot. This is Peter’s version. I haven’t asked Rob. I’ve talked to Rob, I knew him… I had a day job on Letterman. According to Peter, Rob was pushing Craig Kilborn and got Kilborn hired over Stewart, and Peter, he was very upset about it and it became somewhat personal. So when Rob wants you to get the gig, I don’t know if that affected Peter choosing Ferguson, if would have done that anyway, but at the time and you didn’t know this at the time, that was definitely there was some politics stuff going on that you weren’t aware of, correct? 

I wasn’t aware of it, no. I mean, I had read The Late Shift by Bill Carter multiple times before I ever had the opportunity to audition for this. I knew a lot about talk shows, and I knew who Peter Lassally was. He was Carson’s guy for decades, and Letterman had a very tight relationship with Lassally. Lassally had been the guy that had shepherded Letterman from NBC to CBS. And there was a peculiar relationship between Letterman and Leno. Letterman and Leno obviously had a difficult relationship, and the way they approached getting the job was very different. Leno was, you know, for lack of a better analogy, a puppy, just like running around, wagging his tail, begging for scraps. And Letterman was like, much more aloof about it. He was like, “I obviously want this job. Like, like taking over The Tonight Show would mean everything to me. But I don’t want to make it look like I’m campaigning in a way that will be off -putting, Both to me and to the network.” So he was much more aloof about it. And obviously Leno ended up getting the job. So I had that information when I was working with Lassally at the Late Late Show. And I was like adopting the Letterman approach to the job. You know, I was just like, “I want this, but it’s not in my personality to be begging for scraps for it.” And so I sort of thought Lassally would understand that, and he didn’t. He didn’t understand what I was doing, and consequently I think he thought that I didn’t really want the job. But then when you couple that with his own personal animus with Rob Burnett and the fact that Lassally was in L.A. with Les Moonves and Burnett was in New York, you know, he just had, kind of home field advantage and he got his way. Also, I had sort of got sandbagged in a way that I didn’t really understand what’s happening to me in the moment, where I got rushed into sort of a last minute meeting with Les Moonves. 

You, you’re given 10 minutes something like that, not a lot of time or like, oh, yeah, we’re just gonna meet with Les. 

Yeah, something like that and I didn’t understand at all that that meeting was like gonna be determinative. I didn’t understand, like I don’t know, like, nobody prepared me for that meeting. It was just like “Les wants to say hi”. I was like, “okay great.” Talked to Les, we had a somewhat uncomfortable conversation and then that was that. And then apparently afterwards he said, “How am I going to give this guy the show? He can’t even look me in the eye.” And maybe that’s true. I don’t know. I mean, I know it was a sort of awkward conversation. What I was hoping, and what I thought was true, was the work will speak for itself because I felt like I had done a week’s worth of solid shows. And the last one in particular was really strong. 

You did extremely well. Do you think Peter at all with that Moonves meeting was, did that deliberately, to not give you a lot of time and stuff just..


…hoping that Craig, because Craig is very much, you know high energy and charmed Les Moonves. But do you think Peter, that was calculated?

I think so. I think it was set up for me to fail. Nobody prepared me for it. Peter, like nobody, was like “Hey Michael, this is a really important meaning,”  but I should have known, like how stupid am I? 

I mean, Peter told you at one point that you had the job. Is that correct or pretty much had the job?

After the last show it was just, which was on a Friday, he like shook my hand and smiled and basically said, he said like very cryptically, “Stay near your phone on Monday.” He was basically saying like, “You’ve got the job”… was my understanding of it, but then what I didn’t understand was like right after that he was lobbying against me. 

I’m so sorry. And you know, normally just, you know, you were I think 33 and Ferguson was 42 and at 12:35 they try to normally go younger. It would have made a lot more sense, but I know Dave gave Peter the final say of what was going to happen, and yeah, I’m sorry you had that experience, because I know it went really well. 

That’s okay. And the truth is, I liked what Ferguson did. I thought Ferguson did a really original fun show, and I would have done an original fun show too. I can’t say they made a bad choice. I think he did, like really cool stuff. I had us and in fact like the way the philosophy my philosophy of that show would have been nicely I think ended up dovetailing with kind of what Ferguson ended up doing like Ferguson ended up being really silly and kind of Absurd and having surreal elements and I would have ended up doing that as well Obviously our voices are very different, but yeah, I mean I thought he did a great job.

You went on Ferguson’s show, something like nine times. What was that like going on with him? Was it awkward at all or not? 

The very first time, maybe even the first couple of times, it was a little bit awkward, but he was always really kind, and like I didn’t have, and I didn’t harbor any ill will towards him. And I always liked going on his show because he was very natural and improvisational. 

Yeah, he was very natural. He had the Jack Paar thing going, just very just good off the cuff. 

Yeah, and and and I think he he really liked guests who could do that with him So, yeah, it was fun. It was always fun to be on. 

Yeah, you were booked an awful lot. You did the Colbert show three times, Seth Meyers three times. I got such a kick out of this when you had one of your books, you asked Colbert. I used to work for him at the report — nice man. When you asked him for a book blurb and basically is this what he said? He said you write it I’ll sign it. Whatever you want me to say. 

Mm -hmm. Yeah, the blurb on my first book from Stephen Colbert is something like and the reason I have it memorized is because I wrote it. “Michael Ian black proves that even the most idiotic among us can occasionally create works of genius –Stephen Colbert.” 

You know, you mentioned you have knowledge, a great knowledge of late night. I thought it was really interesting that you, probably other public figures had this take, but you’re really the only one back in 2010 to make a point that, you know, everyone was rallying around Conan O’Brien, you know, Leno was coming back to take a show after 10 months, and the amount of younger people especially that this is injustice, and you wrote a piece on your blog which I don’t think you ever imagined that this thing was going to blow up the New York Times was going to do this big story but basically what was your take on Conan? 

I mean it’s sort of hard to remember. I don’t remember the piece that you’re talking about. 

Basically you said, how did a Harvard-educated multi-millionaire late-night talk show host magically transmorgify into a guy who got laid off at the local car plant? The overreaction to his departure has been kind of astounding, and the deeper reason that you think people were upset is because he came, to represent the aggravated, injured, wrongly terminated. And there was a sense in the country that giant corporations are ruining everything. Even late night shows. We see Conan as a victim because we feel like us, he wasn’t given a fair shot. And then you said, if you have the energy to protest Conan’s departure from Burbank, shouldn’t you maybe think about spending some time chanting outside GM or Goldman Sachs or even Congress? This is the cause you want to get involved with. Speaking of Conan. Looking back on that, what were your thoughts or do you not have any recollection. 

It was a long time ago. I mean, now that you read that, I’m like, hey, that’s pretty well written. Smart take, Michael. 

You’re a great writer. You have the substack we’re going to talk about later and stuff. You’re an amazing writer. 

I did think the overreaction was weird, like that Conan suddenly became this cause celeb when nobody was even watching the show. Like, so two things can be true at once. First of all, Leno had no business retaking The Tonight Show. That is absolutely true. Like, that was sh*tty of him. I said as much. I talked to him about it. And that can be true. What can also be true is that Conan was not doing a good job on The Tonight Show and that people weren’t watching. Both of those things can be true. That being said, the transition from the 12:30 to the 11:30 slot is not an easy one to make, nobody makes that jump or that transition without growing pains because everybody understands that the nature of the show itself has to change and Conan was not given enough time to make that adjustment. It generally takes, in my observations, about 18 months for hosts to kind of find their footing on that stage, and I don’t care who you’re talking about, it just takes that long. It takes them that long to sort of identify their strengths, to identify kind of, what the audience is responding to and not responding to, like, how does the monologue work? How did the desk pieces work? How are my skills as an interviewer? Like all that stuff, it just takes takes time in Conan, despite the fact he had been on the 12:30 slot for however long he had been before he got the 11:30. He didn’t have enough time to develop that 1130 show. So NBC handled it horribly. Leno handled it horribly. Conan handled it well, but I thought the overreaction to Conan’s firing was just ridiculous. 

You know, looking back the way that you phrased it. There was no one else I know, a public figure in entertainment, that pointed that out. It was, you know, it’s kind of an obvious take that somebody would have, but then.

 Oh, no, I love the obvious. I’m very good at the obvious. 

Yes, you are. It was very good. What was it like opening up for Dennis Miller at NYU in 1990? You guys were paid like $1,000 according to Mr David Wain. 

That could be true. So this was the first, like, professional job our sketch group ever got. I mean, we were still in college. We were a college comedy group. Dennis Miller was hired to perform for the students, and we were hired to open for him. Incredibly exciting. Miller at that point hadn’t like moved, sort, of openly to the right. He doesn’t like particularly like a political voice, even though we hosted “Weekend Update.” You know, I don’t think we had any like particular opinions about him one way or the other. We probably thought, “Yeah, he’s funny, whatever.” But what was most exciting to us was that we also got a free meal. And it wasn’t just that we got a meal, it was that each one of us, all 11 members, got to pick our own individual order of Chinese food. So we had 11 orders of Chinese food for free that we were given before the show. That to me maybe more than any other thing I have ever experienced in show business made me feel like I’ve made it. 

I remember when we met another time on Spin City with Michael J. Fox. I was an intern and you were on, you were telling me because you had just gotten Viva Variety. It was going on and you were really happy, like they were paying well, and you told me and I don’t know if if this was accurate, my recollection is that you told me that when you were on The State for most of the run you were getting paid $500 a week or or show, which you said at the time was a basically PA money–production assistant money. Is that correct? 

I thought it was less.

Maybe it was less, but you were telling me you were getting basically paid the equivalent to a production assistant, and you’re an actor on MTV and you’re writing… 

It wasn’t just that we were acting. I mean, so, The State, it was 11 of us. That’s a lot of people. But what you’re getting for that money is the entire writing staff, the entire acting staff. You know, you’re getting directors, you’re getting the post production, most of the post production staff as well, because a lot of our guys did the editing on the sketches and we were making… our take home like, yeah, I feel like it was around $400, but maybe it was $500 a week and it was crazy. I mean, it was just an absurdly low amount of money, but yeah, but so I don’t know what I was making on Viva Variety. Maybe it was $1,500 a week or something, but it probably felt like a fortune.

You know, this is just me being naive, but when we met when I was 18 and I would see you guys around I thought you were all millionaires just because you were an MTV show and it just I couldn’t have been more wrong. It’s just.. the public, I don’t think got that and we just see you guys being these big stars on MTV. Do you remember when you were on Spin City because you played the sculptor and you, you came up with this sculpture that was basically, it was, it was a middle finger, a giant middle finger. And I guess City Hall was supposed to be displayed there. They were horrified. But the producers of the show for some reason didn’t clear it with ABC. So they had this $10,000 sculpture with a middle finger and they couldn’t show it when it aired. Do you remember that? 

So I remember, I absolutely remember doing Spin City, of course. It was, I think it was the first network job I ever, oh, second network job I ever got. 

What was your first network job? 

NYPD Blue, the first season of NYPD Blue, I had one scene in the final episode. 

So now you’re at Chelsea Piers, and it’s your second, and you’re given a good role. What stands out? 

Well, what stood out to me mostly was the fact that I had told everybody that I was gonna be on Spin City, and then I wasn’t on Spin City, and that was very embarrassing. And you’re the one who gives me this information for the first time ever, that the reason the part got cut was because they couldn’t clear the statue. I thought I had just done a bad job. I thought they were like, “Oh, this sucks.” 

No, no, and then they had this $10,000 middle finger and they sold it, and this is completely for real, to Al Goldstein, and Al Goldstein came, they invited him to a tape and he showed up and bought the middle finger, ’cause that’s kind of what he was known for. But no, they were very wary back then. I don’t.. I remember there was a Spin City episode where Michael Fox, Mike Fox, was supposed to smoke. Mistakenly, he was with a Native American tribal chief and didn’t know He was inhaling marijuana, he thought it was just tobacco, and then he couldn’t clear a drug test, and ABC said, “Absolutely not, we’re not doing pot.” So it was peyote, so they made it a drink, and then it’s peyote. So, but no, you did a fantastic job, and it was just one of those things where they just couldn’t, didn’t even think to make a call to ABC or network standards and practices, and yeah, so that’s that, But you got paid. Network television and stuff back then. So you were in the initial pitch. You and David Wain together when you pitched some assistant development person at MTV for the group, you, you must have been 21. What was that like to be in the room and you’re pitching this show? Cause back then sketch comedy just did not get on cable like that… from unknowns. 

Well, so the initial pitch to MTV, we went in, we met with this woman named Eileen Katz. It actually might not have been Eileen the first time. It may have been her second, Sarah. I don’t remember who we pitched to, but we didn’t know what we were doing. But in fairness, they didn’t know what they were doing either. Like, MTV had just started airing original programming. They had a mandate that we’re going to move into original programming. Because Viacom is notoriously cheap, they hired essentially a team of 25-year -old network executives to develop their on-air development slate headed by Doug Herzog, who may have been 30, maybe in his early 30s. I don’t know. None of them, I don’t think, had any real background in programming. They were music people or they were interested in music during MTV and so when we came into pitch sketch comedy, I think they were receptive to the idea of sketch comedy but not receptive to the idea of us doing sketch comedy. The feedback we got at the time was you’re not all camera ready. (laughs)

I love the fact that David Wain was absolutely relentless and then you just on your own did these demos for the Jon Stewart-hosted this show, it wasn’t that many episodes, it’s 13 I think. What was it? “You Write It, You Watch it?” 

You Wrote It, You Watch It. 

Yeah, so you do these, and again, there’s very little budget and you’re in them as actors, you’re doing the crew and everything you’re doing yourselves and that kind of gets your foot in the door. And is it that point that you do that three night showcase, and William Morris sees you? Is that the order of things you did? It was called MOLT, I think. Was that..

Yeah. The order of that. So we did a live New York showcase, three nights. And I don’t even know what the purpose of it was. 

All I know is you got signed by Morris, according to Wain, which.. 

I think that was the purpose,to show William Morris that we were like a viable commercial entity. And yeah, and they signed us. 

Was that Dixon? 

That was James Dixon. 

Dixon represents now Colbert. He represents Jimmy Kimmel. I don’t know if he’s still with Carson Daly, but he’s a major player. And there aren’t a lot of agents that I think currently right now that people, and he’s more of a manager, maybe, but people look back at him and call him a legend, people within the agency, that you had this guy really, really smart. Obviously, Jon Stewart as well as a client for a couple of decades. So he was your guy, good guy to get. 

And we did sketches about him. Tom Lennon wrote sketches about him that are I’ll just say there’s one called, I guess it was called “James Dixon, Power Agent.” I think it was the first one. And then there was like one, it was like “James Dixon Power Jedi.” I don’t remember, we did a bunch of them. 

Yeah, “baby doll,” that’s so funny. So then you get picked up, and you guys, out of the gate, the audience loves you, the critics. Conan O ‘Brien said this, and I think it’s pretty true, that people overall do not like things that are new. They say they want something new, But the critics were so brutal and they changed their minds after like a year. But when you’re getting that feedback from the press and they’re just, I mean, I think somebody gave you negative two stars in The New York Post, was brutal. 

That’s right. 

What was that like? When you’re getting that feedback, you knew that it wasn’t coming from the viewers. It was just basically these, these critics. Was that difficult at all, or not really?

Well, the viewers hadn’t really seen it yet. We didn’t know that the viewers were enjoying it, because the reviews all came out the day the show premiered. And it was devastating. I mean, it was just, like, shocking how bad the reviews were. We thought, you know, we thought we were going to be canceled that day. We were like, “Oh my God, like I had no idea the thing we were making was so horrible.” 

The Daily News said [it was] “so terrible it deserves to be studied. It’s a historic mess.” EW, Entertainment Weekly: “Significantly less than sporadically funny.” C minus. I do want to point out though, some of these people after a year, it was very much Tom Shales did not like early Conan within a year or so, complete opposite. So it hasn’t even premiered and you’re feeling a little bit defeated, the group? 

Oh yeah, it was horrible. It was absolutely horrible. I mean, I’ll never forget that morning. Just like seeing paper after paper come in and, you know, when people still read newspapers and reading just like one atrocious review after another I don’t think there were any positive reviews. 

And now it’s so funny. People would not that are fans of the group and you guys would never think that that would be the case because those sketches that the critics some of the critics are all beloved I mean people still quote them, the viewers. I mean, I just remember being in high school and people just quoting everywhere and stuff. And then you guys are just the darlings of MTV. I mean, it seems that way. I know internally, it wasn’t maybe the easiest thing to deal with at times, but MTV at some point, they were going to offer you dozens and dozens of more episodes. But before that, you announced that you thought that the group announced that it would be better if you went to a network that might get you closer to taking on Saturday Night Live because I knew that at least some of the group members said, “We’re going to take on SNL. We’re going to take them down.” Is that pretty much what happened? 

Yes and no. We did get the opportunity to jump to network. ABC wanted us. We were like, “great.” They were like, they were going to put us on against SNL

Would have made sense. 

It did make sense and it made sense for ABC. It made sense for us. And then the deal blew up for reasons that I don’t fully understand to this day. And so CBS was like, “Oh, we’ll take you.” Which absolutely did not make sense in any way, shape, or form. But at that point, like we were kind of burnt out on MTV and each other even though the show had only been on for three years and change to that point. We had also spent the previous four years working together. So, you know, we had seven eight years under our belts of like seeing each other every single day.

That’s brutal. That’s why bands break up. That’s why even sketch groups of like, you know, Python, Kids in the Hall And I can’t even imagine that many members that you all co-existing like that. 

Yeah, it was really hard. So when CBS came along, it was sort of like, it sort of felt like an injection of fresh blood into our arms and we’re like, “Okay, let’s do this. This is like a new fun challenge.” And yes, MTV said, “Don’t go, we’ll give you X amount more episodes.” 

And we’ll pay you. And they said that they’ll actually they’ll give you a decent wage, they said 

Yeah, I don’t… I don’t remember if money was even ever discussed. I mean, I think it was clear there was going to be some raise. But it wouldn’t have compared to network money, but regardless. It wasn’t really about money. It was just like this is our dream, like let’s take this shot and then we did one special on CBS which was the lowest rated show on network television that week and then they dumped us. 

I wanna mention two things: One, zero promotion that I know of from CBS and getting the word out by publicists. I remember watching in my dorm room at NYU on Washington Square East, that special, that Friday night at the Halloween special and just laughing and laughing. I couldn’t stop. It was The State’s 43rd Annual All-Star Halloween Special. This is October 27th, 1995. The New York Post, originally a bad review when you started, gives you four stars. I mean, they said “That was then, this is wow.” My recollection is they didn’t really promote it. Is that fair to say? 

I don’t know. I don’t remember promotions one way or the other. I just know that it was such a bad fit for that network. I mean, you know like Murder She Wrote was like the biggest hit on that network at the time and our musical guest was Sonic Youth. Like those two things don’t necessarily go together very well. 

Did they tell you, though, that they were going to give you a New Year special and put you up against Saturday Night Live the following year in ’96? That’s what I read. I don’t know if that’s true. 

They told us we were going to do a New Year’s special. Yes. Like the Halloween special was supposed to be like the first of, I think, three specials. And then, you know, if those went well, we would get a series, but they they killed us after the first special. 

It was so good. I mean, I know that people, it’s online and people love it. David Wain said on his website that you were all at a William Morris party and according to Variety, they wrote that some of you guys pulled your pants down at Morris party. Was that true? 

Almost certainly true. I don’t remember it, but that is almost certainly correct. It would be hard for that not to be true. 

I used to try to get in and it was almost impossible to get in to see Stella at, you know, Fez Below The Time. It was the Time Cafe and below was Fez. You guys would get the most amazing… First of all, people would come just to try to see the three of you, you and David Wain and Michael Showalter. And you guys are in suits hosting with three mics hosting this show. And it’s like, I mean, everyone basically, before they got famous, including like the Upright Citizens Brigade with Amy Poehler, Marc Maron, everyone from Louis C .K. to Sarah, to Gaffigan, Dimitri Martin. It was an amazing experience. What was that like for you? And did you realize that it was like Hamilton hard to get in for the people that liked your work? 

No, I had no idea until I literally had no idea until you just said that. 

I couldn’t get in. I got in maybe once or twice, but we would try all the time, and the reservations would go like that. 

Oh, that’s so funny. I had no idea that it was a hard ticket. I really didn’t. 

Oh, my every, yeah. I mean, when I got, I think I only got to go twice and it was a big, it was a big, big deal to be there. 

Oh, wow. No, I mean, in our minds, we were just putting on, I mean, it was always crowded. It was always full, like, definitely. But in our minds, like, we were just putting on like, a little  comedy show every week. I mean, we so we yeah, we were hosting this show for years, called Stella. And we did have everybody like every comedian that was in New York, if they wanted to, they would, they would come by some people didn’t want to like, like Dave Attell famously wouldn’t come perform because he felt like it was a “alternative room” and he wouldn’t do well, et cetera, et cetera. But we had, we had everybody come in, everybody except for David Attell. 

Who are some of the biggest people that played, would you say, just in your minds, just like now with looking back? 

Uh, looking back, I remember Stephen Colbert did a really funny piece with Paul Dinello. Ben Stiller did a piece. Janeane was on like every week. 

She was great, yeah, I remember. 

Jon Stewart was there. Mitch Hedberg performed there. Trying to think if Chappelle ever did. I don’t think Chappelle ever showed up. 

I wish there was videotape of that show. I really… 

We had Zach Galifanakis,everybody, I mean just anybody who was in comedy at that time.

Yeah, most of them were famous. I really wish that existed. I just remember, I think it was David Wain with his VHS tapes selling, going around and people paying, I don’t know, $10, $12 cash for the video tapes, because you guys would do these amazing videos and there was nowhere else, I guess, for you guys to really sell it and they were so in demand. But that was, yeah, I guess the extent to your, your merch, but, um, that was one of my favorite things. It was such a treat to get on. How long did it take you to find your voice as a standup comic because you were already famous and already well known and normally, you know, to go to the clubs and just start out, you just kind of put yourself on tour. How long did it take you, do you think, til you felt good and felt comfortable with your act? 

A long time. Like you said, like when I finally started doing proper standup, I had been well known for, I don’t know, eight, ten years, but I had had a lot of experience hosting Stella, for example, which is sort of stand up, and then also just performing comedy for years, as well. So I wasn’t coming in as like a total newbie, but at the same time, like, it’s a very different skill set to stand up on a stage and speak into a microphone, more or less as yourself than it is to perform sketch comedy or to do like a three-man thing with Stella where we’re just basically basically playing the goofiest versions of ourselves, took a long time to figure it out. Um, and I’m still figuring it out. I mean, I’m, I don’t know. 

Your stuff is so funny. I just can’t believe early on that you would be brave enough to do Montreal without being really established with standup to go to that, the festival where everybody’s there and you put yourself there, which I thought was really brave. 

Because I didn’t care. I was like.. 

That’s great. I mean, no, that’s what I think that that’s with a lot of people’s success. They just you know that a lot of the best people they can get there. It’s hard to get there I think for a lot of people just to not care like that, but I mean… 

I wasn’t, like.. Going to Montreal, like, I wasn’t expecting to get anything out of it. I just wanted to go because I thought it would be fun.

You said it didn’t go well at all, correct? Most of it. 

No, it didn’t go well. 

Yeah. But I think I think it’s great, though, your standup and you’re able to transition and do specials and things. One of the most entertaining things, and I forgot about it, I was just doing research with you and Marc Maron, your Twitter back and forth. I mean, and that was not professional wrestling. This there was definitely some a little bit of truth with you guys going back and forth back in 2013. I mean, I just was, oh, it Oh, it was just so funny, but there was some truth to it, correct? 

Yeah. Well, Marc was one of the guys who was at Stella every week. 

He’d upset people sometimes over there. 

Oh, yeah. He upsets people now. But the thing with Marc was he was always, like, so resentful of everybody in The State because he felt like we hadn’t earned it. And moreover, he was very dogmatic about how comedy should be approached, and the way it should be approached in his mind was the way he did it and basically, no other way. And so there was always tension between, like, members of The State and Maron. And so, yeah, we had this sort of frenemy thing going for a long time. And when we argued on Twitter, it was in jest, and yes, it was totally serious as well. 

When you’re writing those tweets, are you witty enough, and I’m guessing so, that you can just go back and forth like that, or do you have to take like a minute or two for each tweet to compose the writing because the writing is so brilliant, both of you back and forth. Or was it just you can write something like that and just hit and versus you writing everything out and taking like a minute or two to construct something funny. 

I don’t remember, but I’m sure if I spent more than 25 seconds writing something, that would have been a long time. 

Oh, it was so entertaining going back and forth with you guys. And I know you ended up doing his IFC show, which is fun. Your Substack, I mean, you are a machine with writing these essays. I mean, just so prolific. You’ve been doing this for how long? I mean, it’s great. I love your Substack and everyone should check it out. 

A year and change, I guess, I’ve been doing it. I try to write most days. I also try not to put any pressure on myself. So yeah, I mean, I write about 800 to 1,000 words a day on whatever’s on my mind. Thank you. I’m glad you enjoy it. 

Do you have somebody, I don’t know if it’s your wife or anybody, look over it before you hit publish? 

No, and I wrote an essay about that too, because I know my pieces are often riddled with spelling and grammatical errors and dropped words and sometimes like entire paragraphs that don’t belong. And I’ve tried to become a little bit more disciplined about proofreading but I’m not always successful. No, I mean a part of it is like they’re not meant to be professional or publishable in the sense that they’re, like, complete works. I mean, I’m writing them every day. So they’re going to be at times half-baked. And I’m okay with that if the readership is. I use it as a way to… I use it as a writing exercise. I mean, I feel most productive during the day when I… 

I have to say, I mean, you draw from your own life, your politics. I remember you had a thing about Jerry Seinfeld with Unfrosted. very, very entertaining, but especially when you open your life up with, I loved with you and your wife going on that road trip or The State with the tour and there’s a lot of great stuff for it. By the way, how was that going on tour after so many years with all of them? I mean, not everyone was there, but the vast majority. What was that experience like? 

So the showbiz strike gave The State an opportunity to go on tour. It’s something, you know, we always talk about doing stuff together, but because there’s so many of us, it’s just very, very difficult. So when the strike happened and we knew we were all going to be unemployed for a while, it seemed like a perfect time to get the group together. We were able to get eight out of the 11 of us. We went on the road and it was awesome. It was really, really awesome. It was awesome because, one, there were still people who showed up, which was great and not necessarily like, I didn’t take that for granted at all. The fact that 30 years on, 12-15 hundred people want to show up in some city and watch us perform our dumb sketches wearing unitards, like, great, like that’s really sweet. But what was more important to me about that, because our history is so long and because we have so few opportunities to do anything together. And because the history of the group is complicated the way any creative group is going to have a complicated history, it was important to me to just do that show with those people the correct way, meaning the correct emotional way, like to be supportive of each other, to like be kind and gentle, and encouraging as opposed to the way we might have done it when we were in our 20s which would have been to like yell at each other and bicker and fight and blame each other for sh*it. Like it was just like a lovely way to be mature adults touring the country. It was great. 

What was that like when you were out, and people, I’m guessing it would have been like a concert, people are kind of like doing the sketches as you go along and guessing people are shouting out lines? 

Every now and again, that would happen. But no, I mean, the audiences were awesome. One of our, I don’t know if hallmarks is the right word, but one of the ways we operate is we’re very much like DIY and have been since we started. I mean, we were a college comedy group. So because of that, there’s a kind of looseness to what we do and there’s an informality to what we do. So, if somebody shouted something from the audience, like nobody in the group would have any problem shouting something back, you know, breaking the fourth wall and just breaking character and just f**king around with the audience, like, that would have been totally acceptable and fine. And in fact, that happened. So, like, that, that wasn’t, it was never a problem. 

I love the fact that you guys were able to do that and the work still holds up. So, you have a website, And then you also have, where people can see the number of books that you have written is astounding. I mean, kids books alone, just the work that you’ve been able to do comedic and non comedic. Yeah, are you working on anything now? I’m guessing so. 

What was the question? 

Oh, are you working on a look now, I’m guessing so. 

Oh, no. 

Relax, hang out in Savannah with your wife, enjoy. 

I mean, I should be writing a book. Instead, I’m writing a thousand words a day for my Substack, which makes no sense. 

That’s fantastic as writing an exercise though. I mean, I think that would benefit anybody. 

I do think it’s making me a better writer, which is in a weird way all I care about. Like, I’m interested in becoming a good writer like that’s that’s the main thing that I sort of care about these days. 

Yeah, no, it’s fantastic and you..

I write screenplays I’ve not been writing a book although I want to really what I want to do is write a novel, but I’ve never done it. I don’t have any great ideas and I’m afraid.

Well, I just love the fact that you’re doing it and you’re still doing standup. I saw you’re gonna be in Chicago at some point in the next month or two doing stand up, unless that’s not true. 

I don’t know. 

But you’re still you’re still doing stand up. My last question, if you could take one credit of your IMDB, what would it be? 

Probably Spy TV, which was a prank show I hosted for one season when I was doing Ed and this was another… So they asked me if I wanted to do this show Spy TV on NBC. I was on NBC. They were like, “We’ll pay you $100,000.” I was like, “F*ck yes. Like that’s the most money I had ever received to do anything. So I went out to LA. It was sort of this high concept prank show. And then Rob Burnett and John Beckerman, who were the creators of Ed, call me all pissed off that I had taken this job without consulting them. And I was totally flummoxed. I was like, “What do you mean? I had to consult you? What does this have to do with you? They offered me $100,000. You’re not paying me anywhere near that. Of course, I’m going to take the job.” They felt like it was cheapening their brand because I was doing this prank show and I was like, “f*ck,” like the last thing I wanted to do was cause injury to those guys, and then on top of that, when Spy TV came out… Oh, and also like the the kind of things they were doing like on Spy TV are things that I just don’t like. They would like license prank show material from like these Japanese prank shows where they would like, try to get people heart attacks. They would open up a hotel room and fire like a rocket-propelled grenade, just like insane sh*t where people are like, “What the f *ck?” And it was like, it was sh *t that just as a viewer would have made me uncomfortable, but I was sort of endorsing it because I was hosting it. And then when that show came out, the TV critic Matt Roush had this thing in TV Guide called “Roush’s Rants.” I’ll never forget this. I was in Las Vegas. I don’t know why I had the TV Guide. Somebody must have told me about this. So I bought the TV Guide, opened up “Roush’s Rants.” His whole column was devoted to what a bad actor I am. It was like, I’m a bad actor in Ed. And now I’m being a bad host for this terrible prank show called Spy TV. And I was so upset. I was being called out by name by like this important TV critic, like it hurt me so bad. And then to cap it off, I was poolside, and I literally, literally walked into a concrete column at the pool, like walked face first into the concrete column as I was reading that. And I hurt my face, and then I was like, “Perfect. That was a perfect conclusion to my experience with ‘Roush’s Rants.’” 

It never would have occurred to me that Rob and John would have been, I thought they would have liked the visibility just to be on a network. 

Oh, they were so upset. They were so mad at me. I mean, looking back on it, like I kind, I still think they’re in the wrong in the sense that like I didn’t owe them that call, but I understand from their point of view, they’re like, they have this really special show that they care about, and one of their actors is going off and doing this cheesy, stupid, f**king show. I can understand why they may have been concerned about that or upset about that. 

They got over it. 

Yeah, at the same time I’m 27 years old or 28 years old and like I’ve never been offered this much money, like f*ck. 

Take the money and run. 

Of course. 

Before we go, your substack, I know that you have a tier that’s paid. What is that compared to the other substack? Is that just people… 

Absolutely nothing. You get nothing, 

…just supporting you. 

It’s to support me. I don’t ask people to pay except I just wrote my first annual appeal letter, basically saying, “Well, this is the only time you will hear from me this year asking you to upgrade your subscription. You know, if you value what I do. And so the reason I, one of the reasons I write so much is because I want to provide a service that’s worth paying for. So if, if somebody values what I do, then yeah, I hope, I hope you will consider upgrading your subscription. Because, you know, I, you know, I’m obviously not doing substack for the money. It’s never going to provide a lot of money, but a little bit of money would be nice if you like what I do. 

Yeah, no, money is good, especially, you’re in Savannah and you have a wife and your kids are both in college now?

My kids are both in college. My son’s about to graduate this week. 

Michael Ian Black, thank you for doing this. How did this go for you? I just, you got back to me right away, “sure, I’ll do it.” 

Are you looking for a performance review, Mark? Because I’ll give you one.

I’ll take it. 

I thought you did extremely well. Much better prepared than probably any other interview I’ve ever interview I’ve ever given. 

Thank you so much. You were so kind to me when I was starting out when I moved here and stuff and I’ll never forget that the kindness, because I’m not going to mention names, there’s one or two people in The State at the time and I’m sure they’re very nice now that were not the friendliest people sometimes to people like me and stuff but you were great. Tom Lennon was nice, but you were the best. 

Well, one of the things I learned early on during the period of The State was I had to make a deliberate effort to be nice to people, because when I’m shy and I get very self-conscious when people approach me, and I think a lot of times early on people interpreted that as rudeness, I wasn’t trying to be rude, I was just very shy. And I learned early on, like, you just have to have to be kind. You have to go out of your way to be kind when you’re in the public eye, because, not so much because you’re worried people are going to talk sh*t about you, but because it takes a lot to approach somebody, I think, that you know from TV or whatever and offer them your kindness and a compliment. That’s usually how it goes, those interactions. You just owe it to them as a human to, like, reciprocate and just be nice, like just as a human to human. 

I wish everyone was like that. But you certainly were. And I’m grateful. Thank you for doing this. And it was a pleasure. I wish you all the best. And I will continue to enjoy your sub stack and all of that. But I’m grateful. 

You too, Mark. Good luck with this! You’re really good at it. I hope you have a lot of success with it. 

I really appreciate it. Thank you. Thank you, sir. This was fun. 

My pleasure.

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