You're Not Doing It Right: Tales of Marriage, Sex, Death, and Other Humiliations Hardcover – Feb 28 2012
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“All these years, Michael Ian Black has not gotten enough credit for what a good writer he is. This book is charming and good company and—best of all—amazingly honest. And really, really funny, of course—though you probably already guessed at that part.”
— Ira Glass, This American Life
"Memorable and funny. . . . An amusing look at masculine insecurity and confusion."
“This book is so frank, so full of amusingly embarrassing confessions, I should probably be giving Michael Black a hug instead of a blurb.”
—Sarah Vowell, New York Times bestselling author and essayist
“It’s no surprise that Michael Ian Black’s book is hysterical. But I was surprised by how heartfelt and touching his memoir is. It’s true: Michael Ian Black has emotions!”
—A.J. Jacobs, New York Times bestselling author of The Year of Living Biblically and The Know-It-All
"I loved My Custom Van. But I loved You're Not Doing It Right even more. Reading this book felt like taking a long road trip with Michael himself—which I’ve done. And I actually recommend the book more. Touching, hilarious, and truthful all at once. What else do you want, America?"
—Mike Birbiglia, New York Times bestselling author of Sleepwalk with Me
"Dear Michael Ian Black: please stop writing things in books that I wish I had written myself, it's starting to make me feel bad. Also, would you like to be friends someday? I sure would."
—Samantha Bee, senior correspondent on The Daily Show and author of I Know I Am But What Are You?
"Michael Ian Black is one of the finest comedy minds of our generation and a master at assembling words in a hilariously pleasing way. You would have to be a vapid crapsack not to enjoy this book."
About the Author
Michael Ian Black is a writer, comedian, and actor who currently appears on Another Period, The Jim Gaffigan Show, and Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp. He created and starred in many television series, including Michael and Michael Have Issues, Stella, and The State. He wrote the screenplay for the film Run, Fatboy, Run and wrote and directed the film Wedding Daze. Michael regularly tours the country as a stand-up comedian and is the bestselling author of the book My Custom Van (and 50 Other Mind-Blowing Essays That Will Blow Your Mind All Over Your Face), the memoir You’re Not Doing It Right, and the children’s books Chicken Cheeks, The Purple Kangaroo, A Pig Parade Is a Terrible Idea, I’m Bored, Naked!, and Cock-a-Doodle-Doo-Bop. Michael lives in Connecticut with his wife and two children.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
Read this if you possess human emotions.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Don't get me wrong: I still laughed out loud during every chapter of 'You're Not Doing It Right.' But there's as much heart as there is comedy in its pages. Please buy it and read it and then read it again later. Then tell people you read it. When they ask to borrow it, tell them to buy their own. That's how we ensure we get more books in the future from this great writer.
There is humor in this book, and you'll likely find yourself laughing out loud, but the humor's purpose is only as little candy sprinkles on top of a giant loaf of misery. Although it's likely to make you laugh, you're unlikely to find it funny. There is a difference. The little absurdities and wordplays induce laughter but mostly as a reflex. The overall feeling from this book is profound despair:
* "I wonder if, like me, there are people who occasionally experience the curious, disembodying sensation of not recognizing their present life as their own. It is a feeling I can only describe as being the opposite of déjà vu. Rather than feeling as though you are reliving some unique moment in time, it is as if you are experiencing the mundane activities of your everyday life for the first time. So that's what this book is about, those occasional instants when I do not recognize my life as my own, and I am left wondering how I got here."
* "I know her better than I have ever known anybody, but there are times when I have also never felt more distant from another person. The thing that nobody tells you about marriage is that sometimes it makes you lonelier than being alone ever could."
* "The fatigue reawakens all the scary fantasies I used to have of harming my child. One morning, I am so frustrated and angry when Ruthie refuses to take her bottle that I whip it across the room as hard as I can, splattering formula everywhere and creating a satisfying divot in the drywall. Scarier still is the fact that I don't love this new baby. Not even a little bit. Not now, not when she is a lumpy and hateful annoyance."
The big mystery is why he would confess such terrifyingly personal things to a broad, faceless audience. Why tell us, for example, about faking sadness at the news of his dad's death? Why tell us about fantasies of harming his small children? It's impossible that he was doing these things just for giggles. It was either catharsis or something else. You can get a vague idea from his interview with Marc Maron when he said, "Audiences just want to hear their lives reflected back to them." Based on that quote and based on the content of the confessions, it seems that he's telling ultra-sensitive stories from his life because he suspects that you'll be able to relate to them, and he suspects you'll like that because you'll feel generally less alone with your deepest problems and insecurities.
The problem is that the book is heavy on navel gazing and psychoanalysis and self-consciousness. It is, in other words, heavy on Self. All of his deepest insecurities - fighting with his wife, unfeelingness at his dad's death, fantasies of harming his children, abandoning his dying dog - have to do with his self-ish-ness. He openly acknowledges his selfishness, and yet he goes on writing about his feelings, his problems, his selfishness. It doesn't seem to occur to him that his profound loneliness could be a direct result of his attention to Self at the expense of his attention to others. You can hear it even in his idea that "audiences just want to hear their lives reflected back to them," as though he believes everyone is ceaselessly self-absorbed and that nobody has ever managed to have genuine interest in and concern for things outside themselves.
You get the feeling that he sometimes added humor not because he wanted to nor because it fit well with the story but just because that's what he was expected to do as a guy known for making jokes.
The only thing that kept this book from being unendurably sad and the only reason I recommend it is the first chapter and especially the last two chapters. Not that those chapters are un-sad, but they appear to have been written from a much different state. The second-to-last chapter is the second-best thing I've read about dogs (behind Old Dogs Are the Best Dogs). And the last chapter has a personal message to his wife that I am sure, when he wrote it, made him weep uncontrollably-- in a good way. It was beautifully done. If he had more chapters like the last two this would easily be a 5-star book.
Every page of this book is funny, but that's not what impressed me. What impressed me was the way Michael can take some common experience we all go through and write about it in a way that is both original and totally relatable. I found during the course of this book that we think very similarly, which is great because I love people who think just like I do.
Michael's brand of humor is generally not the kind that appeals to a broad population. You have to be a little smart to appreciate it. But I think his humor in this book is the kind that almost anyone could appreciate, and if you can't, you'll probably at least respect the brutally honest treatment he gives every aspect of his life from dating to marriage to having babies, owning pets, and even buying a car. The whole time I was reading this, I was like "Damn, I can't believe how much I am loving this book." What's more, I actually learned a few things from this book. Things about myself, even. Yes, Michael Ian Black gave me several epiphanies. One on an airplane, another on the subway.
I agree with the other reviews. Get this book, read it, and then tell everyone you know to read it. Michael's shameless pimping on Twitter annoyed me at first, but now I get it... this book deserves to be a best seller so much more than most best sellers out there.
These may not seem like original topics ( many authors write about love and marriage) but Black's take, his way of mixing love, angst, boredom, and humor together is unique. He has a comic's knack for the verbal curveball that evokes surprised laughter from readers.
So what is the book "about".... that question people ask but often so hard to sum up when describing a book? Well, as Black notes, he focuses on " those occasional instants when I do not recognize my life as my own and I am left wondering how I got here " and that is definitely a recurring theme. The newborn baby who destroys Black's former routine and life. Looking in the mirror and seeing a 40 year old staring back when he doesn't feel experienced or wise enough to be 40. Black finds himself shocked, disoriented, and confused by parenthood, marital fights and even a period of sudden dizzy spells.
But there are also honest and funny admissions about his flaws as well as what he and his wife gained from marriage counseling. Intense details about their fights emerge. Divorce seems a very real possibility. Then Black wonders " When did our definition of ourselves as a couple become about the things we had to do instead about the people we want to be?"
I fear i'm making all this seem way too deep and serious when much of the book is far lighter - and funnier- than I can express. Black as a quirky personality with hints of dark around the edges - but the quirkiness prevails. When he notes that his infant son's bouts of non-stop crying made time slow down so that " it took eight months to get through four" I nodded in recognition. I've been there...and yes, time with a crying infant seems so very long, even if the cries only last for 15 minutes.
And then there is that last chapter, truly saving the best for last. I was deeply moved when Black expressed his love for his wife and the story her face tells him, evolving year after year,story upon story.
Like many comedians, MIB alternates between faux bravado and real self-doubt. Instead of just sitting around feeling like an impostor however, he put his anxieties about feeling like one into book form for the rest of us to judge.
His candour is, at times, breathtaking. If you like your humour honest and unfiltered, like old Simpsons episodes or Santorum's speeches, you'll love You're Not Doing It Right.
Black writes about childhood, marriage, fatherhood, feeling like a failure, and Kevin Federline in a way that makes you believe, if only for a second, that maybe your own life isn't so pathetic. He's also one of the few people who can use the "c" word and still somehow come across as charming.
Maybe he should call himself "The straight David Sedaris." He'd probably sell a lot more books that way. It could catapult him to the top of the bestseller list, and then who knows? He might just believe he did finally something right.
But I doubt it.
Thank you Michael, for pouring so much of yourself into this book. Both my husband and my boss loved it, too.