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My Custom Van: And 50 Other Mind-Blowing Essays that Will Blow Your Mind All Over Your Face Paperback – July 14, 2009

3.8 out of 5 stars 283 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Michael Ian Black has proven that even the most simple-minded among us can occasionally create works of genius." -- Stephen Colbert

"Like all custom vans, Michael Ian Black's book is customized to fit all your needs and wants for the journey of your life. It's luxurious, entertaining, spooky, disturbing, and hilarious. Devil's in the details! It's stocked with tacos, vampires, squirrels, a cleaning lady, scented candles, salami, tundra, and a foreword by Abe Lincoln himself -- now that's Class with a capital C. Enjoy the ride of your lifetime." -- Amy Sedaris

"This is a great book for shut-ins, for people who like to laugh at sentences, and people who like to move their belongings from place to place. In fact, anyone who likes to pack or ship anything will find a lot to like in these pages." -- Dave Eggers

"Fun to read while you're pooping." -- Sarah Silverman

"I always walk away jealous and a little fearful of Michael Ian Black's sharp comedic wit. If you like your comedy dry, absurd, and unforced, you will love this book." -- Jim Gaffigan

"Michael Ian Black speaks to the laughless in all of us and asks, 'Why aren't you laughing?' Then he takes the laughless in all of us roughly by the shoulders and INSISTS THAT WE LAUGH, usually by writing exceedingly funny and compelling essays such as those included in this volume." -- John Hodgman

"Michael Ian Black is so wrong that he's right." -- Lewis Black

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.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Gallery Books (July 14, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1439153531
  • ISBN-13: 978-1439153536
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.7 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (283 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #419,673 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
...but I love this book to death. I want to be buried with it. When I die, I want it to be because I laughed so hard I accidentally ate the book and then I want to be buried in a coffin made out of this book. Just kidding - I want to be cremated.

Okay, here's my real review:

Michael Ian Black is a genius and to me, his book is hilarious. But like any brand of comedy, you have to be predisposed to it. If it's not up your alley, it's not up your alley. It seems to me that those reviewing this book negatively (I'm looking at you, Amazon Vine) are not taking into account that this is a particular type of humor and are instead reviewing based on their personal comedic preferences. It's like going to see a sci-fi movie and saying it wasn't good because you prefer romantic comedies.

Within this genre of comedy, however, Michael Ian Black does it best. If you like your humor a little vulgar and definitely surprising, then this this book is for you. If you prefer the Blue Collar Comedy Tour or remember The State or Stella as the stupidest things you've ever seen, then it's probably best to shy away from this one.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I am mostly familiar with Michael Ian Black from his radical feminist poetry, written under a pseudonym of course. But we know who he is.

Seriously though, I am familiar with Michael Ian Black the basic cable TV superstar, from shows such as "The State" and the bite-sized nuggets of inanity from "I Love the 70's/80's/90's/Bradys."

Since I'm used to Black in TV nugget form, can he successfully hold my interest in book form? Thankfully so, because My Custom Van is split into bite-sized nugget essays on topics ranging from erotic fiction to instructions for cleaning ladies ("My advice would be to hold your breath, clean as much as you can, run outside, take another deep breath, and then clean some more.")

His humor isn't as observational as comics like Carlin, Seinfeld, and Attell. His essays are zany dysfunctional takes and anecdotes on many different topics, usually with a crazy twist at the end of each one. Very entertaining. And, let's be honest, in this Internet and TV society of fast cuts and instant gratification, who would have the patience for an entire 200+ page book with one continuous plot or theme?

I sort of expected to learn more about Black in this book. All in all, I'm not sure how much this book is really about Michael Ian Black, you can't tell since he writes most of his essays from the viewpoint of fictional personas. If the viewpoints expressed by the fictional personas are really Black's, he is a sad, sick, twisted, funny man.

But I still do respect him for his radical feminist poetry.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
What can I expect from a collection of humorous essays introduced by Abe Lincoln? Apparently, hilarity.

I have enjoyed the talents of Michael Ian Black for several years across several television stations and different program formats, but I approached the book carefully for several reasons. In my opinion, so much of comedy is in the timing of the delivery, the cadence of the speech, and the inflection in the voice that I often approach comedic books with trepidation, if not outright fear, of wasting my time. I have read books written by other comedians that fell flat because there was not enough thought given to the change in format. Written comedy has to be presented a little differently sometimes to still come out funny, and some jokes do not translate at all (try reading a transcript of "Who's on first?"). Additionally, many comics try to write a whole book and present it the way they would a set or a monologue. A book cannot be fine tuned to the reaction of the audience as it is read (at least, not yet) so there is no way to gauge which part you should ad lib a little on and which part you should drop. It is also hard to be topical because some issues have no lasting impact and you cannot really revisit them. Few comedic books have earned my respect and few still have been recommended by me to friends and family.

Somehow, Mr. Black managed to discover a way to not only preserve his delivery but also to give us a book with humor that has no expiration date. Presenting his work as a collection of essays gives the reader options not available in a traditional format. Here, if I start reading an essay and it does not suit my mood I can simply flip a couple of pages and move on to a different entry.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
To start, I like Michael Ian Black. I think he's funny, and quite talented. Who couldn't love him as Johnny Blue Jeans on "Viva Variety"? I am a fan of Black's contemporaries like Jon Stewart, Amy Sedaris, and Stephen Colbert, and thoroughly enjoy off-color, politically incorrect, crude humor. Yes, I even enjoy Reno 911 on occasion. Black's book should be a winner, but most of the nonsensical stories fall flat. Though the book has its moments, most of the stories are rambling and nonsensical in a most unfunny way. What's funny about coloring your privates with a highlighter and then wondering if the color would wear off during sex? I just don't get it. It's not smart, witty, or even sarcastically funny. It's like listening to "that guy", you know the one, the one that thinks he's much funnier than he actually is and just ends up making a fool of himself and making everyone listening feel uncomfortable. Forced laughter anyone? By all accounts this book should be irreverent, but only achieves irrelevant. Pass on this one kids... it's like bad stand-up comedy.
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