Michael Ian Black Says Playing the Pets.com Sock Puppet Was Literally Painful

Jim Gaffigan Show star talks Twitter, TV and more


Specs
Age 44
Claim to fame Comedian; star of Another Period on Comedy Central (Season 2 premieres June 15) and TV Land's The Jim Gaffigan Show (returns June 19 at 10 p.m.)
Base Connecticut
Twitter @michaelianblack

Adweek: What's the first information you consume in the morning?
Michael Ian Black: The New York Times print edition. I have it delivered every day. It's my favorite thing in the world. If I go cover to cover with the front section of the newspaper, I read a lot more than I would if I just read it online.

You were one of the first comedians to become really popular on Twitter when you joined back in 2009. Why did you get on there?
I was reluctant to, actually, but I had a friend who told me that somebody was pretending to be me on Twitter and that I should join to stop that from happening, so I did. And then I just got hooked on it. It's my little social media crack pipe.

Who do you follow?
It kind of varies. Right now, with the election, I'm paying a lot of attention to politics. There's a woman named Jenna Johnson who follows the Trump campaign [for The Washington Post] who's good, and Oliver Willis with Media Matters, I like him. I follow Dan Pfeiffer, who was Obama's director of communications. And then I have a circle of Twitter friends who I don't really know in real life but I know on Twitter.

Have any of your Twitter friends turned into real-life friends?
[Comedian] Rob Delaney is probably the closest. I didn't know Rob at all, and we became Twitter friends before we actually became friendly in real life.

Do you follow any politicians?
I kind of like my congressman, Jim Himes. He's got a sense of humor. I tend not to follow politicians because they're always so self-serving and they never actually say anything. But [Iowa Senator] Chuck Grassley is funny because he's basically incoherent most of the time.

What podcasts do you listen to?
Before you called, I was just listening to This American Life. I've also been listening to Keepin' It 1600, which is a new political podcast. It's interesting. It's really a deep dive into politics by two guys who really know politics [Dan Pfeiffer and former Obama speechwriter Jon Favreau].

What TV shows do you watch?
Right now, I'm watching Game of Thrones and The Night Manager. I liked the first two episodes of The Night Manager a lot, and then the third episode got very implausible and deus ex machina for me, so my wife and I were bitching about that to each other.

A lot of people might not know this, but you were the voice of the sock puppet from those famous Pets.com ads. What was that like?
It was an odd experience because the character became so much more popular than the company, and the company just couldn't survive. It was ahead of its time in certain ways because online shopping for commodities just wasn't a thing back then. It hadn't really entered the gestalt. But it was also a painful job because I had to stick my arm up all the time. You do that for 10 minutes at a time, and it actually hurts. I don't know how Triumph does it.

This story first appeared in the June 13, 2016 issue of Adweek magazine.
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