When Michael Ian Black announced his newest podcast venture on Twitter this May I was skeptical. As a fan of his books, stand-up, and general deadpan humor, I give most things he produces a fair listen or watch. From Mike and Tom Eat Snacks with Tom Cavanagh to Topics with Michael Showalter, Michael Ian Black has successfully managed to leave me hanging twice. Maybe it’s not reasonable to ask someone to spend hours sitting around and eating Shrimp Chips for my amusement, but I was burned twice by Mr. Black’s many podcast “hiatuses” and I wasn’t confident that this one would change my mind.
Thankfully, How to Be Amazing is a refreshing journey into a sincere side of Michael Ian Black. It seems like every comedian out there is trying to morph the, Marc Maron, WTF formula to suit their own needs and the end product is usually disappointing. Black steers clear of this over-share model and cuts to the core of what his guests do the best. Kept to a listenable one hour time frame, the episodes are free of rambling promotions or opinionated monologues, just clear storytelling with plenty of funny nuggets and bits of information you wouldn’t find searching the guests’ Wikipedia pages.
How to Be Amazing is inspirational without being preachy and the diversity of the guests make each episode a discovery. One of my favorite episodes featured, Carl Tanner, a bounty hunter turned opera singer I’d never heard of with a fascinating story of success. Perfect for uplifting your morning commute, How to Be Amazing offers insight into the vast meanings of “making it” and reassures listeners to keep at whatever makes their own lives amazing.
Episode 1 – Elizabeth Gilbert
Episode 3 – Tavi Gevinson
Episode 7 – Carl Tanner