Michael Ian Black

Michael Ian Black's strange career trajectory has taken the slight, dark-haired actor-writer-comedian from hip MTV icon to beloved sock puppeteer to a scene-stealing supporting character on the hit NBC series "Ed" (2000-04). The New Jersey native hooked up with fellow performers while attending New York University and formed a comedy troupe with a skewed, surrealistic approach to sketch comedy. Initially called 'The New Group', the collective became well-known at NYU, opening for campus guests like Dennis Miller before undergoing name changes, first being redubbed 'The State: Full-Frontal Comedy' and finally going by just 'The State'. Black and his cohorts shopped the group's brand of comedy to MTV, who initially passed but offered them the opportunity to write, produce and star in skits on the network's series "You Wrote It, You Watch It" (1992), which dramatized events submitted by viewers. They made the most of the next-to-nothing budget, and their wacky take on often average events set the tone for the short-lived show hosted by Jon Stewart.