Michael Ian Black is rooting for Donald Trump. But don’t worry, it’s for “entirely selfish reasons.”
“I’m hoping it’s good for book sales,” the comedian says a few days after Trump took his place as the presumptive GOP presidential nominee.
Black has written a number of children’s books and multiple comic memoirs over the past several years, but the project he’s talking about today is very different. Called A Child’s First Book of Trump, it’s set to hit stores just before the Republican National Convention in Cleveland this summer. In a new interview with The Daily Beast, Black describes the book as a kind of “field guide” to the candidate.
“If you were a child and you were to spot a Trump in the woods, what would you do?” he asks. “How would you identify it? What are its characteristics? How does it behave? How do you keep yourself safe?” Think of Trump as the anti-Lorax.
At the beginning of the illustrated, Seussian book, a narrator asks, “What is this strange beast you keep hearing about? Together, I think we can figure it out…” Subsequent pages includes jabs at Trump’s small hands (“Its fur so complex, you might get enveloped. Its hands are, sadly, underdeveloped”) and past failures (“Trump this and Trump that, and Trump buildings and steaks. Trump airplanes and clothing and several Trump mates.”)
And of course, as in the exclusive page provided to The Daily Beast below, the Trump of Black’s book promises Americans they will be “winning so much, you might get depressed.”
“If he becomes president, my career is going to take off like a rocket,” Black jokes. “I can do a whole series of these books. I can do one on the first hundred days, on the inevitable impeachment. There’s all kinds of great things I can do.”
Black, who also has a new stand-up special called Noted Expert premiering on EPIX this Friday night, says he was inspired to pen the Trump book during a bathroom break at a New York City Barnes & Noble this year.
“I was in the children’s book section, because that is where the lavatory is located and I had to take a dump,” he explains. On his way out, he spotted the unironic children’s book Hillary Rodham Clinton: Some Girls Are Born to Lead, which paints Trump’s likely opponent as an inspirational figure for young women.
“It got me chuckling, thinking about what an inspirational book about Donald Trump would be like, because there’s nothing inspirational about him,” Black says. “He’s the son of a millionaire who became a billionaire. It’s not a very inspiring tale.” He wrote the first draft at a nearby Starbucks and after a few revisions to make it more funny, less sad, he’s ready to share it with the world.
As for the book’s intended audience, Black admits that it is targeted at adults, not children, much in same vein as recent faux-children’s books like Go the Fuck to Sleep and Stephen Colbert’s I Am a Pole (And So Can You!). “It actually is a book that parents could read to their children,” he says. “If the kids know nothing about Trump and politics, they would still find it funny.” But, he adds, “I’m hoping they’re not terrified by it.”
However, as much as Black is secretly hoping Trump’s success brings him more readers, he says he is “utterly distraught” over the possibility of a Trump presidency.
“It is alarming to think about, at its core, what is the distillation of the Trump phenomenon,” he adds. “Because even his supporters say, temperamentally, he has some work to do. On foreign policy, he has some work to do. On domestic policy, he has some work to do.”
“He has no platform, principles, or character. So what does he have?” Black asks. “Two things. One, deporting millions of people and two, banning Muslims. If that is the essence of his message, then that is alarming for what it says about us as a nation.”
While that type of serious rhetoric may be unexpected for those who know Black best from frivolous sketch comedy shows like The State or Stella, it will come as no surprise to his nearly 2 million Twitter followers, where he keeps up a near constant stream of political commentary and is occasionally forced to fend off right-wing trolls. “I do spend a lot of time being political on Twitter, but it’s not that funny,” he says. “I wish I were more entertaining on Twitter, but I’m mostly just annoying.”
This move away from the purely silly comedy of something like the Wet Hot American Summer film and series—he says knows “nothing” about the just-announced Netflix sequel other than “it’s happening” and “I seem to be included in it”—is more apparent than ever in the new stand-up special, which includes a material surrounding personal topics like fatherhood as well as politically-charged issues like abortion.
“I start by making fun of ‘pro-choice liberal assholes’ like myself,” Black says of the potentially divisive bit. “There’s plenty to make fun of about us. We’re the worst.”
On stage, he proceeds to question the principle of “viability” that we have collectively agreed is a reasonable cut-off after which abortion is no longer allowed. “That is a terrible way to determine when abortion should be legal,” he says, “because I know 25-year-olds who cannot live outside the womb without intervention.”
“I didn’t want talk about it in an strident way, because my feelings about it aren’t particularly strident,” Black says now. “And I do have a lot of sympathy for the pro-life people. So I wanted to write a sort of balanced but funny take on it. And hopefully people will think that’s what I did.”
As a self-described “liberal asshole,” Black says he went back and forth between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders over the course of the past several months. “Ultimately, I would be happy with either of them, but I have fallen on the side of Hillary,” he says, adding that he voted for Clinton in the Connecticut primary, where he lives with his wife and two children.
And he’s not particularly concerned with the “Bernie or bust” crowd that has threatened to stay home if their candidate isn’t on the ballot in November. While there will always be some “malcontents” among the Sanders supporters, Black believes the Democratic Party will eventually “rally around their eventual nominee.” Mostly because “the alternative is unthinkable.”
Even if it would be great for book sales.