Cover art for podcast How To Be Amazing with Michael Ian Black

How To Be Amazing with Michael Ian Black

105 EpisodesProduced by Michael Ian BlackWebsite

In this in-depth interview show, Black takes listeners into the minds of some of today’s most fascinating celebrities and newsmakers to discuss the process of how they became, well, amazing. Brought to you by PRX.

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Welcome to How To Be Amazing with Michael Ian Black

May 11th, 2015


Amazing people are all around us.  In this new, in-depth interview show from PRX, Michael Ian Black takes us into the minds of some of the most fascinating celebrities, newsmakers and maybe even a few people you’ve …

#1 Elizabeth Gilbert

May 26th, 2015


The best-selling author of Eat, Pray, Love (among many other great works) Elizabeth Gilbert talks to Michael about creative process – her own and others who have inspired her in this interview that covers some big …

#2 Lin-Manuel Miranda

May 26th, 2015


Lin-Manuel Miranda, the the Tony Award winning-lyricist who’s musical In the Heights catapulted him on the Broadway scene at a very young age and is …

#3 Tavi Gevinson

May 26th, 2015


Michael meets Tavi Gevinson, who while still a teen, now oversees a staff of fifty people at her magazine Rookie which grew out of her popular …

#4 Bob Odenkirk

May 26th, 2015


Actor, comedian and author Bob Odenkirk talks about his professional journey starting as a brash young writer for Saturday Night Live, to working as …

#5 Kevin Smith

June 9th, 2015


Michael takes us into the world of the fascinating, profane, indie movie director, Kevin Smith, who helped change the world of movie-making with his first film, Clerks.  For anyone who has had a dream and failed.  And …

#6 Amy Schumer

June 23rd, 2015


Michael sits down with his friend and fellow comedian, Amy Schumer to discuss her years trying to make it in stand-up, how she made her hit Comedy Central show Inside Amy Schumer, and her upcoming film with Judd Apatow,

#7 Carl Tanner

July 8th, 2015


Operatic tenor, Carl Tanner, spent years hiding from his voice, first as a truck driver and then a bounty hunter until he finally decided to put the guns down and pursue his incredible talent.  Today he sings on the …

#8 Brian Greene

July 22nd, 2015


In this episode, Michael takes listeners into the world of the theoretical physicist and string theorist, Brian Greene, who has the unusual gift for …

#9 Miranda July

August 5th, 2015


Award-winning filmmaker, writer and multimedia artist, Miranda July seems to have dreams of conquering the world. Unlike most of us, she has wicked …

#10 Frank Rich

August 19th, 2015


In this episode, Michael hears about the fascinating life of Frank Rich whose career includes stints as the Chief Theater Critic for The New York …

#11 Nate Silver

September 2nd, 2015


In this episode, Michael talks with Nate Silver, the founder and editor-in-chief of, who is a statistical celebrity.  His take on data is not only accessible and fascinating to those of us who …

#12 Megan Mullally

September 16th, 2015


After barely paying her rent for years trying to make it as an actress, Megan Mullally hit the big time playing the wealthy, alcoholic socialite …

#13 Chris Hardwick

September 30th, 2015


King of the nerds, Chris Hardwick, sits down with Michael to discuss how he figured it all out.  The talk show host and CEO of Nerdist Industries got his start on the MTV game show Singled Out. After several years of …

#14 Tom Colicchio

October 13th, 2015


Superstar chef Tom Colicchio went from flipping grilled cheese in his bare feet at a concession stand to overseeing a restaurant empire.  When he’s …

#15 A.D. Miles

October 28th, 2015


In this episode, Michael chats with A.D. Miles about his journey from prop stylist to his current job as head writer for The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.  The Wet, Hot American Summer co-stars discuss everything …

#16 Ingrid Michaelson

November 11th, 2015


Ingrid Michaelson is the best-selling recording artist of such hits as “Girls Chase Boys” and “The Way I Am.”  While her voice certainly qualifies …

#17 Bobcat Goldthwait

November 25th, 2015


In the late 80’s and 90’s Bobcat Goldthwait was one of the biggest comedians in the US.  His trademark voice and sharp black comedy led him to …

#18 Alexis Ohanian

December 9th, 2015


In his early 20’s Alexis Ohanian and his partner Steve Huffman started the popular social media site which made him a millionaire after …

#19 David Sedaris Part 1Money

December 23rd, 2015


Beloved author David Sedaris became a household name in his mid-thirties when he performed his iconic holiday story “SantaLand Diaries” on public …

#20 David Sedaris Part 2 Family

December 30th, 2015


In Part 2 of Michael’s interview with David Sedaris, they talk about growing up Sedaris and how his relationship with his father motivated him to be the writer he is today.

#21 Felicia Day

January 7th, 2016


When Felicia Day moved to Hollywood after being a musical and math prodigy in college, she expected that being an actress would be as easy.  She was …

#22 Baratunde Thurston

January 20th, 2016


Baratunde Thurston grew up in a poor, drug plagued neighborhood in D.C. then spent years in the elite private school Sidwell Friends before being …

#23 Dan Harris

February 3rd, 2016


After years of covering wars oversee, it was reading the news on Good Morning America that nearly did in newsman Dan Harris after he suffered a major panic attack live on air.  His nationally televised wake-up call …

#24 Naomi Klein

February 17th, 2016


Naomi Klein is an award-winning journalist, syndicated columnist and author of the international bestsellers, The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of …

#25 John Leguizamo

March 2nd, 2016


Actor and playwright John Leguizamo has become famous for being an open book, which is apparent in his critically acclaimed one-man shows that chronicle his life from troublemaker to film star. In his conversation with …

#26 Chuck Klosterman

March 16th, 2016


Chuck Klosterman is best known for his wildly popular books on music and pop cultural including the mega hits “Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs: A Low …

#27 Audra McDonald

March 30th, 2016


The record-breaking, six-time Tony Award-winning actress Audra McDonald went from a hyper-active kid performing in the local dinner theater to Broadway mega-star. In this episode, Michael chats with her about failed …

#28 Jim Gaffigan

April 13th, 2016


In his early years as a comedian, Jim Gaffigan struggled to find his own comedic point of view.  It took him years to figure out that his best work meant being comfortable as his clean self and having faith that funny …

#29 Suzy Favor-Hamilton

April 26th, 2016


Suzy Favor-Hamilton was propelled into the spotlight at a young age as a talented middle distance runner. She went on to become a three-time Olympian.  But as her running career came to an end, she experienced extreme …

#30 Max Brooks

May 11th, 2016


When you grow up the only child of two very famous parents, most people don’t expect much from you, but Max Brooks wanted to prove to himself that he was more than just “Mel Brook’s kid.”  After trying his hand at …

#31 Krista Tippett

May 25th, 2016


On this episode, Michael goes deep with Krista Tippett. Tippett has devoted her professional life to asking the big questions on her show, On Being. …

#32 Memorial Day Special: Bryan Doerries

May 30th, 2016


Bryan Doerries is possibly the least likely defense contractor who has ever existed (background in the classics, and the kid of psychologists), but …

#33 Dan Savage

June 8th, 2016


America’s leading sex advice columnist known for his popular Savage Love column and podcast talks to Michael about how growing up a closeted gay …

#34 Lauren Mayberry

June 22nd, 2016


The lead singer, co-producer and co-writer of the Scottish pop band Chvrches talks to Michael about her journey from being a law school student and …

#35 Wayne Pacelle

July 5th, 2016


Wayne Pacelle took his childhood love of animals and made a career, you might even call it a crusade, helping them.  As the President and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States, Pacelle has learned to be a …

#36 Michael Showalter

July 20th, 2016


Michael sits down with his friend and fellow member of the comedy troupes The State and Stella for a lively, hilarious and moving conversation about finding your voice in the entertainment industry. The two reminisce …

#37 Valerie Plame

August 3rd, 2016


As a spy, Valerie Plame’s job was for nobody to know her identity.  All that changed when members of George W. Bush’s administration outed her to a reporter in retaliation for her husband public criticism of the Bush …

#38 Tim Gunn

August 17th, 2016


The fashion therapist and Project Runway mentor chats with Michael about his journey from an art student to one of the most trusted names in the fashion world. In this deeply personal and heartfelt conversation Gunn …

#39 Harlan Coben

August 31st, 2016


Best-selling author Harlan Coben has sold over 60 million books in 43 different languages.  In this episode he talks to Michael in a remarkably …

#40 Penn Jillette

September 14th, 2016


Legendary magician and raconteur Penn Jillette has a keen eye for calling out the bullshit around him, but it took a dangerous health scare for him …

#41 Sonia Manzano

September 28th, 2016


On this episode, Michael talks with Sonia Manzano on the heels of her recent Lifetime Achievement Emmy.  Manzano is best known as “Maria” on Sesame Street, a character she played for 44 years. In the humorous and …

#42 Daniel Kahneman

October 12th, 2016


When Michael spoke to Five Thirty Eight’s founder Nate Silver, he highly recommended Daniel Kahneman’s groundbreaking book Thinking Fast and Slow. Now, Michael talks to Kahneman, the Nobel Prize-winning author and …

#43 Al Roker

October 26th, 2016


America’s favorite weatherman talks to Michael about how he stumbled upon what became the career that he loves and would never give up, along with a …

#44 Sharon Horgan

November 9th, 2016


The UK creator, writer and star of such BBC hits as Pulling and the current Catastrophe (also seen on Amazon) talks to Michael about realizing that …

#45 Mary Roach

November 23rd, 2016


Michael sits down with the investigative journalist and bestselling author of Grunt, Stiff and Bonk for a humorous and insightful conversation about …

#46 Ira Glass

December 7th, 2016


From NPR intern to the creator, host, and Executive Producer of This American Life, one of the most popular shows on public radio, Ira Glass talks …

#47 Neil deGrasse Tyson

December 21st, 2016


In this wide ranging conversation, the world famous astrophysicist, Director of the Hayden Planetarium, television host, author and all around badass talks to Michael about how his early years opened his mind to the …

#48 Michael Lewis

January 4th, 2017


The bestselling author of The Blind Side, The Big ShortMoneyball and his newest, The Undoing Project, is known to be a master storyteller. He proves no different in this interview as he tells great stories about his …

#49 Andy Cohen

January 18th, 2017


Michael sits down with the charming author, host of Watch What Happens: Live and executive producer of The Real Housewives for a lively discussion …

#50 Amani Al-Khatahtbeh

February 1st, 2017


In this illuminating interview, Michael speaks to the millennial founder of, the number one online publication for Muslim women in the United States, and the author of the new memoir, Muslim Girl, about …

#51 Grace Helbig

February 15th, 2017


The YouTube star and bestselling author discusses how she stumbled into her successful career making funny videos watched by millions of viewers …

#52 David Wain

March 1st, 2017


Following a heartfelt conversation with Michael Showalter, Michael talks with the third member of his iconic group Stella for an equally memorable …

#53 Deborah Berke

March 15th, 2017


Michael sits down with Deborah Berke, the first female dean at the Yale School of Architecture and founder of one of Architectural Digest’s top 100 …

#54 Daniel Handler

March 29th, 2017


In one of our funniest interviews to date, Michael sits down with Daniel Handler, whose books have sold over 60 million books worldwide under the …

#55 Josh Groban

April 12th, 2017


At the age of 17 a shy young man walked onto a stage to sing with Celine Dion and a star was born.  In the almost 20 years since that moment, Josh Groban has gone on to sell over 25 million records and tour giant arenas …

#56 Judd Apatow

April 20th, 2017


Judd Apatow is one of the most important influencers of comedy today. In this jam-packed episode, the writer, director and producer of such blockbusters as The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Knocked Up and This Is 40 traces the …

#57 Annie Duke

April 26th, 2017


Michael sits down with one of the world’s best known poker players to discuss her big wins and losses both at the table and in life, as well as her struggles being a woman in a male dominated profession. Of equal …

#58 Charles Limb

May 10th, 2017


Dr. Charles Limb has married his passion for music with his day job as a surgeon and neuroscientist and is studying the science of creativity. In his research Limb has started gathering some tantalizing clues about the …

#59 W. Kamau Bell

May 24th, 2017


The comedian, writer and host of the hit CNN docu-series United Shades of America has an often hilarious, frequently serious conversation with Michael about his years determined to break into comedy, what he needed to …

#60 Al Franken

May 31st, 2017


The Senator from the great state of Minnesota discusses his new memoir, Al Franken, Giant of the Senate, which traces his unlikely path from a 30 year career as a comedian, writing and starring at Saturday Night Live, …

#61 Dean Karnazes

June 14th, 2017


The man who ran 50 marathons in 50 states in 50 days, among many other incredible feats, Dean Karnazes has pushed his body and mind to inconceivable limits. In this inspiring conversation he tells Michael how he …

#62 Katy Perry

June 28th, 2017


One of pop music’s biggest stars – over the last ten years, she’s had 9 #1 hits, sold millions of albums, racked up billions of video views, and is …

#63 Andy Borowitz

July 12th, 2017


The political satirist traces his route from failed sitcom writer to creating and writing the popular New Yorker column, The Borowitz Report, where …

#64 Pamela Paul

July 26th, 2017


In a must listen episode for any person who loves to read, the editor of The New York Times Book Review is talking with Michael about writing, criticism and most of all, reading.  Her new book, the memoir My Life with …

#65 Cecile Richards

August 9th, 2017


The president of Planned Parenthood talks to Michael about how she got started in activism and organizing and what it was like growing up in conservative Texas as the daughter of two outspoken liberals. She also delves …

#66 Doug Stanhope

August 24th, 2017


Doug Stanhope is considered the comedian’s comedian for his precise writing and insightful, often cynical, and controversial social and political …

#67 Ina Garten

September 6th, 2017


In 1978, Ina Garten took a huge risk and left her job as a budget analyst in the White House to pursue her dream working with food. She packed her bags, moved to the Hamptons, bought a specialty food store and "The …

#68 Laurie Metcalf

September 20th, 2017


Widely recognized as one of America’s best actresses, the Emmy Award-winning star of Rosanne delves into a fascinating conversation about her genuine passion for the stage, creating characters and bringing a script to …

#69 DeRay Mckesson

October 4th, 2017


Michael talks social justice and activism with the former teacher and current civil rights activist and organizer who has become among the best-known faces and voices and vests of the Black Lives Matter movement.  He’s …

#70 Taran Killam

October 19th, 2017


The former Saturday Night Live cast member talks family life, creating celebrity impressions, and the day he learned his contract wasn’t being renewed.  Killamopens up about his life after leaving the iconic sketch show …

#71 Eileen Myles

November 1st, 2017


**The effortlessly cool author/poet and Michael have a candid, fascinating, emotionally raw discussion ranging from Eileen’s life growing up in a …

#72 Alyssa Milano

November 15th, 2017


In her podcast debut, the Charmed actress, philanthropist and entrepreneur opens up about the up and downs of navigating Hollywood after growing up …

#73 Malcolm Nance

November 29th, 2017


In a conversation Michael said he could have continued all day, he talks to the delightful American author and media commentator on terrorism, …

#74 Margaret Cho

December 13th, 2017


The outspoken comedian, activist, and actress sits down with Michael for an honest and thought-provoking episode, which dives into topics ranging from her history with addiction, sexual abuse and racism to lighter …

#75 The Lumineers: Wesley Schultz and Jeremiah Fraites

December 27th, 2017


Wesley Schultz and Jeremiah Fraites, the two founding members of the band The Lumineers, talk about their years hustling to make it as a band and …

#76 Reza Aslan

January 10th, 2018


What is God? What is faith? In this thought-provoking episode, Michael and one of today’s most renown religious thinkers and authors tackle some of the big questions and make us look hard at our own beliefs. Reza Aslan …

#77 Chris Thile

January 24th, 2018


Widely recognized as one of the greatest mandolinists of all-time (which he amply demonstrated when he offered to play in studio), Chris Thile joins …

#78 Tig Notaro

February 7th, 2018


In 2012, comedian Tig Notaro’s stand-up set, in which she boldly began with the line “Hello. Good evening. I have Cancer,” catapulted her into the …

#79 David Frum

February 21st, 2018


The pundit, former speechwriter for President George W. Bush, and author of several books, including the new bestseller Trumpocracy, discusses how he came to be a prominent voice for the conservative movement after …

#80 Tara Westover

March 7th, 2018


In this heartbreaking yet hopeful episode, the author of the stunning new memoir Educated, opens up about growing up in a family of radical Mormon …

#81 David Roberts

March 21st, 2018


One of the best Alaskan alpinists of his generation and most prolific American climbing authors with over 28 books to his name, David Roberts …

#82 Renée Fleming

April 4th, 2018


The opera superstar, and “People’s Diva,” discusses how her constant need to learn and challenge herself has taken her from the biggest opera houses …

#83 Maira Kalman

April 18th, 2018


The charming and hilarious illustrator, author, and designer Maira Kalman sits down for an inspiring conversation about how she follows her curiosity …

#84 George C. Wolfe

May 2nd, 2018


One of the greatest theater directors of all time, the gregarious and razor-sharp George C. Wolfe joins Michael in an in-depth and moving …

#85 Nell Scovell

May 16th, 2018


For more than thirty years, writer, producer, and director Nell Scovell worked behind the scenes of iconic TV shows such as Murphy Brown, The Simpsons, and Coach. In this lively and timely interview, she shares stories …

#86 Michael Pollan

May 30th, 2018


The author of many bestselling books about food including, among others, The Omnivore's Dilemma and* In Defense Of Food hasturned his attention to a new kind of consumption - psychedelic drugs. In this fun and …

Introducing Obscure - Michael's new podcast

June 8th, 2018


This is probably a terrible idea.” So begins the new podcast, “Obscure,” where comedian, actor, and writer Michael Ian Back reads the Thomas Hardy classic,Jude the Obscure,out loud and comments on it as he goes. Why is …

#87 David Cross

June 13th, 2018


The multi-talented actor, comedian, writer, and director sits down with Michael to discuss his journey from his first stand up performance as a …

#88 Giada De Laurentiis

June 27th, 2018


The Food Network star, bestselling cookbook author and now restaurateur tells Michael how her success all grew organically from her passion for cooking and not from a great ambition to be famous. But famous she is, and …

#89 Dan Pfeiffer

July 11th, 2018


One of President Obama’s longest-serving staffers, first as Communications Director then as Senior Advisor, and present co-host of the wildly popular …

#90 Saru Jayaraman

July 25th, 2018


The co-founder and president of ROC, Restaurant Opportunities Center United, Saru Jayaraman has devoted her career to improving the lives of restaurant workers. Her activism through legislation, initiatives, and …

#91 Carl Zimmer

August 8th, 2018


The author of 13 books about evolution, neuroscience, biology, and most recently heredity, as well as the weekly “Matter” science column in the New …

#92 Jay and Mark Duplass

August 22nd, 2018


In a very funny, touching, and creatively inspiring interview, the filmmakers discuss their incredibly close brotherly bond, how they never doubted …

#93 Tina M. Tchen

September 5th, 2018


The former Chief of Staff to First Lady Michelle Obama and leader of the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund talks about her time at the White House and her childhood growing up in 1960s Ohio as the daughter of Chinese …

#94 Zachary R. Wood

September 19th, 2018


As president of his college group "Uncomfortable Learning," Zachary R. Wood attempted to bridge the gap between dissenting views by inviting …

#95 Hank Green

October 3rd, 2018


In 2007, Hank Green along with his brother John, tried a Youtube experiment - for an entire year they made a video a day together - which they thought was a dumb idea. To their surprise, these videos quickly led to …

#96 Maeve Higgins

October 17th, 2018


The delightful and hilarious Irish-born comedian and writer sits down with Michael to discuss her passion for using her comedic voice to start …

#97 Kevin Allison

October 31st, 2018


Michael sits down with friend and fellow member of The State for a nostalgic, hilarious, and honest conversation about their time together in the iconic sketch group. For more than a decade after the tv show ended, the …

#98 Lynsey Addario

November 14th, 2018


She’s one of this generation’s pre-eminent photojournalists, who covers wars and conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Darfur, among others; during which she’s been kidnapped twice. In this riveting conversation, the …

#99 Jose Antonio Vargas

November 28th, 2018


Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist, and filmmaker Jose Antonio Vargas, called “the most famous undocumented immigrant in America,” shares his story of …

#100 Terry Gross

December 12th, 2018


For our 100th episode, Michael turns the tables on "the greatest interviewer of our time," a guest who we've had at the top of our wish list since the beginning. Terry Gross is the iconic host of the public radio show* …

#101 Bill Nye

December 26th, 2018


Best known as the host of Emmy Award-winning show Bill Nye the Science Guy, and current host of the Netflix show *Bill Nye Saves the World, *he has been the public face of science and discovery for more than twenty …

#102 Kathy Griffin

January 9th, 2019


Despite having endured a terrible year in the aftermath of her Trump photo controversy, the hilarious comedian kept everyone in the studio laughing. Kathy Griffin is without a doubt a survivor. She talks to Michael …

News for 2019

January 16th, 2019


A short message from host Michael Ian Black.

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