Lewis Black

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PostPosted: Tue Dec 04, 2007 6:08 pm    Post subject: Lewis Black Reply with quote

Lewis Black: furious comedian
Julie Hinds
December 3, 2007 8:40 AM
Detroit Free Press

Lewis Black is sort of like 12 angry men rolled into one. At this year's Emmys, he was gloriously apoplectic, ranting at network executives for junking up TV screens with those annoying promos on what to watch next. ''We don't care about the next show! We're watching this show!'' Black screamed, speaking for every viewer who's wanted to throw a shoe at a pop-up ad.

Black yells for all of us, really. He's become famous for his ''Back in Black'' commentaries on ''The Daily Show,'' where he rages with exasperated passion on politics and life. Next spring, he's scheduled to get his own show on Comedy Central, ''The Root of All Evil,'' where he'll be in charge as pop culture's excesses are put on trial.

Given that Black also writes books, costars in movies and keeps up a rigorous touring schedule, it's hard to understand how he has the energy to maintain his fury. But that's the easy part. He only has to look at the daily headlines on global tensions, the economy or the presidential race to find fresh material. ''It just piles on,'' he says, speaking en route from New York to Connecticut for another show. ''I pine for the days when I just talked about weather.''

Q: You get very worked up during your act. Have you ever fainted onstage like Marie Osmond?

A: No, I haven't. I think it actually is healthy for me to do that. I would explode if I just kind of sat on this.

Q: Anger isn't an acceptable or popular emotion in everyday life. But do you think, in some ways, that rage is underrated?

A: I don't think rage, per se, is the best thing to bring out at parties. But I do think being angry about certain things and then channeling it in some ways is a smart thing. Outside of politics, the next business you could be in that would inspire rage is entertainment. I used to actually go to meetings and blow up, which was really part of the reason it took so long for me to be found.

Q: How much of what you do onstage relates to your real life? I wonder about your threshold for the small irritations of life.

A: I'm not good. You know, you dial your information and it says what city, what state, what's the place you want to get. I literally sometimes, about every fifth time, just start yelling: ''Gimme a real person! Gimme a real person!'' And then nine times out of 10, they give you a real person, so what are we doing this for?

Q: Do you ever approach people who are irritating you, like, if you were in a movie with a loud talker or a restaurant with a loud cell phone conversation?

A: Usually not, because they're the ones I'm worried about. They're the ones that might snap. They're the ones who don't know where they are in time and space.

Q: Is there a challenge in staying upset, to being able to tap into life's frustrations when you're appreciated by a wider audience?

A: I'm as angry about the things I find wrong as I've always been. Just because somebody pays me more doesn't make it any better. ... Also, too, you have an audience that really lets you go further. I used to have to try to attract people to listen to the kind of stuff I was doing. Now I have this really great audience, and I can go on and talk about things in ways I never imagined would be possible. A lot of the times, the audience seems to be more bitter than I am.

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PostPosted: Thu Jun 12, 2008 4:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

There's an interview with Lewis Black about religion and his new book from NPR if you click HERE
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 22, 2008 2:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Comedian Lewis Black has them in stitches at College of Marin
Comedian Lewis Black talks about his new book, Me of Little Faith, at College of Marin s Olney Hall in Kentfield on Wednesday. (IJ photo/Jeff Vendsel)
Staff Report

Lewis Black, the irascible comedian whose angry rants on "The Daily Show" with Jon Stewart have made him a household name, was in Marin Wednesday, having a hard time believing this is one of the wealthiest counties in the country. On a tour promoting his new book, "Me of Little Faith," Black appeared in a Book Passage-sponsored event in College of Marin's tacky, outmoded, slightly dilapidated Olney Hall.

"I'm a little stunned, having been in Marin before," he said, frowning at the peeling walls, the grimy floors, the ancient seats, the bedraggled marigolds in plastic pots in front of his lectern. "This is the room?" he asked incredulously as several hundred fans burst into laughter and applause. "Is there no paint? Can I buy a couple of buckets? There are common cleansers, you know. I can contribute a few of those. There's gotta be some money somewhere." For the record, Olney Hall is scheduled to be replaced in 2011.

Wearing dark slacks, an unbuttoned dress shirt with a T-shirt underneath that had an incongruous dove of peace on the front, Black settled hilariously into his signature angry man persona - jabbing his finger in the air, waving his arms madly, violently shaking his jowls, dropping F-bombs.

When a woman came in late, walking directly in front of him, he watched her take a seat, then told her, "We said whoever came in last would have to pay to renovate the room." Looking out at a smattering of empty seats in the back of the hall, he said, "Usually, I expect a full house, but, since this is Marin, it's seven o'clock and it's time for pilates, or meditating, or some kind of crystal hoo-hah. The grand sherpa is visiting down the road. You don't want to miss that."

He kept up his good-natured kidding, saying, "Since we have a quorum, we should have a town meeting to figure out when you're gonna get your (bleep) together." When someone in the audience mentioned that they saw him jaywalking earlier in the day, he shot back, "This being Marin, I didn't realize there were so many cars."

Black is the hottest comic on the planet at the moment. His three-minute "Back in Black" segment, in which he rails about whatever is irritating him at the moment, is one of the most popular and longest running bits on "The Daily Show." He's taped four specials for the "Comedy Central Presents" series and has put out six comedy CDs, including "Luther Burbank Performing Arts Center Blues," which earned him a Grammy nomination in 2006, and the Grammy-winning "The Carnegie Hall Performance" last year. He has a pair of HBO specials - "Black on Broadway" and "Red, White and Screwed." Football fans know him for his regular feature on "Inside the NFL." And he stars in the new Comedy Central series "Lewis Black's Root of All Evil."

When someone asked him who he thought was the root of all evil, he didn't miss a beat, saying "I'm kind of leaning toward Oprah." Black describes "Me of Little Faith," a series of comic chapters on his relationship with religion and spirituality, as "a book for people stumbling toward the light."

Comedian Will Durst, on hand to introduce his longtime friend, pointed out that "Me of Little Faith" is No. 9 on the bestseller list. "The only reason my book is number nine is because I've become a logo," Black said, commenting on America's celebrity-driven pop culture. "It's called branding, and I'm a brand. Since I'm a brand, I'm allowed to put books out."

When Black mentioned the same-sex marriages that were legalized the day before, the crowd erupted in applause. "You guys really are like in a different time zone," he said. "You're maybe 30 years ahead." He expressed his outrage at opponents of gay marriage, like U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum, describing him as "the first senator in office for six years who was actually brain dead." "The line that gets me is that homosexuality is a threat to the American family," he went on. "They never explain how that is. They just say it. But I saw nothing but happy, smiling faces. That's what they see as a threat. These people are happy!"

Someone asked him about his gigantic tour bus, which was idling outside the hall, waiting to take him to his next appearance. "The reason the price of gas is what it is has nothing to do with any of the explanations that are given," he remarked. "Gas prices began to rise when I got that (bleeping) tour bus."

Black did more than an hour of what amounted to a stand-up routine laced with riotous improvisation. From beginning to end, he had the crowd in stitches. Because his appearance was free, it was the best entertainment value in the county. Black was happy to do it. He knows how strapped we are for cash.


His book is #9 on the best-seller list? blimey - that pretty much makes him too popular for this site!
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 19, 2009 3:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

One angry man: Comedian Lewis Black points out idiocy for all of us
By Steve Wildsmith
of The Daily Times Staff
January 15. 2009

Lewis Black is the guy sitting at the bar, railing to whomever will listen. Most of the time, he has an audience -- a few fans of his rants and raves who watch, mesmerized, as his face reddens and the veins in his temples throb and spittle flies from his mouth as he speaks, increasingly louder, about all that is wrong with this country.

He pounds the bar, points at the television hanging over the liquor and asks why ... why doesn't anyone else see what the hell is going on? And the thing is, he makes perfect sense -- so much so that a lot of folks would rather pass him by, rolling their eyes and dismissing his diatribe as the venom of a bitter old man.

To pay him close attention ... to ponder the points he makes ... to perhaps share his indignation ... well, that's a little too much for most of us. Our comfortable lives are too routine, too orderly, to be shaken up by a fuming old guy, and so we chuckle at his madness and go on our merry way. But that doesn't stop him from carrying on --¨ because sooner or later, if he can get enough people to listen, then maybe some things will get done.

He doesn't count on it, because that's just who he is -- a cynical comic whose stand-up routine amounts to pointing out the absurdities of government and society and smacking himself in the forehead because no one else sees it and are unwilling to act even if they do.

"All I do with my act is tweak the anger," Black told The Daily Times this week. "Basically, when I come on stage, I'm yelling about what makes me angry. That's really the deal. I start talking about what I'm thinking, and it makes me angry. Of course, I'm not like that all the time -- if I was, I'd be dead! But I can get worked up about it. On programs like 'The Daily Show," I'm a 7; in person, I can go to 12."

Black, who weaves his anger into comedy that's won him a Grammy Award, among other recognitions, will perform his stand-up Wednesday night at The Tennessee Theatre in downtown Knoxville. It's the day after the inauguration of Barack Obama as the 44th President of the United States, but does that mean Black will soften his tone? Will it make him more easygoing, more prone to something as mundane as knock-knock jokes or off-color stories? You only has to look at the plummeting NASDAQ and Dow numbers to figure out the answer.

"The thing is, my comments have never been pre-determined by who's been in office -- it's basically about authority, and authority always seems to have a problem," he said. "What's really irritating is this kind of thinking like, 'Oh, look -- we elected somebody of color; therefore we're not so bad! We're back on track!' We're not even close! It's like a Catholic who goes to confession and then feels great.

"Part of it is that the Republicans keep screaming that the solution to everything is business, and the Democrats come back and say that business isn't doing anything. Well, why don't you find the right people to do the job? I've worked in government, but I don't have their bias, and nothing makes me angrier than that bias. Government is nothing more than people -- that's what government is, you morons. And after eight years of people saying, 'The government stinks, but just do it,' at least Obama is saying that government is noble."

Whether it's noble or not, government is populated with idiots and morons, according to Black, and he's been pointing that out since he came onto the national comedy scene in the early 1990s.

Born in Washington, D.C., he fell in love with theater as a kid and pursued a career in drama at the University of North Carolina. It was there that he first tried his hand at stand-up comedy, a calling that, it turned out, he had a knack for. After a time in New York, during which he served as playwright-in-residence for the West Bank Cafe Downstairs Theatre Bar, he devoted himself to stand-up full-time in the late 1980s.

It was in 1996 that he was first introduced to a national audience, through a weekly segment for the fledgling Comedy Central program "The Daily Show." It was a precursor to his famous stand-up routine -- a three-minute rant about whatever was bothering him at the moment. It evolved into its own segment, "Back in Black," and today Black continues to make regular appearances on "The Daily Show." He's also taped four specials for Comedy Central, created over a couple of other programs and has recorded several comedy albums -- including "The Carnegie Hall Performance," which won a Grammy for Best Comedy Album in 2007.

Over the past decade, he's spread out -- appearing on various late-night talk shows and political programs like "Larry King Live" and "Countdown with Keith Olbermann," penning two bestselling books and developing two HBO specials, one of which was nominated for an Emmy. He's been a regular contributor on "Inside the NFL," been asked to participate in Comic Relief and earned small roles in various TV programs.

Despite his political punditry, however -- and despite the increasing focus in recent years on the part of the media of every move that politicians make -- there's still a woeful lack of action, and that gets Black steamed perhaps more than anything else.

"It's greater scrutiny, but less information -- until last night on '60 Minutes,' I hadn't heard anybody explain to me why the price of gas went up last year," he said. "Really? It takes nine months to figure this stuff out? And why hasn't it produced any action? Because the Democrats and the Republicans started to take themselves way too seriously, like somehow their side has the solution. It doesn't matter what their side thinks -- their job is to figure out what's in the middle!"

Not that politicians take the opinions of a comedian like Black into account -- "I'm off their radar," he says -- but with the souring economy and the growing recession, perhaps more Americans will start to listen more closely. And maybe ... just maybe ... they'll start to hold their government representatives more accountable. Because in today's troubled times, Black said, there's a serious lack of leadership, at least in the current administration.

"Basically, I think, the biggest challenge will be getting people over the fear that they're not going to have anything tomorrow," Black said. "They did a better job scaring us about the economy than they ever did about terrorism; that's what's really spectacular. All I know is that after (Bush) yelled and screamed that we're going to hell in a hand basket, I was in a nice restaurant in New York, and they weren't giving (stuff) away for free. But they really freak people out with their talk. And what's the deal with the first bailout? We give $700 billion to banks, and they're allowed to go out and buy stuff?

"There was no oversight, so now it's like, 'Let's try it again.' I don't care what they say or talk about, they need oversight! You figure out how much is needed, how much is too much, and you do it because that's your job! It's a pain in the ass, but you better figure it out, and don't tell me that with oversight, the economy's not going to function! Just figure it out!"

The phone line crackles as Black's voice gets louder, and it's obvious that while he might amplify his anger on stage, it's no act. He's a seriously angry individual, and the way he tells it, it's for good reason. Sometimes, the laughter it generates comes from righteous indignation and cries of agreement; sometimes, it's just wide-eyed incredulity that a guy can get so worked up over something that so many others seem to care so little about.

But that's not going to stop him from ranting. The faces in government may change, but Black will still be that guy down at the corner bar, finding some new insanity, some different form of stupidity, to rage over.

"Part of it is that laughter provides a kind of insulation from the madness," he said. "What makes comedians different from other pundits is that the most important thing is getting the laugh, and that somehow becomes an attractive way to package information sometimes. It take a lot of the onus off of us, because you can look at both points of view and come up with the thing in between that's funny.

"And sometimes, they make it easy for us. Sometimes, all you have to do is quote them."
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PostPosted: Sat May 02, 2009 6:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Laughs fuelled by outrage
Lewis Black finds plenty of humour on life's dark side
By Adrian Chamberlain,
Times Colonist
May 2, 2009

I've always thought anger was funny. Not when people are infuriated with me (recently the case with Leonard Cohen's ultra-zealous parish). And certainly not when I'm annoyed with others. But when it comes to comedy, I love a little industrial-grade vitriol -- whether it be John Cleese pummelling his car with a tree branch, Jackie Gleason struggling to contain his gargantuan fury or Larry David lobbing a nasty dollop of unwanted advice. Anger is the spice that makes it nice; it adds grit and authenticity.

Lewis Black -- performing in Victoria on Tuesday -- is one angry comic. He knows it. Everyone does. At a Toronto show, he peppered his patter with four-letter words, zinged George Bush as a "dry drunk" and declared that "Obama's nipples are bursting with hope." That last quip still makes me laugh out loud. He's no shock comic, though. And he's certainly no dummy. Most know him from his regular appearances on Jon Stewart's The Daily Show, where he dispenses his Back in Black commentaries. Politics, pop culture, history -- you name it, it's all grist for Black's thinking-man's mill.

But the anger. Where does that come from, anyway? I phoned Black in New York, where he immediately started complaining about the weather ("It's been dog shit!"). He said in years past, his onstage fury was kept in check. His show was relatively mild. Then one day a friend suggested the not-so-pent-up hostility he displays in conversation would be dynamite in performance. "He just said, 'You should be yelling up there. You're pissed!' "

So it came to pass that Black starting ranting and getting red in the face on stage. And lo and behold, his audiences saw it was good. It's as if Black channels the rage and frustration experienced by any reasonably intelligent human being living in the 21st century -- the age of Paris H., Rush L., Sarah P. and reality TV programs. No need to kick the dog or shoot the TV when Lewis Black's on hand to do it for you, metaphorically speaking. Black likes the tension that anger fuels in his act. Folks get charged up. Then there's the emotional release a well-timed punchline provides. "But if everybody acted like I act on stage, I don't think we'd get very far," he said.

The son of a mechanical engineer, Black was originally a playwright and actor, taking a master's degree at the Yale School of Drama. He acted as MC for many theatre performances, eventually shifting to standup comedy. He has done terrifically well, recording half a dozen comedy albums and winning a Grammy in 2007 for The Carnegie Hall Performance. He has written books and more than 40 plays.

In a short biographical paragraph, it sounds like smooth sailing. But Black has had his share of downs as well as ups. He admits he used to routinely sabotage his own career by being too, well ... straightforward. Take, for example, his early experiences with the theatre establishment. "I told a couple of people who were running theatres, who basically handed me a line of shit, to go fuvk themselves. It took me a while to learn, oh yeah, that's not gonna work."

Something similar happened in the early '80s, when CBS invited young writers to meet and discuss ideas. After talking to a few suits, Black realized his ideas weren't going to fly. When he finally sat before a panel of execs with impressive dental veneers, he said: "I'm not gonna pitch you. You're not gonna buy, so it's nice to meet you and I'll move on." Ah, come on, said the suits. Pitch us. So Black did. "And the guy went, 'No, no, that's not going to work.' " What Black pitched was a satirical TV show that pokes fun at current events and politics. Sort of like -- yes, you guessed it -- The Daily Show.

Not so many years ago, Black was doing OK as a comedian, but not great. Yes, he was touring comedy clubs. He was working hard. But he'd never done major-league things like play Montreal's Just for Laughs. "I felt like I'd licked every inch of the ladder," Black said. "I was banging my head against the wall." One day he arrived home to find a message on his answering machine. It was from George Carlin. The late Carlin was a comedian's comedian. If you're a classical pianist, it'd be like getting a message from Van Cliburn or Horowitz. If you were a baseball player, it'd be like hearing from Babe Ruth.

It was a terrifically supportive message -- something to the effect that Carlin truly admired his comedy and thought his writing was great. "The Carlin call was better than anything else," said Black. "That was as good as it's gonna get. So I thought, 'Shut the fuck up and go about your work.'"
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 03, 2009 11:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

A quickie with... Daily Show regular Lewis Black
3 Jun 09

Citizens of Stockholm should prepare to be in stitches on June 5th Ė stand-up comedian Lewis Black is coming to town, and the funnymanís performance is sure to be nothing short of hilarious. The American comedian and actor is perhaps most famous for his regular segments on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, though heís currently on stand-up tour. The Local caught up with Black to find out more about his career, inspiration and thoughts on Scandinavia.

Have you ever been to Sweden before?
No. But long ago, when I was young, I had a wonderful relationship with a Swedish girl. And I have seen all of Ingmar Bergman's films. I don't think either really count.

How do you plan on making the Swedes laugh?
Hopefully the way I make all my audiences laugh, by just yacking away.

Aside from your show, what are you planning to do once youíre here in Sweden? Eat meatballs at IKEA while listening to ABBA?
I have already had those meatballs. I like ABBA. What's not to like? But I wonít go to Mamma Mia.

In your stand-up routines, you have joked a lot about American culture and stereotypes. What do you have to say about your experiences in European culture?
I would like to spend more time immersed in European culture, so that I would have as much to say about it as I do about my own country. Itís why this is what I hope is the first of many tours of Europe.

Do you think there is anything that Americans can learn from Europeans? Or vice-versa?
I think Americans can learn that other countries have solved problems that we face and maybe the answers they have found would work in our country. And that life is too short not to enjoy it more - we work ourselves to death here. Europeans could learn that the United States is a multicultural petri dish and there is a lot one can gather by watching us mature, if we ever do.

Do you think itís more difficult to make European audiences laugh?
I think what makes it difficult is that I think too much about it because of language and culture, and donít rely on my instincts enough. But each time it gets easier.

As a comedian, where do you get inspiration from?
Anything that makes me angry. Usually it's stupidity.

Do you ever find that people donít take you seriously when you want them to, because of your job?
No, actually they take comics in the States way too seriously sometimes.

Do you get stage-fright before you perform?
Hardly ever.

Which do you prefer Ė acting in movies or doing live stand-up?
I like doing movies. I love doing live stand-up. Not that I wouldn't like to do a few more movies.
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 08, 2009 4:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

'Stark Raving Black': Comedian Lewis Black at his cranky best
He rants on a variety of subjects in the concert film that captures the best of his finger-stabbing, obscenity-laced comedic stylings.
Gary Goldstein
October 8, 2009

Lewis Black gets it right when, at the start of his concert film "Stark Raving Black," he suggests his audience lower their expectations "about 20%." The cranky funnyman seems well aware that his comic stylings might land the majority of the time, but -- as is the case with most stand-up routines -- not always.

Black's ranting and roiling shtick, shot over two performances this past August at Detroit's Fillmore Theatre, has, in fact, an impressive ratio of hits to misses. Numbers aside, his material makes for an entertaining, fast-moving and often very funny 80 minutes.

Black, who is also an actor, playwright, bestselling author and frequent contributor to "The Daily Show With Jon Stewart," targets a wide range of topics here, which he delivers with his trademark tempest of exasperated irony, laced with heavy doses of profanity and finger-stabbing -- and the very rare smile. Black's diatribes about turning 60 (let's just say he doesn't consider it "the new 40"), U.S. politics and iPhones, along with bits about his elderly parents, are among the film's highlights.
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 05, 2010 6:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Lewis Black at Bergen PAC

Lewis Blackís blood pressure is Ė amazingly ó normal. "The rest of my system is probably rotting, but my blood pressure is spectacular," says the comedian. A good thing, too, considering how many things elevate his pulse.

The loony right, the lame left, the economic meltdown, the swift boaters and conspiracy theorists and religious zealots, elected officials and non-elected crazies, are just some of the things that make Blackís face go red, his voice rise and his hands shake uncontrollably.

Itís a shtick now ó after 30 years on the road, a recurring stint on "The Daily Show With Jon Stewart" and a series of HBO specials that made him a national figure. Along with Stewart and Stephen Colbert, heís one of the crew of politicized, left-of-center comedians who rode the wave of anti-Bush feeling to stardom. But the rage, he says, is real Ė even if he now exaggerates it for theatrical effect. So are the trembling hands.

"I wasnít even conscious I was doing it," he says. "I literally saw people doing it, at the Tropicana in New Jersey after a show. I was coming down the elevator and these kids are coming up the elevator doing it, and I turned to my friends and I said, ĎWhatís that?í and they said, ĎThatís you, you schmuck.í "

Author (including new book "Iím Dreaming of a Black Christmas"), playwright (Yale Drama School, 1977), actor in films like "Hannah and Her Sisters" and "Jacobís Ladder," Black has yet another string in his bow: game show host. His 2008 Comedy Central series "Lewis Blackís Root of All Evil" pitted loathsome people or revolting ideas against each other as advocates argued the burning question: which is worse? For instance: Kim Jong-Il or Tila Tequila? Donald Trump or Viagra?

In honor of Blackís upcoming appearance Thursday and Friday at bergenPAC, we decided to play a round.

OK, Tea Party versus "Jersey Shore."
Wow. "Jersey Shore."

How come?
Itís more of a distraction. The Tea Party at least, for all its faults, lets people know thereís a real genuine anger out there about things. "The Jersey Shore," especially for someone like myself who tried to actually learn a craft and perform and write and sees this whole thing of entertainment as a skilled position ó this is like high school.

Do you not take them [the Tea Party] seriously?
LEWIS BLACK: No, I take their anger very seriously. Ö I relate to their anger and frustration over their powerlessness. I get that.

But Snooki is worse?
I still think that Snooki is worse.
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