Black re­mains all the rage

> Co­me­dian in full un­bleeped form in film, at Or­pheum

The Commercial Appeal - Go Memphis - - Stage - By Christo­pher Blank

Spe­cial to The Com­mer­cial Ap­peal

At 61, co­me­dian Lewis Black is as vit­ri­olic as ever. That means he’s also as pro­duc­tive as ever. His new live con­cert film, “Stark Rav­ing Black,” opened in se­lect the­aters Oct. 8 to pos­i­tive re­views.

Tonight, Black takes the stage at the Or­pheum with some set pieces from the film, as well as brand-new ma­te­rial. Known for his salty rants on ev­ery­thing from pol­i­tics to so­ci­ety, Black said he self-pro­duced the film be­cause it was “im­por­tant to me to have a ver­sion com­plete be­fore they started bleep­ing it out” on Com­edy Cen­tral.

Some of Black’s fans may be dis­ap­pointed by this in­ter­view, as it has al­ready been bleeped out in the in­ter­est of sen­si­tive read­ers.

A lot of Com­edy Cen­tral view­ers keep up with your “Back in Black” po­lit­i­cal seg­ments on “The Daily Show with Jon Ste­wart.” Do you come up with your own ma­te­rial?

Ac­tu­ally, for the “Daily Show,” I didn’t come up with them for about six years. I was too busy on the road. The peo­ple who were writ­ing the show were fun­nier than I was, so es­sen­tially I stopped writ­ing them, and that’s the way it has panned out.

Do po­lit­i­cal is­sues ac­tu­ally get you fired up?

Much more than they used to. It’s not so much the po­lit­i­cal is­sues but the so­cial im­pli­ca­tions that fol­low those is­sues. It’s what th­ese (bleeps) do to peo­ple that gets me an­gry. It’s their in­abil­ity to come up with a health care plan. Nei­ther side can ex­plain it very well. And then once you start throw­ing in things like death pan­els, just mak­ing (bleep) up, then they’re mak­ing it more im­pos­si­ble for peo­ple to un­der­stand. Here they are try­ing to put the pub­lic op­tion back in and crit­ics are say­ing “You can’t have the gov­ern­ment com­pete against pri­vate busi­ness!” What? Of course you can! It’s the (bleep­ing) gov­ern­ment!

Has the tenor of po­lit­i­cal com­edy changed since Obama took of­fice? Are lib­eral comics afraid of at­tack­ing their man?

I think the “Daily Show” has come down on him. In one sense, (Obama) is some­one who speaks English clearly and at least pre­tends he’s in­ter­ested in our opin­ion. How­ever, what’s he got done? It’s busi­ness as usual in Wash­ing­ton. I’m way be­yond that. I think lib­er­als are (bleeps). They are a party that has done noth­ing.

So how would you de­scribe your­self, po­lit­i­cally?

I’m a so­cial­ist! There’s seven of us out there. It’s a word now used against Democrats be­cause lib­eral was not enough of a bash­ing stick. There are no so­cial­ists in Congress, ex­cept one guy from (bleep­ing) Ver­mont. I think ev­ery­body’s in­come should be capped and you take the ex­tra money and you put it into main­tain­ing ba­sic things like parks and roads and in­fra­struc­ture. We don’t tax peo­ple enough, and I’m a rich man.

What do you have against mak­ing lots of money?

There is still so much to be done. I go down and do ben­e­fit shows for my high school. I’m from a wealthy sub­urb! I think it’s crazy. I’ve done well, and share my money the way I see fit, but I would pre­fer if the gov­ern­ment were us­ing a por­tion of my in­come to fix things.

When did you de­cide that rage would be your comedic call­ing card?

About 20 years ago, a comic friend of mine said, “You know, you’re re­ally an­gry. You ought to go back out there and yell more.” And I did, and it worked. I found that the stuff that makes me an­gry was the fun­ni­est stuff. But as po­lit­i­cal as I might seem, I al­ways come from a very per­sonal per­spec­tive.

In the show, you talk a lot about your par­ents, who are both 91. What do they say about your act and your opin­ions?

My fa­ther timed how long I talked about them and told me that I owe them both resid­u­als for that amount of time. Ba­si­cally just them talk­ing gives me ma­te­rial. My mother still sends me things that will ir­ri­tate me. They’ll send things to me about Afghanistan or health care. It fu­els the fire.

Are they as an­gry as you?

No, they have more a sense of res­ig­na­tion. They’ve seen it all.

Do they worry about your own health? All that stress and anger can’t be good for you.

Ac­tu­ally, I’m prob­a­bly health­ier be­cause of it. It’s my sole form of ex­er­cise.

Jeff Neira

Lewis Black will un­leash his venom on the stage of the Or­pheum tonight at 8.

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