Black remains all the rage
> Comedian in full unbleeped form in film, at Orpheum
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.
Lewis Black will unleash his venom on the stage of the Orpheum tonight at 8.