Paint it Fuck Black
Daily Show alum BRING’s his scathing comedy to Hult
by Rick Levin
I was scared shitless. When I got to my office, I taped a do not disturb sign to the door, closed it, turned the lock and, cradling the phone to my shoulder, punched in the number the publicist had given me. It rang several times before that familiar voice ã like Richard Nixon gargling nails ã answered. “Yeah?” I asked for Mr. Lewis Black. “Yeah, just a minute.” There was some clanging around, some muttering, distant noises of the road. “Yeah,” Black finally said. “Hello.”
Comedian Lewis Black is the Jesus Christ of humanitys insanity. Hes taken on a permanent migraine for our stupidity, and the thorn in his side ã a thorn from the weed that chokes common sense, blooming flowers of hypocrisy and political bullshit ã makes him really, really angry. Furious, in fact. That fury, which on stage drives Black to apoplectic fits of rage sprinkled with foul language and frightening acuity, is his true strength as a performer. Its hilarious to behold, and cathartic. It made him a hit on Jon Stewarts The Daily Show. Its won him two Grammys. And its made Black one of the best stand-up comedians around, a righteous social critic in the mold of Lenny Bruce, Richard Pryor and George Carlin.
“I was always kind of angry,” Black tells me. I ask him whats on tap for this tour, which hits Hult Center Thursday, April 7. “The usual, the same,” Black says, his voice rising. “The frustration, the disgust, the cynicism, the sarcasm. Well touch on the Democrats and the Republicans, terrorism, the app, the iPhone, the droid, talk about the economyÄ its a sidesplitting conversation.”
Black finds his stand-up material from several sources, including Fox News, various editorials, political magazines like The Week, as well as clippings sent to him by his mother. “It just kind of works like coffee,” he says of exposing himself to various media and political pundits. “And it helps me figure out the joke because of their logic, and what it is they think. If you find the fault in their logic, a lot of the times thats where the joke is. They forget things like people are involved,” Black says of unhinged politicians like Minnesota Rep. and Tea Party darling Michele Bachmann, who has praised Americas founding fathers for eliminating slavery and questioned President Barrack Obamas land of birth.
“Whats amazing is they dont even care that theyre on tape,” Black says about such modern politicos. “These sons of bitches dont give a shit, theyll say one thing one day and another the next. They are completely disconnected from a functioning reality system. Both sides of the aisle have no shame any more, no humility.”
Recently, Black was asked by Lenny Bruces daughter Kitty to write a new forward for a reissue of Bruces 1967 book, How to Talk Dirty and Influence People. The choice is apt. One of the most sidesplitting aspects of Blacks routine is his odd conjugation of a certain curse word (as in his rant about “moo cow fuck milk”). “It was the word that was given to us as adults to express anger, frustration and rage,” Black explains. “Theres nothing better than busting a word open with •fuck.”
Black says that some Americans outrage over that word is a vestige of this countrys “conservative Puritanism thats just never been let go of,” and he asks whats worse for kids ã a few well placed four-letter words or standard prime-time fare, where “theyve got tits flying on television and peoples heads getting sawed off!”
And this is the way Black rests his case ã voice raised to the crescendo of his own reasoning.
Lewis Black plays Hult Center 8pm Thursday, April 7; tickets at www.hultcenter.org; Black also hosts the “Lewis Black Comedy Cruise” Nov. 6-13, info at www.lewisblack.com