Edit ModuleShow Tags

Back in Black

Laughs


Published:

WHEN LEWIS BLACK was a young, struggling stand-up comedian, his material was just as topical and opinion-filled as it is now, but he checked his rage at the stage door. When a friend suggested he integrate his natural vitriol into his act, he took the advice. Black has been beating audiences into hysterical submission ever since with furiously funny rants on the news of the day and the absurdities and hypocrisies of life.

Wickedly subversive but also personable and even vulnerable, Black gives performances reminiscent of Howard Beale, the cynical, deranged newsman (played by Peter Finch) in the film Network, a dark, prophetic satire on American TV news. Black isn’t insane like the fictional Beale, but he is undeniably mad as hell, and he’s not going to take it anymore.

“When I first put the anger that I’ve always had into the act, I bellowed from beginning to end. You can’t do that for 50 minutes,” says Black, a 58-year old Maryland native. “Now, I’m almost expected to come out and just do the angry thing for an hour. When I was on Larry King recently, I heard the guys talking in Larry’s ear——they were telling him to rile me up. If I lived as angry as I act onstage, I’d be dead. But the anger is real. It’s me.”

Black, whose act is in the time-tested tradition of such other angry American comics as Lenny Bruce, Mort Sahl, Alan King, Richard Pryor, George Carlin, Sam Kinison and Bill Hicks, knows this is an inherently risky technique. Raw anger can be off-putting. But Black’s rancor is disarmed by his likeability and the reassuring smile he flashes mid-rant that tells the audience he’s in on the joke and that he’s not stark raving mad——just mad.

“I don’t know what it is, exactly, but people have really responded to what I’m doing,” says Black, who is also an author, playwright and actor who graduated from the Yale School of Drama. “I have families coming to my shows now, people in their 50s, along with 16-year-olds. I guess I’m the weirdest and most unlikely family comic around.”

Black first tapped into the national consciousness in the 1990s with his regular appearances on Comedy Central’s The Daily Show. As that show’s resident “mad” man, he delivered venomous five-minute behind-the-desk commentaries that touched a nerve and catapulted him onto the comedy A-list with HBO specials, CDs and his first book, Nothing’s Sacred, in 2005.

Black’s cathartic routine plays well even in sunny San Diego. “I don’t change my act based on where I’m playing. I slow it down in the South a bit,” he says with a laugh, “but otherwise I don’t tailor my material, not even in San Diego. I actually have a very big military following. The guys in the platoon, they get it. But of course the leadership doesn’t.”

Relentlessly critical of the Bush administration, Black has been equally tough on Democrats, and doesn’t see any presidential candidates on either side that he likes. And he’s about to tackle yet another controversial subject.

“I’m currently working on my second book. It’s on religion,” he says. “In a nutshell, my take is that religion is wonderful if it makes you happy——now just shut up. Stop trying to convert. If it works for you, fine; why do you need me? Yes, this book should pretty much end my career.”

Black appears September 16 at Copley Symphony Hall. For tickets, call 619-220-TIXS.

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

More »Related Stories

Event Photos: Best Restaurants Party 2017

Photos from the event at Pirch UTC on June 14, 2017

Vinyasa with a View

Manchester Grand Hyatt and CorePower team up for a Yoga By the Pool series

Lionfish Brings a Dash of Las Vegas Glitz to the Gaslamp

Dining at the Pendry's signature restaurant is like dining in a bottle of good scotch
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Most Popular

  1. Jason Mraz Is Growing Coffee on a Farm in Oceanside
    We spoke to the musician about all the whys — why food, why farming, why Oceanside, why coffee?
  2. San Diego's Best Restaurants 2017
    The top tacos, chicken wings, seafood, burgers, kid-friendly eateries, breweries, and more
  3. 10 Scenic Hikes Within an Hour of San Diego
    You’ve mastered all the trails in your area—now plan a Saturday to get outside for a hike and enjoy the views just a bit farther afield
  4. The Man Behind San Diego's $26 Billion Company
    Will Illumina's new hotshot CEO be able to lead the San Diego genomics giant into the complex world of clinical care?
  5. Celebrating Women: Shanna Missett Nelson
    Like a good dancer, the Jazzercise president has mastered her balance—of career, family, and life
  6. San Diego's Best Boutique Fitness 2017
    We've sweated through the top yoga, barre, Pilates, and boot camp classes, and are rounding up our favorites
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Promotions

Go Ahead... Ask McMillin!

At McMillin Realty, we are encouraging you to bring us your real estate questions. We will answer these questions….. for free.

Not Your Grandma's Orthotics

New year, new – shoe? Staying on your feet for long hours at a time just got a whole lot more comfortable with Wiivv’s BASE custom insoles
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module
Edit Module

Connect With Us:

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Sponsored

9 Reasons You Need a Better Barber

Get the look and service you deserve at this East Village salon

Enter a Drawing You Could Actually Win

There are more than 1,700 prizes in the Dream House Raffle
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags