If comedian Lewis Black isn’t ranting and raving about something, chances are he’s asleep.
Like many of us, Black is frustrated and sometimes dismayed by current events and politics.
While Black is disappointed, he says he isn’t disillusioned.
“A lot of what’s going on is like watching the end of the dinosaurs,” Black said. “They don’t pay attention. They have tiny brains and tiny ears. They don’t get it. They look at something right in front of them and they just ignore it. It’s like these leaders’ knowledge stopped literally in 1958, and their thinking hasn’t gone beyond that. But as we know, all the dinosaurs died off.”
Black, perhaps best known for his frequent “Back in Black” commentary segments on “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart,” brings his “The Emperor’s New Clothes” Naked Truth Tour to the Grand Theatre on Dec. 3.
“The great thing about this is I couldn’t get a TV show, I don’t know why, but as a result I got lucky and my tour manager found all this equipment and now I do a show every night after my show so hopefully it (the podcast) becomes a show,” Black said. “I never know what I’m going to talk about since it’s based on audience questions. But it’s usually about my health, or what I’ve figured out lately or it could be anything. It’s become a lot of fun.”
Black said the personal connection he’s able to make while doing stand-up gives him hope about humans’ ability to promote positive change.
“I believe the basic instincts of most people are the same,” he said. “Ask people to name five things they want for themselves and their children and they’ll list the same things. And you see it when horrible (stuff) occurs in this country like tornadoes, earthquakes and hurricanes.
“The next day you’ll see a ton of Americans — nobody calls them, the government certainly isn’t involved — get into their cars and trucks and drive to where the place is and start helping.”
It’s all good
The reaction Black said he gets from his audiences, even from those who don’t necessarily agree with his Socialistic-leaning values, reinforces his belief that most people are inherently good.
Perhaps it’s his ability to voice the frustrations that most people feel, but are unable to express, which makes him one of the more popular stand-up comics today. Black performs about 200 shows yearly.
“I feel something is going right,” Black said of doing stand-up. “I’m standing there trying to figure out the same (stuff) they’re trying to figure out. Even if we don’t see eye-to-eye, we all pretty much want the same things.”
For these reasons, plus the podcast, Black’s show is different from night to night, he said.
“It’s never the same, but I work hard to hold on to them (the audience) because I think people deserve something well-crafted and thoughtful. It’s like I’m trying to figure (stuff) out on stage. A lot of what I’m doing is writing (new material) in front of people. I can’t believe they allow me to do it but they do.”
When Black isn’t doing stand-up, he’s usually working on a project or relaxing at his homes in New York and North Carolina.
His past projects include hosting the Comedy Central series “Lewis Black’s Root of All Evil.” He’s written three books, “Nothing’s Sacred,” “Me of Little Faith” and “I’m Dreaming of a Black Christmas.”
Black also is a two-time Grammy Award-winner for best comedy album for “The Carnegie Hall Performances” in 2007 and “Stark Raving Black” in 2011.
He’s appeared in several movies, including role in the Pixar animation movie “Inside Out.” The movie, starring Diane Lane, Amy Poehler and Kyle MacLachlan, is told from the perspective of the emotions inside the mind of a little girl. Black played the character named Anger.
Optimism for the future
Despite Black’s on- and off-stage angst at what he sees happening to the world, he believes things will get better.
But when will this change happen?
It takes time,” he said. “It takes about the same amount of time for dinosaurs to turn into oil as it does for us to arrive at the next revelation. I mean, we just realized we forgot about the middle class. They just figured that out. So now, we’re apparently going to help them.”
Despite some of his misgivings about government, Black said he feels it’s important to vote.
“People die so people like you can go into a voting booth, look at the leaders and say, ‘Jesus Christ. Where’s the leader that says kill me now?’”
“Do what you can in your community,” he said. “And then hopefully it trickles up because it sure ain’t trickling down.”