Lewis Black on Bernie Sanders, Voting Rights and The Root of All Evil

Byron Graham / Westword.com

Lewis Black is a thoroughly astute political satirist. Assuaging righteous outrage with laughter is every comedian's noble goal, but Black rises above the majority of his peers (at least those without their own eponymous television programs) with his keen analysis of social ills. Star and co-creator ofComedy Central's dearly missed debate series The Root of All Evil, Black is never better than when he has a point to prove and a fire in his belly - so it's fitting that his most high-profile film role to date was as the unmistakable voice of Anger in Pixar's Inside Out. Black has settled into his role asthe elder statesman of The Daily Show, where his "Back in Black" segments have outlasted the tenures of former hosts Craig Kilborn and Jon Stewart and have been a highlight of the still-young Trevor Noah era; he's also published three best-selling books beloved by fellow atheists, includingNothing Sacred,Me of Little Faith and Black Christmas. But he hasn't given up standup, and he'll be back in Colorado this weekend on the Emperor's New Clothes tour, with a fiery new hour of jokes. In advance of those shows, we caught up with Black to discuss the fate of The Root of All Evil, the absurdity of the 2016 elections, and why he's supporting Bernie Sanders.

Westword: You've been closing your shows with a sort of multimedia Q&A session during the Emperor's New Clothes tour. What sort of questions do people ask you?
Lewis Black: Everything that I talk about in the act. Hillary - a bunch of it is political. What do I think of Hillary, what do I think of Ted Cruz, and then I yell about Donald Trump. Why is it so insane?

Is there a challenge in writing jokes about an election that's already so absurd?
It's not a challenge. It's not even a job anymore.

The jokes write themselves?
They don't even write themselves. It's all already written. You don't have to do anything; you can just repeat what they said. The classic example: I'm looking at CNN right now, and there's Sarah Palin with Donald Trump in the background. That's what I'm looking at; they're on the news.How am I supposed to make that funnier than when she opens her mouth? To prove my point, on SNL, they don't even have to write things for Tina Fey to say in character as Sarah Palin, she just repeats what Sarah Palin already said. That's it. Ballgame's over.

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