Lewis Black Stands Ready For Stand Up

By: Tom Leyde / TheCalifornian.com

Stand-up comedian Lewis Black is angry and frustrated and when he's on stage, nobody expresses those emotions better than him.

Black is angry and frustrated about the U.S. government, high-tech devices, bottled water, hypocritical politicians, and whatever else you've got.

Through his act, he gives a voice to other angry and frustrated people whose voices aren't as loud or prominent. The result is hearty laughter and a sense of relieve that maybe, just maybe, somebody will listen.

Black is bringing his new show, "The Rant is Due Part Deux," to Monterey's Golden State Theater Feb. 5. Tickets for the 8 p.m. show range from $42 to $86. They are available at www.goldenstatetheatre.com or by calling 831-649-1070.

The show will be streamed live worldwide on the Internet and Black will take questions from the audience and from those viewing it online.

"It's insane," he said in a telephone interview from Los Angeles. "If I have three people in Pakistan watching, that's a start."

Black's evolution to popular stand-up comic started in the theater in college, at the University of North Carolina and Yale Drama School.

"I just kind of stumbled on to it," he said. "I think I'm the voice of frustration. A lot of people don't agree with me and come to the show just to see the frustration. Most of us have a streak of common sense and it makes no sense that common sense doesn't win out."

What is Black frustrated and angry about these days?

"The fact that the same group of people were elected," he said. "They just jerked us around for two years. I find that astounding." He said people who pontificate for democracy these days "do everything they can to make it impossible."

Black, who makes his homes in New York and Chapel Hill, North Carolina, said he doesn't think America is a nation of sheep, blindly following it's leaders. "I think we're a nation that's been worn out by two wars and a nation that's been worn out by its leadership."

Also perplexing to the comedian is leaders who say poor people are taking advantage of the rest of the population. "They're the least of your problems," he said. "Generally, a good chunk of our leadership, they so firmly believe that these people who don't have anything, it's their fault. I don't know how we got to that point."

On technology, Black said, "It's just like we dumped it on ourselves. We did it. I equate what we've been through, it's like, OK, we're all going to take acid and nobody was prepped for it and knew what it meant. Now we're going at the speed of light and we've got leadership that's moving like tortoises. And most of the leadership is living in the past."

To that leadership, he commented, "You didn't even learn to get up and talk in front of people and now you're telling me you know how to tweet!"

Black's talents aren't limited to stand-up. He is an author, a playwright and has appeared on stage on TV and in movies. But he said stand-up remains his favorite.

"I like stand-up the most because the audience dictates where I end up going, in part," he said. "It's just me and them ... nobody can come in when I'm doing an act and say, ‘You can make this funnier.' ... This is just me and them and I can go from town to town as long as people keep coming out. It's vaudeville."

Asked whether comedians are more intelligent than most people, Black said some of them are. Others, he said, are very much like a dog. "Like a dog, they hear different frequencies."

Black performs about 200 shows a year. His accolades include a Grammy for best comedy album for The Carnegie Hall Performances (2007) and another in 2011 for his album "Stark Raving Black."

He did two HBO specials, "Black On Broadway" and "Red, White and Screwed," the latter of which was nominated for an Emmy in 2007. For two seasons he had a regular feature on "Inside the NFL" and in 2006, was asked to participate in Comic Relief.

He did a feature film-length concert, "Stark Raving Black," in 2009. His three books were best-sellers. They're titled, "Nothing's Sacred," "Me of Little Faith" and "I'm Dreaming of a Black Christmas."

Black's movie roles include characters in "Man of the Year," "Accepted" and "Unaccompanied Minors." He even appeared in an episode of "The Big Bang," as an entomologist named Professor Crawley.

Asked if he has any regrets in a life that has been so successful, Black said, "Just that I ... wasn't able to get a TV show on the air. I got one on Comedy Central but they put us on in the summer ... and they killed it. I would liked to have done one since then, and I would liked to have done more films, but that's out of my control."

With a schedule as packed as his is, Black said he is finding less and less time to write. "The schedule still keeps getting more hectic ... and I don't understand it," he said.

His advice for Americans is: "Be sure you take a nap," he said. "It's a long day. Take a nap so you have energy for the evening, which is your time away from the insanity, and we don't take it all so seriously. ... If you think it's bad now, it's just going to get crazier."