Comedian Lewis Black has made a living off of being extremely angry, irritated and voluble, to say the least. Considering his on-stage persona, it’s incredible how congenial of a man Black actually is.
From his work on “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” to his stand-up routines like The Rant is Due, Black has perfected his craft over the last few decades.
Black called from his New York City home to talk about current events including “Duck Dynasty,” airports and, of course, those idiots in Washington. Rather than waste time, ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Lewis Black…
How have you been? We haven’t spoken since your last performance at the Holland.
I’ve been just great. It just gets better all the time. We seem to be getting on track. The American people seem to know what they’re doing. The government certainly seems to be focused on what should be done in order to make a better country. Just really, I’ve never seen anything like it. It’s like watching a Greek play. I mean a really bad Greek play. The only thing that’s different is Greek plays had people of stature and we don’t have a stature.
Everyone’s been talking about Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty and his “colorful” comments in Vanity Fair. What is your take on that?
That was a real shock. That was a stunner to think he might actually have those beliefs. This is probably the kind of thing that gets people upset, but I thought what he said about blacks was worse. Having grown up at the tail end of Jim Crow, to say that they were dancing to the back of the bus and singing, what level of madness is that? The thing that’s appalling is even if you think this shit, keep it to yourself. I can’t go through this all the time. None of us should be going through this all the time. You can have private discussions in your home, but don’t have somebody film it. Really. It’s just unbelievable. Then people are saying, ‘oh you’re taking away his free speech.’ I wouldn’t have expected that. People watch it and know what they’re thinking, but you’re not watching it to watch what they’re thinking. You’re watching the goofy hijinx of a whacky family that’s made a gazillion dollars. That’s what you’re watching. It’s the equivalent of a 1950s black and white sitcom. You’re watching Green Acres. What’s the difference? They’re actors. It’s ridiculous. I get upset because in the end reality T.V. has basically made it impossible for me to get on television. I practice my craziness. I mean, geez, why did I go to drama school? That was stupid. I could have cultivated my personality.
I don’t think your personality needs any more cultivating. [Laughs] I just signed up for Obamacare and the website didn’t give me any problems. Did you have to sign up?
I didn’t sign up. Here’s a bad word. I’m in a union. Oh boy, that is really awful. So I have shitty coverage from my union. I stuck with what they gave me. They’re working it out. We just combined it. It took forever. What I thought was spectacular about the whole thing was that the Republicans were so sure that the Democrats were holding a gun to their heads. Once again, I’m not watching adults, I’m watching kids in a sandbox. They’re holding a gun to their own heads. Then at the last second, the Republicans grab the gun and shoot themselves. Then the Democrats in Washington go back to what they were doing and that’s getting ready to shoot themselves. How do you not- I mean seriously- if that’s your number one priority. I mean, you can’t get a job for people, you can’t do this, you can’t do that, and everything else you’ve been cockblocked on. What would stop you from making a good website other than your own ineptitude?
That was a crazy train wreck.
Yes it was. It was really uncalled for. Once again, we couldn’t do it because we’ve been spending the last 12-15 years floundering about. It all goes back to education, which everybody thinks they’re going to figure out. It’s not that difficult. You teach people shit. That’s it. Simple. And they go, ‘oh it’s the union’s fault.’ No. It’s also parents coming into the thing, you’re basically handing out speed to some kids. I mean, it’s ludicrous.
Speaking of kids, what do you think about kids’ dependency on technology these days?
I would be depending on that. You can’t really fault them. Really. I used to have a dependency on RC Cola. It’s whatever’s around. It’s their world. That’s the thing. I mean, it’s strange. You stand by and watch it, and I realized the other day, no matter what happens I’m not prepped for it. It’s a tsunami this stuff.
Do you have an iPad, iPhone—any iStuff?
No, I don’t have ‘i.’ I switch it all around because I hate all of them equally.
I’m noticing I have a bit of an iPhone dependency. It distracts from real life.
I find that I’ve started to put it in my pocket more and more because, you know, when all of a sudden did I think I was going to get an important message?
Exactly. Or why do I feel I have to check my email every five minutes? There’s absolutely no reason.
Well, the only reason I do it is because stuff comes through like you gotta do this, you gotta do that, or what time do you want to talk on the phone, but otherwise I try not to. I was thinking yesterday, since I’ve been locked up because of this cold smack, and I was thinking I really could be just as happy. I think when I retire, I think I’m out of it. I think I’m going to sit around and read books. The other thing is we’re in the midst of a massive transition, massive.
They are stuck in the past.
A lot of them are stuck in the way past. And a lot of them are my age. It’s really appalling because they aren’t even making the attempt. And John McCain has a Twitter account. Please. Don’t. Just don’t. Don’t. There’s no need.
My parents were watching a football game the other night and there was a Twitter feed at the bottom and three different shots on the right side of various things. The game was so small, it was hard to watch because of all of the distractions.
I didn’t get any of that. I was lucky. It wasn’t there thank god. They have this thing on ESPN and it’s a Twitter feed. That’s the other thing, what’s wrong with news? You want to know what’s wrong with news? I don’t need to know what Johnson Fredericks or whomever has to say about whatever the news of the day is. It’s not relevant. If you get some sense of empowerment from that, they might as well put you in a straight jacket and shove you in the back of a lunatic asylum.
I have Twitter, but I don’t use it that often.
Well I have it, but it’s advertising. Then they yell at me for the advertising. It’s like duh. That’s what it’s built on and that’s how it’s going to make money. What is the matter with you people?
Lewis Black, January 20-22, at Funny Bone Comedy Club, 17305 Davenport St., Suite 201, 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $40. Visit www.funnybonecentral.com for more information