Stand-up comedian, social commentator and theater artist Lewis Black may seem like a man in the middle of a wild rant, speaking in tongues, sputtering off the rails and bouncing off the ceiling. But in reality, that couldn’t be farther from the truth.
Black, whose work has been the best part of several years of Comedy Central’s satirical news program with his ‘Back to Black’ segments, is algebraic in his writing and planning of each bit. What seems like a bumpy, improvisational ride is thought out and handsomely arranged for maximum impact. And of course, laughs.
If you wish to test my theory, check out Black performing his mad monologue’s live at the Merriam Theater on the Kimmel Cultural Campus on March 26 — just weeks away from Lewis’s comedy album, ‘Thanks for Risking Your Life’, being nominated for this year’s Grammy for Best Comedy Album.
Metro sat down with Black to learn more.
Amorosi: One fascinating thing you did recently was this truly poignant and warmly humorous virtual event with Young Global Citizens.
Black: Young Global Citizens advocate talking to kids like they’re adults. I’ve always believed in that. The opportunity to have kids ask me questions was great. I like talking to kids. I did do ‘Inside/Out’ (laughs). And before I took off into the world of theater and stand-up, I spent a number of years teaching and working with kids in terms of theater. Plus, you have to realize: I don’t have kids, so I like to f&#k up other people’s kids.
Amorosi: Last week, you did your first ‘Daily Show Back in Black’ segment in a minute. Of course, you have been working there with Trevor Noah – he’s certainly made his mark and forged his own personae – but you’re usually associated with the rapport you shared with Jon Stewart as the ‘Daily Show’ host. What is the vibe now?
Black: Trevor wanted to keep me on, so that’s great (laughs). Trevor follows my work, enjoys it, and knows my voice really well. Sometimes we riff after the camera is off, and his social media team puts that up. We have a great relationship, and I think I have more freedom with Trevor than I did Jon. Jon was great, but he made the show about what he wanted it to be about. Not that Trevor doesn’t do that, but Jon…
Amorosi: …. Jon was more like a traditional network news anchor who also acts as its editor. He was more of a curator.
Black: Jon was a micro-manager. And that was good news. He made ‘The Daily Show’ into a powerful voice.
Amorosi: Are you still enjoying what you do on stage what with having to deal with audiences from social media who may have no idea who you really are?
Black: People will research what movie they’re going to see, but they won’t do that with a comedian. In the beginning of the show, I tell them that they’re probably going to be appalled. That’s not on me. That’s on you for not doing your homework.
Amorosi: The concept of getting cancelled for being appalling is interesting when you consider that if you are not beholden to corporate sponsorship or media conglomerates, you can say whatever you wish. You have no one to answer to, save for yourself.
Black: You can get clocked for whatever, though it is easier to get clocked if you’re doing commercials and big movies, say what happened to Gilbert Gottfried and Aflack.
Amorosi: Though you are not a knee-jerk reactionary, you have made comedy during more than a few national and international tragedies. How are you navigating the Ukraine and Russia siege?
Black: I’m not. I don’t. I have no jokes. If someone has a joke, great. It takes me a long time to come up with something. I’m not someone who sees something and says something. Honestly, it takes me time to find context, to tell the right story. Context is everything.
‘Lewis Black: Off the Rails’ hits the stage at Merriam Theater, 250 S. Broad St., on Saturday, March 26, at 8 p.m. Information and tickets can be found online.
The post Comedian Lewis Black brings mad monologues to Merriam Theatre appeared first on Metro Philadelphia.