Lewis Black has made a career out of ranting about the kind of stuff most people can't rant about at their jobs.
On Comedy Central's “The Daily Show,” where Black is a frequent guest, he rants about gun control (specifically, about various celebrities who have chimed in on the debate), about lies told on the campaign trail and about a certain pundit's propensity for comparing various groups to Nazis, among other topics.
“I'm amazed that I'm allowed to do it,” said Black, who also is an actor, playwright, author and stand-up comedian.
It's something his fans appreciate, too.
“They all say, 'Thank God you get to do this, because I don't.'”
Black will bring his outraged political brand of comedy to the Holland Center on April 11. Fans can expect to hear his thoughts on a variety of current issues, including the inability of politicians to work together and the nation's short attention span.
“We're going to talk about guns, well, we're not. We're going to talk about immigration, well, we're not. We're going to talk about the economy, well, we're not,” he said in a phone interview. “We can't stay on point for anything.”
This has led Black to form a theory that pretty much all Americans are suffering from attention deficit disorder.
“It's not just a kids' disease anymore,” he said. “Anyone who has a smartphone has it. As soon as you put part of your brain into a phone, the ball game was over.”
Black has been honing his act for more than 20 years, though he took a meandering route. In college, he aspired to be a playwright, and for two decades after, that is what he did. He became the playwright-in-residence at the West Bank Café's Downstairs Theatre Bar in New York City, and emceed some of the shows. From there, he ventured into stand-up, which, as it turned out, was easier for him than writing plays.
“A reasonably good stand-up in New York City can get up every night of the week and perform,” Black said. “A good playwright, if they're lucky, can get three or four productions a year.”
When “The Daily Show” launched in 1996, he began contributing a weekly rant about something in the news — often a political topic, but sometimes not. One of his favorite early segments was about pig races in Oregon.
That was back in the day before YouTube, before weird news stories made the rounds on assorted blogs and social media outlets.
“I got to show stuff on TV that no one was seeing otherwise,” he said.
Since his beginnings on “The Daily Show,” he's acted in several movies, including “Man of the Year” and “Accepted,” and he'll voice a character in a coming Pixar film. He's also written several books and toured almost constantly. He remains connected to the theater world, and a play he wrote more than 30 years ago, “One Slight Hitch,” was produced in 2011 and again in 2012. He still appears on “The Daily Show,” though much less frequently than he used to.
Through decades of ranting, his own politics have evolved, he said. But he also believes that when it comes to entertaining an audience, his own beliefs are beside the point. Instead of poking fun at the political parties, he pokes fun at the political process.
“I don't push for an agenda on stage,” he said. “I just push for people to realize that they're not insane, the people who lead them are.”
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