Lewis Black never set out to become a stand-up comic. As he worked his way through Yale Drama School, he had other
ideas. “I thought I’d become a drama professor at some Southern girls’ school,” Black says. “Preferably one where they never saw a Jewish man before.” In retrospect, he’s glad the winding road has led him to where he is today: the 2001 recipient
of the American Comedy Award for Viewers’ Choice Male Stand-Up Comic. He says if he stuck to his original teaching plan,
he’d ”be dead or facing so many -charges I might as well be.”
According to his web site, www.lewisblacknet, Black’s most recent career incarnation is that of “foremost commentator on everything.” Black maintains a grueling performance schedule at comedy clubs and colleges throughout the country. He’s best known for his exasperated, head-shaking, fingerpointing persona seen each Wednesday on Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show.” It’s his platform to lambaste nearly every aspect of contemporary society, from Americans’ obsession with fitness to new airport security rules. Black is an observation comic whose main topic is “stupidity,” which, of course, opens the door to lots of political discussions. Hesaysmostofhis material comes from daily experiences – watching the news and reading whatever comes his way until something strikes him. “I figure if I’m thinking about it, other people are too, or should be,” Black says.
For Black, the congressional vote authorizing the use of force in Iraq was the most recent example of big-time stupidity. “I once interviewed John Mc-Cain, and he kind of blew me away,” Black says. “He said some really amazing and intelligent things about taxes. But after seeing how he voted on this thing, phbbtt- I’m going to have to change my mind again.” According to Black, the humor of these situations.lies in their seeming importance. “You know there’s going to be some jerk
running around saying, ‘This means the end of the world,'” Black says. “But tomorrow we’re all going to wake up, and very little will have changed.”
Black’s first career was that of playwright and actor, a background that gives him a unique perspective on stand-up comedy. Instead of coming up through comedy clubs, he worked hi$ way up in theaters. While running the West Bank Cafe Downstairs Theatre Bar in Manhattan, Black created some one-man comic pieces to perform hiniself, “mostly because there was no one else to do it.” Black’s plays, such as “Czar of Rock and Roll Alley” and “The Chaz and Eddie Cycle,” were being produced in various venues around the country. Despite this success, Black never published any of his plays – a move he regrets in
Still, his reputation as a comic performer kept building. Eventually, he was invited to perform at New York’s “Catch a Rising Star” with the likes of Denis Leary and Kevin Meaney. Initially,Black declined adamantly. But he conceded, and the experience taught him to blend his theater experience with a more traditional stand-upper perspective.
He says most of his past plays have been “dark comedies,” and that helped prepare him for creating comic material. His play “The Deal” recently was made into a 20-minute film by the Sundance Channel. “I was involved in picking the director and a
few of the actors,” says Black, who was pleased with the result. Despite his busy schedule, Black says, he is. collaborating with writer/television producer Jeff Stilson (“The Osbournes,” “The Chris Rock Show”) to develop a character-based sitcom.
“It’s going to be about a guy who works in the schools, like as a librarian, and has a :family,” Black says. As yet, the duo hasn’t shopped its idea around to any rietworks. “Those… idiots think they know what people want to see, but this is something I want to create to my satisfaction.” If he wasn’t traveling so much and performing in a different city nearly every night, he’d
be golfing and writing more plays. When things settle down a bit, he plans to return to the book he says he was working on “until I lost the first 20 pages on a plane and got too (ticked) off to continue.”
Black also can be seen in Comedy Central rebroadcasts of both of his half-hour comedy specials. He also has several comedy CDs available – “The End of the Universe,” “The White Album” and “Revolver.”More information on Lewis Black can be found at www.lewisblack.net or