Lewis Black may often have a pissed-off persona on stage, but ultimately, the 70-year-old comic has one message he wants to share with audiences.
“What I believe in is we’ve gotta take care of each other, and everything else is bullshit,” Black says.
Known for many roles including his longstanding segment on The Daily Show, Black will perform a standup set at the Murat Theatre on Friday, Oct. 5. Before the show, we talked with him about his love for Kurt Vonnegut, disgust for Mike Pence, and his overriding optimism for America.
NUVO: You started out in playwriting at a young age. How did that eventually lead you into the world of comedy?
LEWIS BLACK: Playwriting didn’t really lead to comedy. I was interested in standup. I was watching a lot of it, and I was fascinated by what the hell was going on there. So I started to do it on the side as an insane hobby. It was a way in which I could get writing out there. That was really how the two connected. Eventually, what it taught me was how to tell a story.
NUVO: Being that you’re also a writer, what are your thoughts on Kurt Vonnegut
BLACK: I’m actually an honorary member of the [Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library] board. I’ve done some fundraising for them there. I did one of their events. As soon as I heard about it, I got involved with it. I think he’s important, and I think it’s important that they put together this center in honor of him. It’s extraordinary.
NUVO: You acted in Man of the Year alongside Robin Williams. What did you like about working with him?
BLACK: What I liked about working with him was the energy he brought to a production, which was stunning. Because it was a comedy, he made it fun. It was fun to hang out with him. He was great. And he wasn’t always on, as many people think.
NUVO: You’ve had a segment on The Daily Show since 1996. What about the show has kept you with it for so long?
BLACK: It’s a job. [laughs] It’s also a great way for me to be seen. It’s like an advertisement. Here I am, this is what I do, and I’m going to be performing in your area shortly. It’s also fun, and they keep asking me back.
NUVO: You’ve been described as a pissed-off optimist.That being said, what are you optimistic about right now when it comes to the current state of America?
BLACK: I have a certain amount of faith in the American people. What’s going on here is not the majority. [There’s this] “we’ve gotta go back to the way it was” crap. I lived through the way it was, and it worked that way because most people were for it being the way it was. That’s not the case anymore. What you’re hearing is the sounds of dinosaurs dying. “We’re going to have coal.” Really? What planet are you on? You might have an argument about climate change. But should you be able to have a runoff of crap into the water that’s poison? No! It literally is upside down. Everything is upside down
NUVO: Being that this is a preview of your upcoming show in Indianapolis, I’m curious to hear your thoughts on Indiana’s own Mike Pence.
BLACK: I think he’s got really nice hair. I think that’s what he’s got to offer. Otherwise, he’s standing next to a nine-year-old and doesn’t act like an adult. Somebody has gotta act like an adult there. He means so much to you?
I’ve spent my whole life with this bullshit. Like, “just because he’s the president…” Fuck you. I’ve never felt that about any of them. I don’t care if it’s him [Donald Trump] or any of the others I’ve dealt with. Just because you have that position doesn’t mean I have to honor you. I honor the position. Then, you have to live up to the position.