The Twisted Life of
Every great comic is able to exploit a fault. Lewis Black’s fault is anger; onstage he uses it to show people the twisted way he looks at life. He’s been on Oprah, Tough Crowd, and is a regular on the Daily Show. He is also a graduate of Yale Drama School, and has written many plays. Black is currently co-headlining a fifty-city tour with Dave Attel and Mitch Hedberg. In this exclusive interview, Lewis rants about everything including abortion, Yom Kippur and a crazy man on the subway.
Do you feel that you have an anger management problem?
No, maybe on stage, but not in life. I have a problem with stupidity and people in positions of authority.
So you’re not a big fan of the President?
No, I’m not a big fan of anyone who is president. A lot of the words that are coming out of his mouth don’t match what’s on his face.
What’s your worst memory of high school?
It was when I realized that there were two paths you could head down in high school: The nerd, or try to be cool and fit in. I remember one of my friends told me “You shouldn’t button your top button.” I was like “What?!” I had no idea. I was really surprised by that. Another time, I was at a dance, driving for the first time. I was backing out and there was another car behind me, and I tore the shit out of it.
What’s the craziest thing that’s happened to you in New York?
I was on a subway platform, and a guy who was obviously deranged was screaming stuff and yelling at people. I was walking away, but then I turned around and yelled “What the hell is the matter with you! Stop it! Stop it now!” He went from being completely nuts to being like “oh my God.” He acted normal for about ten seconds then went back to being crazy.
So you out crazy-ed the crazy person?
Yeah, I did. It was great.
What’s been your worst vacation?
Our parents took us to a spot in Maryland. It looked great on the brochure, had a beautiful pond to swim in. It was about a third filled with water, the pool was like a place to get dysentery. The best thing you could get there was malaria. We stayed at this place for about an hour and then got in the car and went somewhere else.
Name the one thing that you fear the most.
Losing my voice.
You have a lot of jokes about health; do you feel you’re paranoid?
I started doing more about health …I probably should be more paranoid. All my friends ask me “Are you going to the gym?” “Hell no I’m not going to the gym.”
Do you have any advice for students planning to attend Yale?
Don’t. Yale is an uptight institution. Harvard is uptight because it’s Harvard, and Yale is uptight because it’s worried about being better than.
Do you have a most hated holiday?
Because I’m Jewish I’m going to have to say Yom Kippur. You look back over all of your sins and God writes your name in the Book of Life or the Book of Death. That’s great when you’re five. I just find it hard to believe that God spends only one day on the project.
How long does it take you to go back over your sins?
It’s a long day. Back when I was younger, I had to make up stuff just to impress Him. Now it’s easy.
Do you have a favorite moment from being on the Daily Show?
The start of the show, when they just put me on the air. I was on the very first show. It was great.
Are you anti-social?
No, I’m not (Dave) Attel.
Were you an only child?
No, I had a brother, but he passed away.
Are you married?
What do you look for in a wife?
This is an old joke…about 4” Foot, flat headed. No, you look for someone who’s smart, witty, bright and challenging. You look for someone who’s not a cunt. Since this is a high school paper, you probably can’t print that. You have to look for someone you really enjoy spending time with. So this explains why I’m not married.
What is the dumbest thing about our culture?
The power of our collective egos. We all come from other countries, and we try to act like we’re from here. No other country in the world acts like this.
What’s the worst gig you’ve done?
I used to perform in a club that was a country-western bar before there was a real comedy club there. When they would heckle, they were really vicious. By the time we got on stage, at about nine, the crowd was totally wasted. They were a bunch of blue-collar workers, and the last thing they wanted to hear was comedy.
Are there comedy groupies?
Dave would know better than I would.
Dave, are there comedy groupies?
I like to think of them as what some call “the man-made cow”…Wet nurses.
What star do you lust after?
Dave: “Mitch Hedberg.”
I used to like Drew Barrymore, then I lost that attraction. I used to lust after Nicole Kidman, but she doesn’t really have that sex vibe. I used to lust after that young one…What’s her name? She’s twenty-three, been in a bunch of movies. She’s way too young. That’s the problem, I lust after people that are way too young.
You’d probably end up in jail.
No, not that young.
You’re not R. Kelly?
No, I’m really not R. Kelly.
Have you ever had a nervous breakdown?
What are you going to be like when you’re old?
I think I’m going to be a grumpy old man. I’m mean how long can you listen to the same crap again. I mean look, abortion, either you’re for or against abortion. How many times in my lifetime have we talked about it? It doesn’t stop. We have to go through this every couple of years. First, it was Viet Nam, and now we’re going through the same stuff. Every one of my friends who was born in my generation says, “It’s the same thing, it’s the same thing!” It’s the hardest part to deal with. That’s why growing old is a pain in the ass.
What’s the most insane thing that’s happened on this tour with Dave Attel?
Nothing crazy yet, because we’ve only had three dates. I lost my wallet.
Yeah, it was wild.
What do you enjoy the most about being on the road?
Being in new cities and meeting people.
What do you want your funeral to be like?
I’d want people to have one big party. Have a lot of fun and realize that I’m not that far away. Appearances notwithstanding.
Do you have a favorite joke?
I don’t, because I really have a hard time remembering jokes.
If you were forced onto Celebrity Boxing, whom would you want to fight?
That American Idol judge, Simon Cowell. He basically undermines all that is good about American culture. Let’s turn it all into a fucking contest. I’m still trying to think of that woman that I’m attracted to. This just shows that I don’t care about the people, I just look at the picture.
Lewis Black’s latest CD is “Rules of Enragement” out now on Comedy Central Records. He has also just released his first DVD, “Lewis Black: Unleashed.”