"In my act, for a long time, I used to say that Copenhagen was considered the nicest place in the world to live and its a Socialist country,” comedian Lewis Black says. "It gets a certain kind of backlash with Facebook crap and stuff, I mean nothing major, but just enough for me to go, Really, people? Does my kind of being socialist really upset your day?"
Black has become — through a tenacious and blood-pressure-rising career — an out-of-breath, angry projector of logical sanity. As a comedian, there's a bit of shtick to his anger, but with the growing dumbing of America, it has become more than just jokes. His bit has given credibility to the reality of the troubled times in which we live. This Friday, Miami audiences can hear him spew all sorts of commentary when his Emperor's New Clothes: The Naked Truth Tour stops in town.
"How do you satirize what is already satirical?" he says of the current presidential campaign season. "They're doing it on their own. It reads better if it were fiction. Until what happened in Belgium, you'd think then this would run its course even if [Donald Trump] won the Republican nomination.
"But with Belgium, basically, we have a tendency to respond to insanity with insanity, which is insane. We just have a tendency to go crazy.”
He says of Obama’s recent trip to Cuba: "The more baseball games we can play against Cuba, the more this will pass into the night. My feeling always was, from the very beginning, that Castro is Castro. But in his heart of hearts, I think that all he ever wanted was a baseball team."
The man is a modern jester. His ability to entertain is rivaled by few. His turning 68 later this year begs the question why he hasn't become a bigger name in the game. He is a proven standup comic with a solid voice-acting career under his belt. Black has had a number of critically acclaimed TV specials and albums, as well as numerous appearances on shows and movies. However, a breakout hit of his own has eluded him.
"I don't know how you find an audience for this stuff," he quips. "I got tired of being rejected. I mean, we were doing two shows a year, sending out two pilot-type projects a year, and we'd get to a certain point and it never came to be."
Set to appear in two episodes of Woody Allen’s upcoming unnamed TV program for Amazon Studios, Black is looking forward to his part. He admits it's not a big role, but it will give him the chance to work with many New York actors he has known for years. Plus, he's a newfound fan of the digital streaming platform, especially after binge-watching tons of shows online after dental surgery.
In his new tour, the Naked Truth, Black won't mince his words on the threats he perceives are destroying America. No topic — from your congressman and people on your local board of education to Bernie Sanders and the misappropriation of socialism — is off-limits.
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Although his trademark anger and finger-wagging have gone down a few notches, his audience will still get the full Black treatment. It will be a necessary jolt of energy one needs to travel through the next months of American politics.
"I feel energetic, but I did tone [my act] back. I had to find other ways to express frustration and anger. I did it for a whole year for a TV special, and when it came out, people were like, 'Oh, he's tired now.' And I was like, 'Fuck you! Fuck you, you idiots! There are other ways to express anger.'”