Saturday, January 24, 2009
The Fillmore Miami Beach at the Jackie Gleason Theater
Better Than: Crying about things.
The Bush Administration may be gone, but don't think for a second that they've taken away all of Lewis Black's targets. "People think stupidity left the country," cracks Black. Well, it didn't.
Cases in point: an incoming Treasury Secretary "who didn't pay his taxes;" a former Merrill Lynch head so "out of touch" he laid out "$1.2 million in company money refurbishing his office, including $68,000 on a fucking credenza" just as said company was tanking, and a party of donkeys that just "spent eight years doing absolutely nothing" as the country was pillaged by elephants, and having a Black man in the highest office isn't gonna change that fact.
In other words: Now, it's the economy, stupid. And the economy sucks!
Black, who struck celebrity status back in '96 after The Daily Show started giving him a regular three minutes to rant and rave, clearly is at his best when he's pissed about the malfeasance practiced by those in positions of power. And the facts that Treasury Secretary designate Timothy Geithner ran the New York's Federal Reserve while Wall Street burned, former Merrill Lynch CEO John Thain doled out billions in bonuses before Bank of America were forced to swoop in to save the company, and that the Obamas have reportedly hired the very same interior designer, er, credited with pimping-out Thain's former office, surely serve to stoke his anger, whether or not he spells it out.
Unfortunately (and ironically), live Black seems to lack the intimacy of his televised appearances, that intense focus where he stares into the camera, bores directly into the viewer's psyche and sums up a pivotal and pummeling position. On stage, instead of serving bite-sized bits of flame-broiled badness, he stretches into a smorgasbord, and bemoans the fact that there won't be "a Jew in the White House in [his] lifetime," that the South Beach hotel he's staying in is "so hip it gives you a headache," and that "60 is not the new 40; it's 60, you morons!" All of which might be true. The thing is though; none of it is particularly funny.
Certainly not funny enough to start his set anyway, especially after the sold-out crowd had to endure almost an hour of some ukulele-wielding wannabe's feeble attempts at comedy. So, sad to say, it was a bit of a disappointment that Black saved his best laughs for last.
Listen, I dig Black. Always have; probably always will. He's caustic and keen and just the type of cat the country needs if it's ever to truly be held to account for its misdeeds. And while it's highly unlikely that the Bush administration was entirely responsible for his rad humor, as Black so sarcastically suggested at the start of last night's Fillmore stand, the comedian surly lost a treasure trove of targets with their departure.
The problem is, do we hope for more dopiness so we can continue to enjoy Black's brand of rant? Or do we pray for a tomorrow where Black becomes superfluous? I've kinda got a feeling it won't matter one way or another, because Americans are very good at being bad, so it's gonna be damn good that we have a bad cat like Black around to smack 'em down.
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Personal Bias: I'm generally pretty angry myself, so I know just where Black's coming from.
Random Detail: One of the funniest moments came when some heckler yelled something and Black came back with: "You know what I thought you said? I'm from Delaware." You had to be there.
By the Way: Black won a Grammy for 2007's The Carnegie Hall Performance, so not everyone seems to agree with my perception of his live show.