Feel that throb in your temple? Smell tooth dust as you grind 'em down? You’re not alone. In fact, there’s a comedian whose body of work embodies exactly this sort of furious resistance of the status quo.
The Lewis Black Interview: Talking (Hysterical) Naked Truth
BY M. BRIANNA STALLINGS
Consider our nation at the present moment. Mass public shootings are shrugged off as commonplace atrocities, an unavoidable consequence of “freedom.” The entire water supply of an American city is a fetid, undrinkable, rust-colored mess. An egocentric business mogul/former reality TV star wants to trade his garish New York penthouse for a comparatively humble white house at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
Feel that throb in your temple? Smell tooth dust as you grind ’em down? You’re not alone. In fact, there’s a comedian whose body of work embodies exactly this sort of furious resistance of the status quo. He’s transformed Carnegie Hall into a temple of tormented rage and goes stark raving mad — to the perverse delight of his audiences — every night on stage. He’s even been rendered as Anger, a fiery red block of feeling in Disney/Pixar’s recent hit “Inside Out.” Fingers wagging, blood boiling — he’s the self-proclaimed “Old Yeller” aka funny man Lewis Black.
His brand-new “Naked Truth” Tour rolls into Route 66 Casino’s Legends Theater (I-40, Exit 140) on Friday, Feb. 5, at 8 p.m. Tickets for this 18-plus show range from $30 to $65 at holdmyticket.com. ABQ Free Press chatted with Black by phone about his current tour, paying the rant forward, big-time swindlers and animated anti-federalists.
ABQ Free Press: What can we expect from “The Naked Truth” Tour?
Lewis Black: The same kind of fun-filled Christian comedy that I always do. [Laughs] It’s gonna be happy and upbeat. People go out whistling some of the tunes I create in their heads.
So you’ll be playing a room in Branson soon?
That’s what I’m moving towards. I also do a healing; that’s always been a crowd-pleaser. [Laughs] What they can expect is what I always kinda do, which is to just look at the world around me and go insane.
Tell me about your online exclusive video content “The Rant is Due.” You take questions via social media from fans at your live shows, then answer them during the show? Who came up with this idea?
It was in part mine, because I wanted to do a Q&A with the audience, but that’s really hard. In the best of all possible worlds, people in the audience would just ask me questions. Then my tour manager Ben Brewer started doing research. He tracked it all out. So we ended up with a few cameras, and a friend of ours who’s worked on two of my specials and travels with us is the engineer.
Will there be a “Rant Is Due” in ABQ?
Yes. The only time there isn’t is either because of environmental restrictions created in terms of getting a good signal out or if the house staff says, “No, you can’t do that.” Like we’re gonna make a million bucks off it. I’m sending out free TV, and it’s still hard to get people to watch.
It won’t be hard to get people to watch “Madoff,” the upcoming ABC miniseries starring Richard Dreyfuss as the notorious financier who pulled off a $65 billion Ponzi scheme and bankrupted thousands of investors. That airs Wednesday, Feb. 3, two days before you play here. You appear in “Madoff,” correct?
I have a small role, and I actually lost a scene because of scheduling, so that didn’t help my presence in the film. [Laughs] I’m there just a bit, but I got to work with Dreyfuss and hang out with him. He’s incredible in it. I also know Blythe Danner [who plays Madoff’s wife Ruth] and she’s brilliant. So I think it’s gonna be good.
In spite of today’s often censorious culture — eggshell-y, I guess — do you feel that this is a fertile time for comedy?
It is, but only in the sense that things are so insane. That’s the upside. The downside is that comedy and satire intersect now — wait, I mean reality and satire. Pick up the front page of any paper; one of those stories would be better if it were fiction. And funnier. The fact that it’s real is freakish.
What’s your take on the anti-government occupation at Oregon’s Malheur National Wildlife Refuge?
It’s like watching a cartoon. I don’t even know which one I would compare it to. They’ve invaded Yogi Bear’s campground, and Foghorn Leghorn is wandering around with a gun! I mean, that’s how crazy we are. These people have to be removed and that’s the deal. It’s public land; you take it to court.
Speaking of cartoons — sorry for the terrible segue — you’ve had plenty of voice roles, including Anger in the Academy Award-nominated “Inside Out.” Ever have young fans recognize you?
I’ve had parents bring their kids out, because the kids don’t really know it’s me. And then I tell the adults, “Now make sure you have an adult lock on your computer” because they really shouldn’t be watching my stand-up. Well — at least not until they’re 12 or so.
M. Brianna Stallings writes so you don’t have to.
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