Share This Page

Comedian Black not prone to seeing things as shades of gray

| Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2013, 8:56 p.m.
Comedian Lewis Black

Lewis Black speaks in the voice of the angry radio talk-show caller who's fed to the teeth with craven politicians, stupid reality shows, vacuous celebrities, Wall Street duplicity, overpaid professional athletes, greedy sports-team owners and Facebook.

The difference is, he's usually funny.

The perpetually perturbed comedian has plenty to say about the recent fiscal cliff crisis, for which he says both sides of Congress bear the blame. He'll give the audience an earful when he performs Saturday at Heinz Hall.

“If it weren't Congress, one would call what they're doing to the economy ‘terrorism,' ” Black says in his trademark croak. “It's shameful. Listening to them enrages me.”

Since his 1996 debut as a dyspeptic commentator on “The Daily Show,” the playwright and social critic has expanded the art of complaining into comedy specials and DVDs, concert films, best-selling books and a one-man show, “Lewis Black on Broadway.” He won a Grammy in 2007 for his comedy album “The Carnegie Hall Performance” and another in 2001 for “Stark Raving Black.”

Black discovered his gift for comedy after he earned an master of fine arts in playwriting degree from the Yale School of Drama. In the 1980s, he was playwright-in-residence at the West Bank Cafe Downstairs Theatre Bar in Manhattan. While he'd performed stand-up in other places, he discovered his true comedic voice when he emceed theater shows and found that audiences responded to his wry, sarcastic humor.

He cites George Carlin as one of his primary influences. In a 2007 interview with the Tribune-Review, Carlin said Black was one of the comedians whose work he admired.

On stage, Black paces like a commuter waiting in the cold for a bus that's 30 minutes late. While the anger is real, he says he never forgets that he's paid to make people laugh.

“My bitterness usually comes out in interviews. What I do onstage is work on taking the bitterness and making it funny, but it always starts with anger.”

His prediction for 2013?

“It will be like 2012, only stupider,” he says.

William Loeffler is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at wloeffler@tribweb.com or 412-320-7986.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.