Why So Serious, Lewis Black?By John Wenzel | January 16th, 2013 | No Comments »
Lest you think Grammy-winning comedian Lewis Black is all about frothing anger and spittle-flecked tirades, the 64-year-old veteran of “The Daily Show” has a message for you: His blood pressure is actually quite healthy.
“It’s weird, but it’s really good!” said Black, who visits Fort Collins, Denver and Colorado Springs for three shows Thursday, Jan. 17 through Saturday, Jan. 19.
We got in touch up with the Grammy-winning stand-up over the phone as he was on tour promoting his new album, “In God We Rust,” to talk politics, performance stamina and the importance of naps.
For someone who projects so much energy and volume on stage, how do you keep on your game?
I take naps. I seriously take naps. I drink a lot of water before I do the shows, and I’ve done it long enough that I know how to modulate it. So some of the times I can be angry without yelling, even though people seem to be happier if I’m yelling. If I’m on a long run I’ll notice my voice getting thin, like when I did eight shows on Broadway and almost two hours a night. My voice gets weaker.
Do you have any other pre-show rituals?
I quit smoking on stage 30 years ago. I used to smoke on stage, and then it was like, “This isn’t gonna work.” And I don’t drink on stage either. It dries out your vocal chords. But I drink afterwards when it doesn’t matter if they’re dry.
And you perform like crazy. I think your press release said something like 200 shows per year.
Somewhere between 120 to 200, depending. The thing is I’m definitely not home — or even near it — 200 days a year.
I’m sure I’m not the first journalist to ask this, but I’m curious: what’s your blood pressure like?
It’s healthy, and what comedy allows me to do is let it all out. Everybody goes through their days and there’s these things that pile up and they’re all little things and they’re irritating. And in the end, when I’m yelling, that’s where it’s coming from. I deal with all the bull (crap). And there’s something weird about comedy. If you look at these guys, at the Friar’s Club-type guys, Don Rickles is still working and George Burns and Groucho Marx worked into their 80s and 90s. I just think there’s something about standing in front of a group of people and having that kind of energy come at you every night, that kind of focus. It’s got to be good on a certain level. Because really, these guys all drank, they all smoked and did all this other stuff.
You get so much great material from political campaigns. Do you ever feel deflated after an election cycle is over? Clearly, political idiocy isn’t the exclusive province of that.
It’s so rich. But the thing is, as each political cycle comes to an end I’ve felt more of a release that it’s over with, just the sheer nonsense of it. With each one it becomes more apparent, like, “Really, we’re going to do this again?” I’m not that big with Christmas traditions, but I get it. But the election trappings that go on around it for a year — in Canada it’s four months! That’s it! Here, we get nothing done. We stop. It’s ludicrous in a time frame where things are speeding up everywhere else. We don’t have the time to stop and contemplate this crap. It’s not like these people are geniuses.
And to hear them just go around and around on the same topics can be supremely disheartening.
Look, my humor comes out of anger, so the fiscal cliff thing we just went through … you keep thinking, “They’re not allowed to do this!” Why are the American people suffering these idiots? You sit there and threaten us with destroying the economy? You don’t get to do that! There’s no country on the planet that would allow that kind of behavior. It’s like there are no adults anywhere. And to do it around Christmastime? It’s not part of their game. They’re not even allowed to be on the Monopoly board.
LEWIS BLACK’S “THE RANT IS DUE” TOUR. 8 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 17, the Lincoln Center, 417 W. Magnolia St., in Fort Collins; 8 p.m. Friday, Jan. 18, Ellie Caulkins Opera House, 14th and Curtis streets, Denver; 8 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 19, Pikes Peak Center, 190 S. Cascade Ave., Colorado Springs. $45-$65. 800-745-3000 or livenation.com.