By Kevin Madigan | firstname.lastname@example.org
Lewis Black is appearing at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre on May 1 as part of his “The Rant Is Due: Part Deux” national tour. The Atlanta Jewish Times caught up with the acerbic Jewish comedian on the phone for a quick chat.
AJT: How are you?
Black: Oh, it gets better all the time.
AJT: Are you sure about that?
Black: We’ve got things squared away now. We have a new vision coming in. We’re gonna move to a better tomorrow, finally. [Laughs.] Yeah, right. We’re really going to get right on top of this.
AJT: It’s a mess.
Black: We don’t do anything except discuss. Not even really discuss. We argue, and all we’re really doing is arguing about what we’re not doing.
AJT: Evading the issues?
Black: Yeah. How many times does each side have to tell us about the other side? Seriously. When you reach my age, you see it all. Republicans are going to continue to allow the tail to wag the dog, so we’re just not going to get anywhere. And Democrats basically don’t have the effective will to operate and are afraid, allowing the minority to have all the power. Same thing happened in the ’60s when I was a kid. Hell, I had more power than I should have had.
AJT: Candidates spewing out platitudes, not really talking about anything concrete. This Marco Rubio guy just announced his candidacy.
Black: There’s nothing concrete. “We’re going to go to a new tomorrow.” That’s great. We’re supposed to be there already, a–hole. The way things are going, quite frankly, yesterday might well be tomorrow. But he’s handsome! Very good-looking man. [Laughs.] It would be nice to have someone running who had some real chops about how to get s— done. Obama wasn’t seasoned enough to be president of the United States, and neither is this kid.
AJT: Do you think Hillary Clinton is?
Black: She may be over-seasoned.
Black: Right, overcooked! [Laughs.]
AJT: Where are you right now?
Black: Standing in front of a bus — no, a train station — in Baltimore, Maryland.
AJT: You’re all over the place on this tour. Do you ever get onstage and think, “I don’t want to do this tonight, I’m tired”?
Black: Well, I’m tired, but that never happens. After I take my nap, I’m ready to go.
AJT: Bill Cosby is playing the same venue the night after you.
Black: I know. We have a big crossover audience!
AJT: Do you know him?
Black: Never met him. To be honest, people and other comedians I know and respect, they love him. But, his comedy — I should at some point listen more to him, but honestly, I liked him more on “I Spy.” That had more of an effect on me than his comedy did. I was doing fine with Lenny Bruce, Richard Pryor, those guys.
AJT: What do you think about the new comedians, Trevor Noah, for instance?
Black: I think we’ll have to see. I don’t really know him. We didn’t cross paths at “The Daily Show” at any time. As I’ve said, as long as they keep that production staff and writers in place, we’ll be fine, I think. It’ll be a different show, but it will be fine. Jon [Stewart] did a great job of focusing them to go where he was interested. He had a vision for each night’s show, but those guys can write. They throw away better material than what you see most of the time.
AJT: You’re going to continue with it, right?
Black: I guess. We’ll see, but I think so. Unless they’re stupid.
AJT: You never know. There’s a lot of stupidity around.
Black: [Laughs.] Especially at Comedy Central!
AJT: Your Children of the Forest scholarship fund provides assistance to refugee and migrant children in the Thai-Burmese border region of the Kanchanaburi province in Thailand. Can you talk a little about that?
Black: The guy who runs my website stuff, a place called Fan Asylum, his name is Tim McQuaid, he spent a lot of time in Thailand and somehow stumbled across a group of kids. He said a year ago that we have all these Lewis Black T-shirts, how about we give them to the kids? I said sure. But then I thought we can do a lot more than that. We can send 11 kids to college for 25 grand. That’s a steal. I had the opportunity, and we’ve almost raised the money. We’re at 16 grand or so now [at press time, the amount topped $20,000]. Look, whenever I have the opportunity to funnel cash, I do it, though most of the stuff I do is here in the States. This is an opportunity to have an effect somewhere else. It’s nice.
AJT: The documentary “Comedy Warriors: Healing Through Humor” has you and other comedians helping injured veterans become stand-up pros. It was a big hit at the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival.
Black: Nice. That’s good. One of the guys is Jewish, lives here in Baltimore. I had him open for me when I played in Washington.
AJT: How did he do?
Black: He did fine. You know, he learned a lot.
AJT: What’s his name?
Black: I can’t — my brain. … God gives you a thousand names in your Rolodex. You push another one in, and one pops out. [Laughs.] I feel terrible but I just — I have an inkling. [The wounded warrior/comedian is Joe Kashnow.]
AJT: Have you heard about this pastor here in Georgia, Creflo Dollar, who asked his congregation for $65 million to buy a new Learjet?
Black: Yeah, I saw that. If I wanted to make more money — there’s two ways to make more money than by doing stand-up. There’s religion, or you can open a gun shop. These guys, it’s incredible. You know, when I was coming up, it was [Jimmy] Swaggart. One of the great losses of my life was not being able to watch Swaggart anymore.
AJT: With tears running down his face.
Black: Yeah. Schmuck. But, boy, he was fun to watch. He could really throw a speech out.
AJT: Thanks for your time, Lewis.
Black: Thanks. I look forward to coming to Atlanta. I hope you get to come to the show.
AJT: I’ll ask your publicist if she’ll get me in.
Black: Oh, yeah, you’ll get in. I get comps everywhere I go. I don’t have 30 friends in Atlanta! See you at the show. Tell everybody I’m looking forward to the traffic. That’s what gives me the greatest joy of coming to Atlanta, Georgia.
Who: Comedian Lewis Black
Where: Cobb Energy Centre, 2800 Cobb Galleria Parkway
When: 8 p.m. Friday, May 1
Tickets: $35 to $72; www.cobbenergycentre.com/event/lewis-black