Lewis Black: mad as hell and not gonna take it anymore

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For a man that has made a living being angry, Lewis Black sure seems in good spirits these days. Well, in as good of spirits as one can be when everything in the world is perilously perched on a cliff, with doom waiting below.

Black is a stand-up comedian who has pretty much made a career out of ranting. The rants can be about anything really: politics, history, religion, social trends, technology, etc.

There really is no base left untouched when it comes to Black’s angry, profanity-laden, finger-wagging rants, and Bellingham will get an earful when he comes to the Mt. Baker Theater on Jan. 31.

The Bellingham stop is one of the 43 shows Black will be performing for his tour, titled “The Rant Is Due.”

When considering the fact that Black has been ranting non-stop for the better part of three decades, it seems like the rant has never gone away, but maybe that is the point anyway.

“It was just a goofy name we came up with for the tour,” Black said. “Really, the rant is always due. There is always something to be pissed-off about. This shit just keeps getting better and better.”

For this tour, Black will be trying out new material that ranges from the current state of politics in America—the fiscal cliff, Obama’s re-election, Republicans—and America’s obsession with technology and social media.

“I think the real problem with our country is that everyone has ADD,” Black said. “I think it’s very true and it kind of amazes me people don’t want to talk about it. Someone has to do it, and if it has to be me, then so be it.”

One of Black’s newest subjects for this tour is social media, and how a whole generation has become obsessed with it.

“I have a Facebook account, and it is easy to use and everything, but now I have a million friends and I have no clue who any of them are,” he said. “Then, I use Spotify to listen to music, and all of a sudden everything I listened to is posted on my Facebook page. Now a million people know I listened to Adele.”

He said that young people will often ask him about his critiques of social media, and they will tell him that he just doesn’t get it: “’Fuck you!’ is what I say to those people,” Black said. “They are the ones that don’t get it.”

Because he has been on the comedy scene for so long, Black has to balance his material between two audiences: the older audience that knows him for his albums and larger body of work, and the younger audience who was introduced to him through his “Back In Black” segment on The Daily Show.

“I’m very comfortable talking to both audiences. Sometimes, I talk to them all at the same time on subjects that span the age gap,” Black said. “But, I have no problem talking straight to the young people and telling them they are full of shit, and talking to the older people and telling them they have failed. For the younger crowd, I really just want to give them an honest account of what it is really like to grow up in this shit hole.”

Black said that the material he creates from “The Rant Is Due” will be used and recorded for a DVD special, which will be the ninth comedy special he has recorded. He has also released nine comedy albums, two of which garnered Black a Grammy Award for Best Comedy Album. Black just received another Grammy nomination for his latest comedy album “In God We Rust,” which was released this year, but recorded nearly two years ago. Black is one of only nine comedians who have won multiple Grammy Awards for a comedy album.

“It was crazy how long it took to get that last album out. If it takes that long to get “The Rant Is Due” out, I’ll kill someone,” Black said.

“In God We Rust” was a marked change from Black’s other material, as it was much more low-key, not as angry as and more introspective than his traditional material.

“I did take a slower, more balanced approach to my last special, which is why I want
‘The Rant Is Due’ to be, in some ways, the opposite of that: something more than just anger. I’m just appalled these days,” Black said. “It’s just like, it seems like shit is just starting to pile up and we’re all fucked.”

For some, Black’s angry ranting may be too caustic, but for others it serves as the ventilation for their own frustrations with the world around us.

“I’ve always been told, since I was young, that I was funniest when I was at my angriest,” he said. “So, that’s what I try to do. I try to funnel all that anger into comedy, and then hopefully that comedy makes people laugh and think and feel a little less angry in the process.”

Tickets for the Lewis Black “Rant Is Due” comedy special can be purchased at the Mt. Baker Theater box office and online at mountbakertheater.com. For more information about Lewis Black, see lewisblack.com/.

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