Lewis Black is most famous for appearing on TV as an irate commentator on Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show With Jon Stewart,” but his favorite work is standup comedy.
He loves solo shows like his upcoming Sept. 14 “ The Rant Is Due” program at the Gallo Center for the Arts in Modesto. All he has to deal with is the audience. If a bit doesn’t work, the audience lets him know and he can adjust.
When he’s working in theater, TV or movies, he said, he also has to answer to some clueless executive. “It’s always somebody telling you something they know nothing about,” Black said in a recent phone interview. “I really can’t take these people any more. Their skill is self-confidence.”
Black, who just turned 65, has built a successful career in pointing out things that annoy him. The foul-mouthed commentator’s recent topics include how his generation screwed up and how everything is worse because everyone has attention deficit disorder. He also likes talking about why our country still doesn’t have a viable source of alternative energy.
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“We’re more interested in having a phone that we can carry around with us,” he said. “The fact that any jackass can get in touch with us 24-7 – that’s what we’re looking for.”
His comedy specials include last month’s pay-per-view live broadcast from Atlantic City “Old Yeller” and the 2011 special “In God We Rust.” Black’s last 2010 sold-out performance at the Gallo Center was part of the “In God We Rust” tour. He is the voice of “Anger” in the upcoming 2015 animated film “Inside Out,” about the emotions inside a young girl.
Born and raised in the Washington, D.C., area, he has degrees from the University of North Carolina and the Yale School of Drama and briefly owned a theater in Colorado. He has written three best-selling books, including 2010’s “I’m Dreaming of a Black Christmas.”
Black said he wasn’t always pessimistic. He started out full of hope like most young people. “I lived too close to Washington and spent too much time working on campaigns,” he said. “That knocked it out of me. I still have faith and optimism in the American people but not in the leaders because they seem that they haven’t been to any schooling at all.”
He thinks the current Congress is the worst one in his lifetime.
“They do nothing,” he said. “It’s historic. It’s the worst Congress ever. There’s no discussion of it. If the Republicans had any brains at all, they would deal with the Tea Party. We don’t have time for them, we really don’t. There’s stuff we have to do.”
Black thinks it’s striking that the politicians who were in power in Washington, D.C., when he was a kid were more effective than the current leaders.
“The drunks did a better job of governing the country than these guys going to the gym,” he said.