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Lewis Black: The Angry Man Cometh
September 7, 2012  | By Eric Gould  | 1 comment

With the elections coming, and regular appearances on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, you'd expect Lewis Black would be primed to take his brand of rage humor up a notch and fire away at both political parties. After all, it is the season, and he's hit the target dead center with past specials such as Red, White and Screwed.

But in his new hour-long Comedy Central special Lewis Black: In God We Rust, premiering Friday night, (Saturday morning) at 12 a.m., midnight, ET, his shotgun spray of observations are aimed wider. Yes, he comments on politics, but also includes rants on Valentine's Day, the (now thankfully cancelled) MTV show The Jersey Shore, iPhones and Facebook.

With Black and other rage comics, like the late Sam Kinison, it's maybe no so much the material but the delivery. The best part of Black's style is his slow, deliberate, assembling of a few threads of an observation, which then explode in a fiery spew. It's sort of like winding your crazy, foul-mouthed uncle up with 12 cups of espresso, putting him on stage and letting him go.

Since Black travels between poles of wearied angst and spewing outrage, there is a high amount of tension at any given time, and that's half the fun. He jokes about descriptions of him "having a comedy style that suggests he's having a mental breakdown." His crisis is our pleasure.

Of course, the funniest comics are always the smartest, and Black, for his insight, ranks as one at the top. He's got two Grammy wins for comedy albums, written three books and over 40 plays. He's on the road over 200 days a year doing stand-up.

And since he travels so much, he starts in with questions he gets at check-in counters: "Did a stranger pack your bags?" he recounts, and says, "Because if the person answers yes — they're out of their mind."

Now over 60, he's the perfect guy to rant about confusing electronics, especially voice recognition on your phone and the ability to ask it to locate, say, a great sushi place. "I believe, in America, if you are standing on a street corner, asking an inanimate object about the best place to get raw fish … you've lost your f*cking mind."

His anger may only be exceeded by his resignation. He tossed his iPhone, saying it was a good computer but a lousy phone, and went for an Android. Then that malfunctioned showing screens and information he hadn't asked for. He tells the Verizon store salesman who offers him a new replacement phone "No, you're not. I don't think you realize what's happening here today. This is historic. My phone — my phone — is beginning to exhibit signs of free will. I have to learn to communicate with IT. I don't have children and this could be my last chance. I'm gonna raise this little son of a bitch, and he's gonna be great."

But, as usual, Black's best moments are when he gets political. He loves the idea of a third party movement, but not the Tea Party: "Busting out of their double-wides, dressed as Ben Franklin, a kite in one hand, a key in the other, screaming 'Don't tax the rich!'" Then, in a near whisper, "If a group of leaders...can convince a group of people who don't have a pot to piss in...that the rich should not be taxed — THAT, is leadership."

That kind comic indignation is why it's always a good idea to spend an hour with Lewis Black.

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My husband got tickets to see Lewis Black a few years ago…at my request. I found myself to be in the minority, one of very few women at the performance. Is it so wrong that I find him hysterically funny and so on-the-mark as you’re writing about here, Eric?! I agree completely “…the funniest comics are always the smartest…” (my favorite, Eddie Izzard, for instance) and that’s why they say so much more, in my opinion. Lewis Black’s rant on Glenn Beck’s “Nazi Tourette’s?" Genius! I haven’t seen “In God We Rust” yet but, from your review, I see that I'll find it equally as brilliant…and funny.
Sep 13, 2012   |  Reply
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