Lewis Black on socialism, Louis C.K. and the new NRA app

lew black1.jpg

You've always actively identified yourself as a socialist; what do you make of the GOP's use of terms like "class warfare" and "don't punish success"?

I find it appalling, beyond belief. Part of the problem is, and always has been, that the Democrats allow the Republicans to control the discussion. The Republicans start calling it class warfare and the Democrats scramble for language, and they don't have the language, they can't seem to find it.

I didn't pay taxes, really pay taxes, until I was forty. I was a broke playwright. So the first time I paid taxes I was thrilled to be able to help. I know that some of the money I send to the government is going to get pissed away; but I also know that government money can stimulate the economy. We need financial responsibility, and the Republicans are the ones I look to for that, and they've wrapped themselves up in a whole bunch of other things that don't help.

They make stuff up, like "raising taxes on those making over $400,000 will hurt small businesses." Only 3 percent of small businesses were affected by that! And the fact that I have to spend time explaining this to people is ridiculous. Over the last twelve years the rich have soaked up all the money, and you'd think it would be patriotic for them to pay some of it back in taxes.

These people got rich because they have an inside track. And I know this because I've been wealthy; I had a whole slew of ways to hide cash. I looked at my accountant and I was like, "Are you sure this shit is legal?"

Speaking of how you got wealthy, in your standup performances you walk a fine line between funny-angry and unsettling-angry. What are the parameters of that? What is going too far as an angry performer?

The one thing I learned from working in theater is that you "act" angry. That way people will understand the anger but not be upset by it. I'm most funny when I'm angry, but when I'm really angry on stage -- which happens about once a night -- you cross a line and it freaks people out.

And then I imagine if you recognize it and can take it back a few notches, then that moment of them being freaked out and you being out of control will seem funny in hindsight.

Exactly. So long as they know that you're in control. So much about being a comic is about being in control. If they think you're out of control, you've got a problem. Sometimes I have to get angry in order to figure out how to make something funny.

Continue reading for more from Lewis Black.


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Ellie Caulkins Opera House

Denver Performing Arts Complex, Denver, CO

Category: Music


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