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

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Being that you're a topical comedian, commenting on politics and pop culture, all your material is so time-sensitive. I imagine you can't recycle jokes the way someone like Eddie Izzard, who does bits on ancient history and being a transvestite, can. Is it harder to only come up with material on current events?

I don't think it's harder. What Eddie and Seinfeld and Louis C.K. have to do is hard. What's hard for me is this: I was doing a special for HBO, and I was eager to shoot it as soon as possible, but then it took another year for it to be released. So a lot of its potency gets lost.

But I don't care, I'll still tell a joke about Sarah Palin. People still make jokes about the Flintstones, and the Flintstones have been off the air a lot longer than Sarah Palin has not been vice president.

And people say: Why don't you just release stuff instantly online, like Louis C.K.? Well, not everyone can do that; a portion of my audience isn't going to watch me on the Internet.

Do you think there's a fundamental difference between your audience and Louis C.K.'s?

No, it's just that Louis's got a TV show, so he has a much larger audience to draw from. So enough of his audience will go online for his stuff. Outside of appearing on The Daily Show, I'm just wandering around the country. I've developed a fan base, but part of that fan base is older.

How long have you been doing the "Back In Black" segment on The Daily Show?

I've been doing it since the beginning [in 1996]. I'm the last original member standing. It's been somewhere between chaos and necessity. They wanted to keep me on the show, but sometimes I'm busy or they're busy, but whenever there's a confluence of circumstance we're able to get together and put one on the air. It's Jon's show, so it's really up to them what they want to do.

Being that stress is such a part of your on-stage persona, do you feel that stress is a necessary or helpful aspect of life, or is this just a character you've created?

It's just a character. I don't think stress is helpful -- what I think is helpful is yelling. A lot of the time people ask: Where do you get the energy for all that anger? Well, it's not always something in the news that's making me angry, sometimes it's a computer glitch or a check that got screwed up in the mail. It can be any number of things. And you put all that together and go on stage, and I'll yell about what's in the news, but I'm really yelling about something else.

Is it possible for a comedian to be funny while being positive?

I think if you take positivity to its logical conclusion, you end up being so positive you look like an idiot, then it can be funny. But a comic isn't up there to look at the bright side -- that's a minister's job.

Lewis Black will be performing this Friday at 8 p.m. at the Ellie in the Denver Performing Arts Complex; tickets are $45 to $65. For more information visit www.denvercenter.org

Location Info


Ellie Caulkins Opera House

Denver Performing Arts Complex, Denver, CO

Category: Music

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