Rant on: Comedian Lewis Black returns to Beaver Creek
If You Go ...
What: Comedian Lewis Black, “The Rant is Due” tour.
Where: Vilar Performing Arts Center, Beaver Creek.
When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday.
More information: Buy tickets online at vilarpac.org, or call 970-845-TIXS (8497) or
Lewis Black is what anger sounds like, at least that’s what Disney says.
Black, who’s performing Saturday at the Vilar Performing Arts Center, is the voice of anger inside a 12-year-old girl in the new Disney/Pixar animated movie, “Inside Out.”
“All that work for all those years finally paid off! I made it to animation!” Lewis said during a phone interview.
Black is sort of a modern version of Will Rogers, only crankier. He reads the news and comments on it.
“You people in Vail and Beaver Creek can’t really know how effed up the world is. News doesn’t get that high,” Black said.
Speaking of high, he said he’ll probably leave the dope jokes to his friend and long-time opening act, John Bowman.
He’s been on the road almost non-stop since he was 40, which is now a couple decades ago.
Funny and furious
Like many comedy geniuses, his stage persona is only occasionally what he’s like in real life.
“I’m funniest when I’m angry. It took me a long time to figure that out,” he said. “I have two degrees in theater (University of North Carolina) and one is a master’s (Yale), and this is what people want to see.”
“If someone had told me that I could make money being pissed off, I’d have gotten pissed off a lot earlier,” he said.
Then again, there’s plenty to be angry about, he said.
Some people claim to be offended at the amount of profanity he uses in his act.
“They’re often people my age!” Black said. “There are six people left in the middle class, and you’re telling me profanity never crossed your mind?”
Black is one of the great comic voices of our time. He’s talented and hard working, and knows he’s also lucky. Like his act, his conversation is peppered with what we’ll call “colorful metaphors.”
Use your imagination.
Black was born in Washington D.C. and raised in nearby Silver Spring, Maryland. He was colicky as a baby, and may still be.
You can bless his mom, a teacher, and dad, a mechanical engineer, for instilling in him and his brother Ron a healthy ability to question authority.
He eventually settled in New York City and became the playwright-in-residence at the West Bank Cafe’s Downstairs Theatre Bar. Black helped develop more than 1,000 plays, including works by West Wing and The Newsroom creator Aaron Sorkin, “American Beauty” writer Alan Ball, as well as his own works.
And he emceed every show. Nothing improves your stage presence like being on stage. As the West Bank Cafe’s Downstairs Theatre Bar grew, so did Black’s stand-up skills. He found his public voice and left the West Bank Cafe’s Downstairs Theatre Bar in the late ’80s to pursue stand-up comedy full-time.
“I was lucky and never had to be the second or third guy,” he said.
Lucky is good, but it’s worthless without work.
Black still drags his butt out of bed at 5 a.m many mornings to appear on morning radio shows. Eventually, he worked himself into the eye of comedy’s perfect storm.
In 1996, producer and friend Lizz Winstead tapped him to create a weekly segment for Comedy Central’s Daily Show with Jon Stewart. “Back in Black” is a three-minute rant about whatever is bothering him at the moment, and there’s always something.
Conan O’Brian found him a slot Late Night every week or two; David Letterman took up the cause, he’s had countless memorable appearance on CNN; Comedy Central started to put his face out front.
Ask him anything
Because his vernacular tends to be colorful, he can’t get his own show. Technology has enabled him to bypass the Powers That Be and livestream his shows.
“I can say whatever I want,” he said.
He’s working out material for another special, and that’s good. However, the last 15-20 minutes of the show he turns up the house lights and lets the crowd pepper him with questions, which is better.
And people ask the darndest things.
“That shows how effing psychotic it is,” he said.
Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and firstname.lastname@example.org.