Radio and TV Talk

Rodney Ho covers TV and radio, from Atlanta’s stations to the hottest “American Idol" news.

Lewis Black ("The Daily Show,' 'Inside Out,' Tabernacle 10/15) spews venom about presidential election

By RODNEY HO/, originally filed Friday, September 30, 2016

Four stand-up comics are converging upon Atlanta within two days of each other in mid October.

Their humor ranges from frustrated (Lewis Black) to observational (Roy Wood Jr.) , from raunchy (Amy Schumer) to downright surreal (Maria Bamford).

All four have had success on TV and film.

Bamford, appearing at the Tabernacle October 14, stars in Netflix's 2016 comedy "Lady Dynamite," playing a twisted version of herself. Black, at the Tabernacle the next night, has been an acidic "Daily Show" contributor for two decades and played Anger in Pixar's animated 2015 hit "Inside Out."

Wood, taping a free Comedy Central special at Center Stage October 14 (get tix here),  has been a regular correspondent for "The Daily Show" for a year and regularly appeared on TBS's comedy "Sullivan and Son." And Schumer, the first solo female stand-up artist to ever headline Philips Arena on October 15, stars in her Emmy-winning Comedy Central sketch comedy show "Inside Amy Schumer" and the 2015 comedy film "Trainwreck."

Here's an excerpt of my talk with the irascible Black the day after the first presidential debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.

Q: I heard you missed the debate because you were taping your Comedy Central special in New York.

Black: It was great. Nothing better! We booked that long before they scheduled this debate and had those two idiots stand in a room together. So to me, it was huge. It was a massive break! The audience seemed to be as relieved as I was. I couldn't tell if they were enjoying my show or happy that they were away from the TV!

Q: I get a sense you can't wait for this election to happen already.

Black: It goes beyond disturbing. Each day it goes, at some point, I feel like there will be a crack in the sky. There will be a zipper that starts to open. What I'm watching wouldn't even take place in a high school gym. Trump is like... really? Clinton is on the debate team. God knows what he's on. I don't know what team he could be on. It would be an insult to that team.

Q; I read that you don't actually spew much bile about Trump in your stand-up routine.

Black: I skip it and go to the fact, how do you satirize what's already satire? I don't deal with him much. Everybody in the audience already has jokes. What do you need from me?  If you don't get the joke, that's just scary.

Q: There are tens of millions of Americans prepared to vote for him.

Black: They don't live in New York City [where Black resides.] He's been in sitting on our faces for decades. This is what's really irritating to me, to be caught in a position I've never been caught in. Normally I don't care how you vote. But you can't vote for him. You don't change government by blowing it up. Anybody my age should know that. [He's 68, same age as Clinton.] It doesn't work. That's not sending a message to Washington. I don't even know what to say to Trump supporters. This has nothing to do with democracy. Both parties somehow nominated the two least trusted and least liked nominees.

Q: You've told me before you take a lot of naps to keep your stress down. How do you manage this stressful presidential campaign?

Black: I get to yell four days a week on stage. That helps. But watching cable news doesn't. The news outlets are out of their minds. They should be imprisoned. The media turned the debate into the Super Bowl. CNN had a countdown clock. They have David Gergen, one of the best and brightest. Then they bring six other people out. You don't need that many people! They generate nonsense. They want fireworks. Voters needs to do their due diligence. People need to study the issues. Give us the information. If they don't watch, I don't give a s***. That's your job!

Q: Are people even caring much what the media says?

Black: We are literally part of the problem in this vacuum. We're in a transition from whatever the age of before to the age of where we're going. We're caught in the middle. We're buck naked and screaming!

Q: The New York Times loved  your show Monday. 

Black: It's nice to hear. Everybody has been saying that. I feel better. I was obsessed with the writer saying I was meandering. [That was honestly the closest to a negative statement the writer made. Figures Black would hone in on that and not the praise!]

Q: Is there going to be a sequel to "Inside Out"?

Black: I keep telling them to try to get it wrapped up. I want to be in it when they have it. I'm hoping. I don't know. It depends how they set it up. When they're young, they have male and female voices. As the characters get older, they become all male or all female. When she begins dating and hits puberty, does my character transition?

Q: Trevor Noah has not gotten a lot of love since he joined "The Daily Show." He had big shoes to fill. What do you think of him?

Black: I like Trevor. I think he has been a great addition. They are still figuring out what they're doing. What do you want from him? He's a kid for all intents and purposes. It's a matter of getting that persona he has. It's about bringing more of what he does as a comedian. It's a transition. You go from a comic to a nightly host. It's different. You have to find your voice. Give him some space you f**king idiots!

Q: When are you coming back on the show?

Black. I"m doing it October 3 next week. I usually do four or five a year.

Q: How involved are you in the diatribe you do?

Black; They come up with the concept, then we work with it. I read it and punch it up.


Lewis Black

8 p.m. Saturday, October 15


The Tabernacle

152 Luckie Street NW, Atlanta



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About the Author

Rodney Ho covers radio and television for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

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