Lewis Black is probably best known for his screaming, satirical Back in Black reports on Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.”
But Black has a fascinating back story, earning degrees from the University of North Carolina and Yale Drama School on his way to becoming a playwright, actor and stand-up comedian.
He’s recorded a string of popular comedy CDs, filmed a pair of HBO comedy specials — “Black on Broadway” and the Emmy-nominated “Red, White and Screwed” — and written two best-selling books — “Nothing’s Sacred” and “Me of Little Faith.”
Black brings his irreverent, left-leaning political humor to the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre on Saturday as part of his current “In God We Rust” tour. Outspoken as ever, he had plenty to say during a recent phone conversation. Here’s some of what we could print.
Q: I think people might be surprised to find out that you are a University of North Carolina graduate. And you still have a place in Chapel Hill, right?
A: Yes. I mainly live in a tour bus but I go back and forth between New York City and Chapel Hill. Going to UNC was an important part of my life. I was born and raised in Maryland, which can go from sophisticated to weird and scary. When I went to UNC, I was a Yankee. And when I went up to drama school at Yale, they said I had a Southern accent.
Q: What region of the country has the best comedy audiences?
A: It’s actually everywhere now. The change started to come with cable. That changed the nature of the comedy universe. For me, a lot of it has to do with Comedy Central. The people who show up at my tours get it.
Q: We’ll probably need to bleep this, but what’s bugging you right now?
A: I’m too tired to keep up with it all. It’s so crazy. You think, “Oh, this is the worst it could ever be.” But it never is. Somebody who was once a little scary to me, like say Newt Gingrich, looks like Winston Churchill compared to Sarah Palin. The Democrats are entrenched in a kind of cluelessness, though that’s no different than the Republicans. Essentially, the right is where the left was in the ’60s. So have a good time. Enjoy it.
Q: You have a new book coming out soon, right? Want to give us a little preview?
A: I’m going to Chapel Hill to keep working on it. But it’s coming out at Christmastime. It’s a stocking stuffer. It’s called “I’m Dreaming of a Black Christmas.” It’s all about how that one day is an expression of people’s love of family, and it’s also that one day when you look around and go, “Holy God, this is my gene pool.”
Q: Any big regrets at this point?
A: I’ve done pretty well. Sometimes I think, what if I’d gone into comedy earlier? But then I wouldn’t be able to hate theater as much as I do and still afford to do it.
8 p.m. Saturday. Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre, 2800 Cobb Galleria Parkway, Atlanta, $40.50-$73. 770-916-2800; cobbenergycentre.com ; ticketmaster.com
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