Lewis Black rants about Trump/Biden replay, retiring from touring

‘The Daily Show’ contributor has a sold-out show at Buckhead Theatre April 21.
Lewis Black doing a recent rant on "The Daily Show." COMEDY CENTRAL



Lewis Black doing a recent rant on "The Daily Show." COMEDY CENTRAL

Lewis Black, like some of his comparably seasoned brethren on the music side such as Elton John and Kenny Loggins, has decided to retire from hardcore touring as he approaches his 76th birthday.

So his stop on Sunday, April 21, at Buckhead Theatre may be his last one in Atlanta. It’s largely sold out but as of this writing, there are single seats available at livenation.com for $75.

“I used to do 200 shows a year, then cut back to 125 and I’m now at about 100,” Black told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Thursday. “Now I’m ready to sit down and focus on other things.”

Even though he doesn’t want to tour anymore, he still plans to do one-off shows here and there or open for a bigger act when the mood strikes him.

With the extra time, Black plans to write more books and surrealistic comedic one-act plays. He’ll also continue to record his podcast “Rantcast” and provide his signature rants on Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show.”

His last “Daily Show” rant a month ago about artificial intelligence was vintage Black: exasperated, annoyed and cranky to the max.

“Train the next AI to act more like me,” Black said on the show. “That way when you try to give it some [expletive] assignment, it’ll always give you the right answer: ‘Go [expletive] yourself!’”

Black has been a recurring contributor on the show since it started in 1996 when Craig Kilborn was host. “It’s always a lot of fun,” he said. “I have two more years on my contract and we’ll see how it goes.”

He’s happy to see Jon Stewart back at the helm, even part time, although the constant speculation over who will permanently take over the helm after Trevor Noah left bemuses him.

“This is not a holy seat,” he said. “This isn’t the Vatican! The show is about the satire. It’s about the writers. "

For his stand-up show, Black generally avoids talking about Joe Biden or Donald Trump even though they are facing off again because he feels like there’s nothing new to say.

“It’s like your parents telling you the same bedtime story until you’re 30,” he said. “You can’t rewrite this story although the media is trying.”

Black still watches plenty of cable news yet finds the horse race and personality coverage exhausting. He’d rather the anchors address issues in more consequential detail, like explaining how inflation works.

“Why are my bananas costing more?” he said. “You can make it understandable. That’s the job of the news media. But all they do is talk about the people, not the issues. It’s disgusting!”

On stage, Black said, he shifts around 20% to 25% of his material any given night and he’ll frequently change up how he tells a joke on the fly.

“Jerry Seinfeld is very precise,” Black said. “He writes his routine like a movie or a musical score where every note matters, every pause matters. That’s not me.”

Early in his career in the late 1980s and early 1990s, he tried Seinfeld’s method. But it didn’t work for him. “I spent so much time memorizing it, I was losing the funny,” he said.

Instead, he feeds off the audience and adjusts as he goes.

“I do a long rant about banning books,” he said. “But it changes every night. I’ll move pieces around. I kind of know where I’m going but sometimes I get off an exit ramp and leave everyone behind.”

Black admits that this means he’ll bomb on occasion. “It doesn’t bother me,” he said. “That’s part of the reason why some people show up. They want to watch a joke blow up in my face.”

Black was able to funnel his persona into Anger in the 2015 Pixar film “Inside Out,” a massive hit where emotions such as Joy, Sadness, Fear and Anger were embodied as characters in the mind of an 11-year-old girl named Riley. It took 11 years, but the sequel is coming out June 14 and Black is back.

“I never thought it would happen,” he said. “I didn’t think they could pull it off.”

Though Black hasn’t yet seen the final version, he likes how “Inside Out 2″ explores puberty by advancing Riley two years to the age of 13 and adding an array of additional emotion characters such as Anxiety, Envy, Ennui and Embarrassment.

“We went from being a string quartet to an orchestra of sorts,” he said. “But I still get a chunk of lines.”


Lewis Black: Goodbye Yeller Brick Road Tour

7 p.m. Sunday, April 21. $75, Buckhead Theatre, 3110 Roswell Road NE, Atlanta. livenation.com