Photo courtesy of Lewis Black
The Comedy Central comedian sits down with Westchester to discuss comedy, The Daily Show, and his performance in Port Chester.
Whether you know him from The Daily Show on Comedy Central or as Anger from Pixar’s Inside Out, Lewis Black, the King of Rant, has made a splash in everything he has done. Now, he is set to take his talents to the Capitol Theatre in Port Chester for one night only. We caught up with the talented comedian, who provided a glimpse on how he got to where he is today.
Westchester Magazine: What made you get into comedy?
Lewis Black: It was mostly a transition from theater. I was writing plays, and I wanted to be a playwright. Eventually, I was doing standup on the side, and it became what people seemed really interested in, and not my plays. It was mostly, “If that’s what you want to see then I’ll throw that out there.”
WM: Were you always telling jokes when you were growing up? Was that something that you liked to do?
LB: I hung out with people who were funny. I didn’t write jokes. There were things that I wrote that I thought were funny, but I didn’t really study joke writing, per say. There are people who write great jokes; I’m not one of those people, but I can tell a funny story. My attitude is funny, and my sarcasm is pretty good. I just always knew that when the room needed to be inflated and needed some energy, that was when my talent would come into play.
WM: You have an extremely unique style of comedy. What made you go that route when you first started in the industry?
LB: I’m funny when I’m angry. That’s what took a long time to learn and to figure out.
WM: Before your first Comedy Central Presents in 1998, where were you performing? How did you get to a platform like that?
LB: I had been working at this place where we did plays in New York, West Bank Café, and we had a theater downstairs and I worked with two other guys. We produced a ton of new American plays, and I was the host of all of them. I had been doing standup on the side and folks were starting to say, “Well, come over to Catch a Rising Star, so I started going over there. Then I started to do more standup and I started to get more serious about it. After that, I started going on the road and, once I hit the road, that’s what led to it. I ended up doing Conan and a bunch of the five- to six-minute shows like Caroline’s Comedy Hour. I did a bunch of stuff that led to that [Comedy Central, 1998]. Then by 1998, I was already on the Daily Show and that was the push over the top.
WM: How was it performing on The Daily Show for the first time?
LB: It was great because they didn’t have expectations. It was all, “Let’s see if this works.” It was really good in that sense because they didn’t expect much. In the first five or six, I literally just improv’d. I did them three or four times and there was no audience except for the producers. They would say to keep this or to drop that. It was great.
WM: You’re scheduled to perform at the Capitol Theatre in Westchester. Have you ever performed in Westchester before?
LB: I’ve never performed at the Capitol Theatre, but I know it’s a really great venue.
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WM: What are you expecting from this show?
LB: I’m expecting a bitter crowd that makes New York a fun place to do a show. It’s funny because New York, Boston, Philadelphia, and Atlantic City is where bitterness dwells. It’s fun places to perform and I really look forward to playing it. I look forward to playing at the Capitol [Theatre] because it’s a great space. I don’t like playing in big [venues]. I like playing anywhere from 800 to 2,500 [people].
WM: What’s next for Lewis Black after you complete this tour?
LB: This tour [Off the Rails] will be a special. I really hit the road early and it didn’t go well because I just did too much too quickly, and I made myself a bit sick. I mean, I kind of just blew myself out. I was like a five-year-old who was way too overexcited. Then I started going again back in December and the special is what they’ll really be seeing. It’s kind of a bookend of Thanks for Risking Your Life, the special I just did. Following this, I will hit the road and start filming the special in May or July and hopefully start on my other special. We will be announcing the next tour dates in a couple of weeks for what’s coming up in the fall and the spring. At the end of each show, I do a thing called The Rant is Due, where folks can go to www.lewisblack.com and send in a rant if you lived in that area. I tend to read those rants. If something comes in and applies, I’ll read it. I hope folks look at that. It can be about anything.