Black brings rants back to Egyptian


Comedian Lewis Black is known for his angry attitude in performances, which includes ranting and swearing. Black will perform The Rant is Due: Part Deux 8 p.m. today at The Egyptian Theatre, 135 N. Second St.

By Arthur Aumann

Comedian Lewis Black is returning to DeKalb today — and no, his attitude has not mellowed out.

Black, who is also an author, actor and social critic, uses an angry face style of comedy with plenty of yelling and swearing while trying to get across the ridiculousness of social issues.

Black answered some questions about his career and what keeps him coming back to DeKalb:

Q: You’ve got kind of a unique, ranting, angry style of comedy. How did that come about? Was it drawn from any of your influences?

A: No. It took a long time to figure out but I’m funniest when I’m angry and that’s always been the case. I’m funniest when I’m sarcastic and when I’m angry — and it took me a long time to figure it out and take it on stage. Your instinct isn’t really, ‘Hey, let’s go on stage and be angry.’

Q: You studied playwriting in school and have written plays yourself. Who’s your favorite playwright?

A: There are a lot of favorites. Chekhov is pretty top-notch. Favorite plays would be: ‘A Thousand Clowns,’ ‘Death of a Salesman,’ the one I just saw, ‘You Can’t Take It With You’ — Sam Shepard’s stuff, especially his early stuff and Samuel Beckett. There’s a ton of them.

Q: You’ve done quite a bit of acting. What was your favorite role? If you could be on any television show which would it be?

A: My favorite role was the one in ‘Accepted.’ I played a fake president of a fake college and that was a lot of fun, in part because I got to improv a lot of it.

For a show, I guess ‘Housewives of Atlanta.’ (laughs) No, I’m kidding, I’m kidding. There’s a few of them: Larry David’s ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm,’ ‘The Big Bang Theory’ and ‘Harry’s Law,’ which was a show Kathy Bates did but was actually written for me up until the point when NBC obviously didn’t want to deal with me.

Q: You’ve been to DeKalb several times. What keeps you coming back?

A: They keep asking me. If they keep asking I’ll show up. One of the reasons you keep going back to places is because when you start as a comic you go to clubs, then you try to go back to those cities as often as you can and that’s the way you develop an audience. Over time I’ve been able to develop somewhat of an audience in DeKalb.

Q: Do you have a favorite place in DeKalb?

A: The theater, it’s a really nice theater. I don’t get to see much else, which is part of … the way it is — on the fly. I’ll get in on Thursday, get to the hotel, have just enough time to walk around for 10 to 15 minutes and then I’ll get ready for the show.

Q: What kind of advice would you give to aspiring comedians?

A: Do it again, do it again, do it again; just keep doing it. That’s really the bottom line. Just do it over and over and over again. If you’re just getting started and there are other comics just getting started and you’re supportive of each other, try to go to places together and work together so you can help each other out. It’s always good to have another eye.

I kind of did this all on my own, but I think if you have the opportunity to work with people you should. Worry more about the work than you do networking until you’re really good at your work. Then you can worry about networking. It doesn’t take 10 minutes unless you’re a natural, and I’ve only seen two in my lifetime.

Q: What can fans expect from your show Thursday night?

A: (jokingly) It’ll be another happy-go-lucky show. It’ll be about really trying to figure out where we are and why it’s funny. I talk about mental health, I talk about places I saw during my summer vacation when I toured Europe; I performed over there and talk about that.

What I’m doing now, no one in DeKalb has seen. I generally do a different show when I come back to a town so the show is totally different, but the attitude hasn’t changed. In fact, it’s probably gotten worse. If you had trouble with my attitude before, don’t think it’s mellowed; so, don’t come back going, ‘Well, maybe this time … .’

At the end of each act I do a Q&A with the audience. They’re given instructions and they can text me, and then it goes out over the Internet.