(The Guide 4/1) Did Lewis Black, the frazzled and perpetually angry “Daily Show” commentator and comedian with a liberal bent but an intolerance for foolishness of all varieties, realize he had booked a show next door to the home territory of Joe Wilson, whose outburst at the president last year made him a frequent target of late-night mockery?
“Perfect,” Black said when this was brought to his attention during a phone interview. “That explains the ticket sales.”
Black is making his first-ever appearance in Savannah on Thursday, though his broad appeal and track record as the frustrated, indignant Greek chorus to the nonstop drama that is the nation’s political and cultural ridiculousness gives little doubt he will have trouble filling the Johnny Mercer Theatre.
When: 8 p.m. April 3
Where: Johnny Mercer Theatre, 301 W. Oglethorpe Ave., Savannah.
Information: 912-651-6556, 800-351-7469, www.savannahcivic.com
In fact, Black has gone from an exasperated mouthpiece for informed discontent with his “Back in Black” segment on “The Daily Show” and occasional Comedy Central specials to something resembling a mainstream comedian. He’s now got two HBO specials under his belt, as well as a series of movies and voice-over roles, a “Law and Order” role, a History Channel special, various commercials, several books and a stint on the 2007 USO tour with Robin Williams and Kid Rock.
It was in 2005, when The Weather Channel asked him to do a series of segments, that Black felt he’d finally broken out of his niche comedy market. “I had done a tour on Comedy Central. They said ‘Do you want to tour on your own?’ I said, ‘Sure, but good luck,’ ” Black said, saying he doubted that anyone would be interested. “People started showing up.” A few years later he was doing a benefit show in front of 8,000 people in a hockey rink in St. Louis with Vince Gill as an opening act. “To follow Vince Gill is as mainstream as you get,” he said.
That’s not to say he’s toned down his ire, not when the carousel of political absurdity is displayed with breathless conflict on cable news all hours of the day. Black is often categorized as a liberal comedian and commentator, but that’s not quite right: like the “Daily Show” in general, Black doesn’t target his barbs at Republicans, religion, conservatives or Democrats specifically, but rather at the overall inanity of the level of public discourse today and the ridiculousness of the system overall.
Even on the phone, some of his comments are punctuated with his trademark angry screech that sounds his voice is being squeezed through a cheese grater.
“We are now maybe possibly one of the stupidest countries on planet Earth,” he said, referencing the recently passed health care legislation. “We win. Our inability to come up with a health care plan for ourselves without it turning into a battle is appalling. We’ve now reduced it to one side is a group of idiots; one side is a group of fruitcakes.”
“How is it easier for us to go to war not being sure if there are weapons of mass destruction? That’s simple,” he said. “But us taking care of ourselves is nearly impossible.”
As for his first appearance in Savannah, Black has high hopes.
“I’m looking forward to coming down there,” he said. “And I hope that Joe’s in the audience.”