September 28, 2021
Lewis Black Interview
Lewis Black: Bringing the Rant to Wind Creek Event Center on Oct. 8!
Interview by Lenora Dannelke exclusively for The Gay Journal
Known as the king of the rant, Lewis Black uses his trademark style of comedic yelling and animated finger-pointing to skewer anything and anyone that gets under his skin. His comedic brilliance lies in his ability to make people laugh at the absurdities of life, exposing the hypocrisy and madness he sees in the world. However, the almost obscenely upbeat name of his current tour – It Gets Better Every Day – leads The Gay Journal to wonder whether this rancorous talent still seethes with rage for our entertainment and edification.
The Gay Journal: It’s been more than two years you appeared at Wind Creek. Have you found anything to keep you angry during that time?
Lewis Black: Are you serious? Pretty much every day there’s something – just the fact that people have disregarded science and medicine, which I really didn’t think was possible.
TGJ: What impact has the pandemic had on touring?
LB: When I was sitting around putting my schedule together to hit the road again, I thought by that time in September seventy percent of the country would have had the vaccination – and not because Biden said so, let’s get that straight: I thought people were not dumb as posts.
TGJ: How does that influence your comedy?
LB: Here’s the level of my humor now: There’s a difference between freedom and health, and a difference between free and being healthy. And we know that because they’re spelled differently. It’s a knock-knock joke, for fuck’s sake. “I’m not getting the shot” or “I’m not wearing the mask because I need to be free.” What planet are you on? It keeps us from moving on, and how do those people miss this point? I think it’s a minority that’s been pushing that kind of agenda, and they do it by yelling. And that’s my job – to yell.
TGJ: When did you get jabbed?
LB: I got vaccinated in February because I’m older and in New York they were letting people go get vaccinated pretty quickly.
TGJ: You do a regular Lewis Black’s Rantcast, and readers can sign up for this ever-evolving dose of acrimony at www.lewisblack.com. They also get a chance to submit their own personal rant-worthy experiences. How did this popular podcast get started?
LB: For years we’re been filming every show I did, and at the end I wanted to do a Q&A with the audience. The only way we could do this was with an iPad so people could send in questions, then we were able to livestream it throughout the world. So there’s maybe twenty people watching it in the Philippines, four in Kenya or thirty-two in Amsterdam. I don’t have a TV show, so this is my TV show. It’s antiquated, like doing a TV show in 1951 where I’m standing in front of a mike and holding this iPad. And it grew from people asking questions to commenting on things to ranting. It evolved naturally. When it hit its stride about a year and half before the shit hit the fan, I tried to get folks who live in the area to submit rants – so if I’m in Bethlehem, it would be written by folks who live in Bethlehem or the geographic region. The level of writing became spectacular! And the Rantcast came out of that – so I had something to do and didn’t lose my mind. It gave me a comedy hookup.
TGJ: It sounds like having this outlet is kind of therapeutic to the fans sending you their rants.
LB: I think so, from what I gather from what I read from them.
TGJ: A clinical psychologist told me she recommends that clients watch the 2015 Disney/Pixar movie Inside Out, and reports that your role of Anger is “huge” with every age group. How do you feel about people connecting with that character?
LB: I’m honored. Doing a Pixar film…it doesn’t get any better than that in terms of animation. You may not get the pay you want, but you are getting immortality. And you get to work with some remarkably creative people and watch the process from beginning to end. It made me happy to be in something that I thought was important. It’s something that I wish I’d seen as a child – it’s a primer for young kids in terms of their feelings. I wasn’t really sure of what feelings were!
TGJ: Do you have any observations about the LGBTQ+ community that might have changed since the last time you were interviewed here?
LB: It’s been difficult because we’re not in the community, and the psychotic world of social media is a bit maddening. The big breakthrough, at lease in terms of what I was seeing, was gay marriage. It came a while ago, but what made it huge is that kids are living way ahead of their parents. They’re way past this in terms of gender fluidity. They’re evolved to a different place and they’re not so afraid of it. We’re emotionally stunted as a people so it’s taken a while. There’s a sense of “we’re not going to take it anymore” – we’re not going to be threatened anymore and we’re going to do everything we can to put laws in place to protect our community, the way you do in terms of all communities that needed to be protected until people went, “Oh, yeah.”
TGJ: Anything else you want our readers to know before your show?
LB: If I’m showing up it’s going to be as safe as it can be. And take care, get vaccinated and don’t listen to idiots.