Daily life provides endless material for his comedic rants
There's always something or someone stupid enough to aggravate Lewis Black. All you have to do is ask.
Place: Blaisdell Concert Hall
Time: 7:30 p.m. Sunday
Tickets: $25 to $45
"It's more generalized today," the 57-year-old comic said last week from his home in New York when faced with the question. "Actually, I was on the phone (with) Playboy. They're running a thing about evolution, so I was yelling and screaming about that."
He's one of the "50 Funniest People in America," according to Entertainment Weekly. CNN has crowned him "The Angriest Man in America," and his own Web site dubs him "America's Foremost Commentator on Everything."
But Black has never visited Hawaii, and isn't sure how long he'll last among the sun and surf.
"I couldn't live in a place like Hawaii," he said. "It's nice all the time there. And when it's nice all the time, if you're depressed, then it's actually your fault!"
BLACK KNOWS depression from experience. He spent most of the '80s as manager of a theater company in Hell's Kitchen, N.Y.
Despite earning a master's degree in fine arts from Yale University, writing more than 40 plays and struggling to gain recognition and acceptance from his peers for more than a decade, he found life as a playwright "a desperate attempt to make as much as a migrant worker might in the same amount of time."
In 1987, towards the end of his management stint in New York, he started to take comedy more seriously. As master of ceremonies, Black would often start performances with a few minutes of improvisation before making way for other actors.
Three years later, a botched job opportunity in Texas provided the chance he needed to pursue stand-up comedy full-time.
ON STAGE HAWAII
Lewis Black started out as a playwright and eventually found his way to stand-up comedy.
"I had a play being done in Houston, and I thought ... I made it," he said. "But the whole experience turned me off so badly -- everything they told me was a lie.
"So I went across town to the comedy club and I auditioned. They hired me to be a headliner and invited me back six weeks later ... paying me the same amount of money in a week that I'd made in the three years it took me to write the play."
The first half of the 1990s saw Black touring the national comedy circuit and making a name for himself in Hollywood with bit parts in movies and on television. When he joined "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" in 1996, he gained new fans as viewers were exposed to his rants for the first time.
Those "Back in Black" segments, along with a string of appearances on "Late Night with Conan O'Brien" in the late '90s and specials on Comedy Central in 2000, 2002 and 2004, have made the comedian a hot commodity. Just a few weeks ago, he was even asked to serve as a guest anchor on the Weather Channel.
"I guess everyone else died," he said, with a laugh. "It's called the end of a wonderful career, I think. It's the Weather Channel, then Home Shopping Network, then I'm going to be selling some sort of cancer drug. I'll be doing the infomercials."
NOW THAT he's gotten people to listen, don't expect Black to shut up anytime soon.
"There's something irritating about everything," he said. "The only thing that tires me out is trying to keep up with it. It's like a deluge."
Most of his targets come from the political arena, an after-effect of growing up in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. Black's father designed defensive weaponry during World War II, and he spent his teenage years immersed in the anti-establishment counter-culture that flourished in the late 1960s. And although he lives in New York now, it's those Washington roots that help provide a distinctive filter on reality to everything around him.
"I think it would have changed me (growing up elsewhere)," Black said. "It was always in my face when I was a kid."
No topic is off limits during a performance, from religion and abortion to his involvement with something called the "Naked Teen Voyeur Bus" during a Big Apple visit by President Bill Clinton and his performance at a recent Congressional Correspondents' Dinner.
"That was a mistake," he said of the dinner gig. "I basically took my act and converted it. I used no profanity, and I took what would normally be biting, searing imagery and converted it all into a bunch of innocuous knock-knock jokes.
"But I talk about that. I like to bring it back to either something I've experienced or something that is just a little more human."