"The real world's now just like high school, only there are more places to eat," postulates comedian Lewis Black. Though statements like these usually induce laughter, there is a bedrock of common sense to his work, which can provide hilarious insight into the increasingly bizarre planet we live on. Observational comedy usually means Seinfeldesque snide remarks that begin with "What's the deal with..." But Black is observational comedy on speed. Whether it's politics or P. Diddy-customized Escalades, no subject is left unscathed by Black's tirades in both his standup act and his weekly Back in Blacksegment on Comedy Central's The Daily Show.
To write off Black as a political pundit would be naive, considering that his anger attacks all walks of life and facets of stupidity. "I read the New York Post, USA Today, and other stuff that tries to keep it simple," he states. "The way I approach it is I drown in it, and then all of a sudden I'll come up for air. With the war, I try to watch or read the guys who are the furthest out on the subject, because they are the ones who make you go, 'Hey, wait a minute. You guys really are crazy. '" Citing such right-wing ranters as Bill O'Reilly and Ann Coulter, along with Dubya, of course, provides Black with an abundance of material, especially in a tense period of war. "I don't think I've ever seen the country go into war with more mixed feelings," he says. "There was no need to go in -- and then to not bring in other countries, it was just ridiculous. It's like, 'No, just kill us!' The longer democracy evolves, the farther from reality the elected officials become. It's like they all took acid!"
The right wing's an easy target. But rather than claim liberalism, Black simply views himself as "just someone with common sense." Even though the Yale drama grad began his career as a playwright (more than 40 plays to his credit), it wasn't until he began performing his vitriolic comedy routines that he began to gain a following. After an assortment of late-night appearances, Black solidified himself as Comedy Central's go-to guy. With The Daily Show being perhaps the smartest show on TV, it's only fitting that Black's cynical yet truthful delivery bought him a regular gig among a crew of fellow smart-asses. "I don't even know if we're a source of news as much as a way of looking at it," he replies. "I mean, everything else is a barrage of information, and we end up acting as a filter."
But it's in standup that Lewis Black ultimately gets to let off steam, and nothing's safe from his acerbic wit. "The great thing is, I'm not on a meter at all," Black says. "Nobody's paying attention to me. I have an audience, but outside that, nobody pays attention. More and more adults come up to me saying their kids got them into watching me. I'm now the world's oddest family comic." -- Kiran Aditham