Listening to an angry 57-year-old white guy shout obscenities about his discontent with pretty much every aspect of Western civilization sounds more exhausting than entertaining, more frightening than funny. It definitely does not seem like an activity someone would partake in by choice. Yet for nearly a decade, a massive following of fans has chosen to be simultaneously horrified and humored by the rage-filled rants of Lewis Black.
Often dubbed "The Angriest Man in America," Black broke into the mainstream as a news commentator on Comedy Central's The Daily Show. His weekly segment, "Back in Black" -- a five-minute, verbal, Charles Bronson-like assault on anything from religion to reality television -- has been a staple of the critically acclaimed show since its inception in 1996. Each week, Black portrays a man only an outrage away from putting a bullet in everyone -- including himself.
Despite his achievements as a comedian, Black was originally hoping to find success in a different medium. A recipient of a master's in fine arts in drama from Yale University, the Maryland native was eager to become a playwright. The plan did not go as originally drawn up, and Black found himself an unemployed Ivy League graduate, about as common as unicorns living inside UFOs. Black's time on camera and on stage has allowed him to take out his frustrations about failure in the theater on everything and everyone, especially politicians.
For 250 nights a year on the road performing, Black, a self-proclaimed socialist, does not shy away from an opportunity to bitch-smack Republicans and Democrats alike. Both parties frequently feel Black's wrath, such as when he fulminated during his HBO special, Black on Broadway. "Republicans are the party of bad ideas, and Democrats are the party of no ideas," Black said. And while Black the taxpayer may suffer, Black the comedian will never be hurting for material. Oh, the humanity! Black performs at 8 p.m. Saturday at the Parker Playhouse (707 NE State St., Fort Lauderdale). Tickets cost $37.50. Call 954-763-2444, or visit www.ticketmaster.com. -- Tim Hammill
McCarthy Beats the Crowd into Laughter
Not many comedians claim to be "the funniest man in Rhode Island," but that is indeed among the accolades belonging to Mike McCarthy, a.k.a. "The Comedy Barbarian." You might ask what being a comedy barbarian entails. Well, you certainly don't earn the title by being subtle. For those who haven't caught his numerous appearances on Showtime and A&E, McCarthy's style is a no-topic-off-limits, politically incorrect barrage of rapid-fire wit. On his website, thecomedybarbarian.com, McCarthy states his mission: "I'm just trying to save the world with beer, ganja, and really good dick jokes." Yep, that sounds about right. McCarthy has performed alongside cutting-edge comics like Mitch Hedberg and Bill Hicks. Those comics, sadly, are no longer among the living. But if their brand of comedy is your cup of tea, McCarthy should be worth a belly laugh or three. Because you never know when a comic's about to buy the farm, you'd better catch the wild man this weekend... just in case. McCarthy busts out the barbarism tonight through Saturday at the New York Comedy Club (8221 Glades Rd., Boca Raton). Tickets cost $5 to $12. Call 561-470-6887, or visit www.nyccboca.com. -- Lewis Goldberg
Rudy Can't Die
Skankin' with the undead
Like a two-tone zombie standing at rock 'n' roll's cemetery gates, ska just won't die. This Thursday, the Ska Is Dead Tour careens its carcass over to the Culture Room (3045 N. Federal Hwy., Fort Lauderdale). Now in its third year, perhaps the tour should be renamed the Ska Went Back Underground Tour, because the scene's not really dead; it's just not as trendy. The current tour drops off four decidedly non-emo bands, starting with Gainesville natives the Know How (who have more alumni than Menudo and bounce like whack-a-moles on stage), Canadian veterans the Planet Smashers (who skank with a smile) and the Supervillains (who tour endlessly to bring back the good name of ska). And as usual, the tour is headlined by the grandpas of ska revival, the Toasters. Perhaps if more ska vocalists had solid abs and a sports bra like Gwen Stefani, they'd still be in the Top 40. Doors open at 7 p.m.; tickets cost $14. Call 954-564-1074. -- Jake Smith
Unseen -- but Definitely Heard
Say what you will about Massachusetts punkers the Unseen and their recent signing to Hellcat Records, a subsidiary of indie powerhouse Epitaph Records. The typical crybaby-punk response is that the band will lose its edge. The reality, however, is evident in the Unseen's new album, State of Discontent, a searing, 14-track collection of fast-as-shit hardcore. But it's a punk-based hardcore, rooted in early '80s British hardcore yet modernized with a tight rhythm section. And Mark Carlson's vocals are piercing enough to please kids reared on screamo; they'll even dig the balls-out cover of the Rolling Stones' "Paint It Black." It's fast, furious, and thoroughly focused -- quite an impressive feat for a group that used to joke about having attention deficit disorder. What were we talking about? Oh yeah -- the Unseen performs Wednesday with A Global Threat and Career Soldiers at the Culture Room (3045 N. Federal Hwy., Fort Lauderdale). Doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets cost $10. Call 954-564-1074. -- Jason Budjinski