Lewis Niles Black is an American comedian, author, playwright, social critic and actor. He is known for his angry face, comedy & style, which often includes simulating a mental breakdown, or an increasingly angry rant, ridiculing history, politics, religion, trends and cultural phenomena. He hosted the Comedy Central series Lewis Black's Root of All Evil, and makes regular appearances on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart delivering his “Back in Black” commentary segment. When not on the road performing, he resides in Manhattan. He also maintains a residence in Chapel Hill, N.C. He is currently the spokesman for Aruba Tourism, appearing in television ads that aired in late 2009 and 2010. He was voted 51st of the 100 greatest stand-up comedians of all time by Comedy Central in 2004; and was voted 5th in Comedy Central's Stand Up Showdown in 2008 and 11th in 2010. Black serves as the American Civil Liberties Union's ambassador on voting rights.
• Maz Jobrani (Maziyar “Maz” Jobrani, also known as Persian Pink Panther, is an Iranian-American comedian and ac...)
• Harry Shearer (Harry Julius Shearer is an American actor, comedian, writer, voice artist, musician, author, radi...)
• Dan Mintz (Dan Mintz is an American comedian, voice actor and writer. He is best known for his role as Bob's...)» All Comedian Interviews
I'm angry and “Anger."
Today is the New Hampshire primary, let's talk about that and we can also talk about the Oscar-nominated film I was in, “Inside Out”
I got to get the fuck out of here and you guys have managed to not piss me off so that was great, bye
When it comes to acting for tv and movies, do you prefer physical acting or voice acting?
Is it difficult to censor yourself when doing more family friendly works like Inside Out? Like was the voice in your head screaming "SAY FUCK! SAY FUUUUCK!" when you were recording Anger?
And on a related note, what's your favorite Pixar movie?
Wow that's a lot lets start from the beginning...
I like both physical and voice acting. Voice acting in a sense is easier because someone else does all the physical work for you. The one thing that I learned from "Inside Out", animators are so extraordinary that the actors didn't need to be in the room together except Amy and Phyllis.
After seeing the final product, I realized it wouldn't have been better if we were in the room together.
Is it difficult to censor myself? Yea, no it's not a problem at all. My anger comes from...if it's family friendly I know what the boundaries are.
I'm partial to ours, I think in its total effect - "Inside Out", but I did like that Nemo fucker.
What makes you happy?
For you, sir
When this will be almost over...kidding.
Dinner with friends, playing golf or a great massage. No I don't need the happy ending you perverts.
You were a playwright for a long time. I looked online and can't find copies of your work. Are they available anywhere? Any in particular you would recommend reading?
Yea Dramatist Play Service has published "One Slight Itch" and I expect there to be a publication of my short plays soon. "Once Slight Itch" is interesting to read, if my name weren't on it you wouldn't believe I wrote it. It's a romantic comedy and a woman's play.
No I'm not transitioning.
What do you think of Donald Trump?
I think and I'm saying this as a friend. If you vote for him, or even think of voting for him: you're gonna go to hell.
And I know this because God told me.
Hello there, Mr. Black. Comedy is a difficult career path to follow in life and one faces many challenges while putting in their time. In your opinion, what is the biggest challenge comedians face in today's comedic landscape?
I think the same problem they've always faced which is...well part of it the biggest difficulty comics face has always been the same and that's finding your voice. Everything else comes second.
Certainly the internet has allowed an expansion of ways for a comic to be seen. I still believe a standup comedian has to actually stand up in front of a live audience night after night after night until they find their voice.
What actually makes you the angriest? What was your angriest moment and how did you survive without exploding?
Wow. Um. God there's so many. My angriest probably was when Nixon beat McGovern. That was when my anger had no bounds. It's in my book, I took a shit on the television set. I'd moved out of the house and never do it in my parents place.
I was probably just as a angry at the fact that I had no sense at all, that McGovern would lose but that he was gonna get crushed.
The second was when we decided to go to war in Iraq because my generation had learn absolutely nothing from Vietnam.
What is the worst city you have performed at?
They've all been pretty good.
Savannah, GA was the worst for a time because the audience for $10 had all the beer they could drink. This creates what I like to call 'audience psychosis', so there were a lot of drunks in the room. Never fun.
That policy has since been changed - so now it's a terrific place to perform.
What comedians do you currently think are funny?
My favorite is Kathleen Madigan. Dave Attell. There really are a lot and I feel bad when I miss out on naming them. Ted Alexandro, Jim Gaffigan, my opening act John Bowman. Mike Wilmot.
I literally could list another 25. Sadly I don't get to see as many young comic as I'm generally working too much.
Lewis, what should I do with my life?
I think you start by figuring out what you love to do most. Whether you're good at it or not or whether your parents say you should do it or not or anyone else who wants to give you their two fucking cents. You start there.
If you start there, you'll end up doing what you want to do with your life. And if there's nothing you love doing move and find a new life.
You may be in the wrong state.
Hello! Loved you in Inside Out. What was it like working alongside Bill Hader, Amy Poehler, Mindy Kaling, and the rest of the cast of Inside Out? What was the best part during the production for you?
The best part during production was lunch. Pixar has the greatest free lunch in the world.
If that kitchen had been the kitchen on my college campus I never would have left school.
They had EVERYTHING. I mean seriously, from quinoa to fucking the best burger on earth. You can either eat as healthy as you wanted or as shitty as you wanted. But its San Francisco and they're whiny.
I didn't work alongside anyone, it was just met and the folks - Peter Doctor and the guys at Pixar. But I did get to spend time with all of them on the press tour and that was just terrific. They're all really amazing people.
How do you deal with hecklers at stand-up?
I don't really have to do that much anymore, the audience helps a ton when it comes to that. Generally I just have to stare in their direction.
Do you think, that over time, you've become less angry with age, or just more pissed off?
Um I think I've become - some of it has just been launching me to appalled. What appalls me now? That apparently there's a group of people that think 1956 was a great year to live in.
A number of members of my generation are the equivalent of dinosaurs when adapting to new realities. I like to toughsty-shitsy.
Does a Pixar movie come with a hundred follow-up gigs/paycheques voicing toys and videogames and commercials and shorts - or is that all part of a package deal?
The film gets commercial play out of which the performers get more commercial play. Yes we get packages of Pixar goodies. As far as the residuals go, we get nothing from the merchandise. At least I don't - someone has a better contract than me. Its the way it is. You gotta understand, they spend 5 years making those films.
Apparently and this is nice: we achieve some form of immortality.
That's what they tell us.
Um, if I had to choose from anyone in the world, it would be The Pope.
Because he's the only one who has shown remarkable humility and when he stood in front of congress, he showed them to be the incompentents that they are. He quoted the Golden Rule and they stood an applauded as if they were hearing it for the first time.
Since I have to vote for someone born in the country, I've be voting for Bernie Sanders because I've been a socialist since I was 14. He's really the first candidate we socialists... all 12 of us have ever had.
If you could directly scream face to face to any person in the world with out threat of physical confrontation, who would it be?
Any person in the world? Whomever is in charge of ISIS. What a douchebag. I mean we're talking douchebag to the trillionth power.
I heard Apple was sniffing you out as the next spokesperson for the upcoming iPhone 7. Would you take the job?
That's the most insane thing I've ever heard. And yes I'd take the job. Who do I have to blow? I'd probably give half what they gave me to charity. Which is what you should do when you're thinking of buying a Valentine's present this year. Instead of jewelry give them to an organization who desperately needs it. If your GF whines about that you should probably get out of the relationship.
Which candidate is the most like Bing Bong?
Ben Carson. Only Bing Bong would be a better candidate.
I was a huge fan of The Root of All Evil and was bummed out it was cancelled so soon. Any chance you'll do something similar in the future or bring it back in some way?
No chance, Comedy Central probably thinks I'm too old to have a series, so it's not worth the fight. Besides, after every show that I do I have a Q&A that is streamed live on the internet or however you say it...and throughout the world. You can go to my website and find out about it. It's as close as I'm gonna get to tv show at this point, only its on a "computer", same screen. Fucking ridiculous.
Thoughts on Bernie? More to the point, who stands a chance at really addressing the campaign finance system, health care, college and pointless war? Also, when's the next special?
No one until the republicans in Congress get their shit together. They are letting the tail wag the dog.
What do you think of the idea of 'parallel thinking'? What about plagiarism? It's a tough issue when it isn't outright and obvious.
When it comes to comedy it is a tough issue. I'm lucky because I have no jokes that anyone wants to steal. Except I was bitching about Carlos Mencia. Joe Rogan was yelling about it and I was talking to my friend about it, cause I don't really know. I don't remember enough jokes to know if someone stole one.
Literally 3 days later, he opened a show with a joke of mine.
After GWB was out of office, I disengaged from following current events about 75% and the associated frustration about 95%. I was sort of burnt out on it. I felt a lot better, and obviously my getting angry had little effect on anything outside myself. Did you feel that same break at the same time? Is it hard to stay angry and engaged?
Wow, I find that what engages me is my anger. It's my link to all this nonsense. I'm not really so much angry as I am frustrated because we're better than this.
It doesn't help that any of our televised news seems to be clueless as to what news is.
If I have to listen to one more asshole commentator telling me what it is what I just saw with my own two eyes, I may be forced to tear out my own two eyes.
Did Bing-Bong make you cry?
Yes, no...maybe? It was very sad, it was extremely sad. I told the guys at Pixar, "We really need a kickass song after he dies or we're really gonna upset a lot of people."
You've been around. What are the 3 keys to a happy and successful life?
The 3 keys: Doing what you love to do. Learning to love yourself. Good health (or a good health plan)
What's your favorite memory of doing The Daily Show?
The check. I'm still on the The Daily Show by the way. There are too many to go into. It's just been a lot of fun - it's been almost 20 years. That's a lot of memories and I can't remember what happened yesterday.
Id love to hear you rant on about Trump and Hillary but mostly I also want to hear who you think some other solid candidates are (not necessarily Bernie, whoever you think is good)?
I feel like the top 3 candidates are two jokes and a senator from Vermont. Like obviously, of the tree, Id go with Sanders but it'd be nice to have some variety.
It'd be nice if there were people in positions by the time we got to the 4 year term limit, that's how they do it in other countries. We're the only that spends time watching morons learning to act Presidential whatever the fuck that means.
It's impossible to really discuss these candidates because these debates are shorter than the one I did to be the treasurer of my fucking high school.
If we have the attention span of the gnat, then the maybe the President should be a gnat.
If Donald Trump swore to remove all Starbucks across the street from other Starbucks through executive order, would you vote for him?
No. I wouldn't even vote for him if he had a gun to my head.
I always get you confused with Richard Lewis, do you ever have that problem?
No Richard and I oddly enough know who we are. He also is a very, very person that I could have mentioned earlier. I'm sure I'll get an email about it.
You were in Hannah and her Sisters!?!? A good excuse to go watch it again, one of the greats. Any memories of working on it?
I learned a great thing about, it was the first major film that I was in and I learned an extraordinary lesson from Woody Allen: he told Christian Clemenson, fuck I hope I get that fucking right, he told us that it was a rehearsal. We then rehearsed it again and again.
After the time 3rd time, he said "Ok we go it." and then said, that's the way I want you to treat all your scenes as if they are a rehearsal.
Not only did that relax me, I think it's a good approach to film acting.
What do you think of Seinfeld's Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee series? Are there any plans for you being guest?
They've said that I am, email him and let him know I'm available.
There's nothing on the Lewis Black Twitter or website about this AMA. Please provide proof.
I just posted it you fuck!