The kids in the office were on me to interview Lewis Black, who rants and shouts once a week on Comedy Central's The Daily Show. "I hate that guy!" I yelled, launching into a really hilarious imitation of an incoherently sputtering, yelling angry guy. "He's just a dick."
"No, no," they all said. "You're not getting the joke. It's an act."
They just wouldn't let up, and I figured I could use the bread, so I called his publicist. I didn't let on that I would be ambushing her client with really mean questions. Oh, no. I was very fake.
So naturally, Black is my new best friend. He's the best guy ever. He is smart. He is kind. He is humble. He is political. I want him to marry my mother.
As is usual with my interviews, I did most of the talking. This makes for very bad interviews. I'm sorry.
OC Weekly: [very fake and sweet] I've noticed you're very angry. Is everything okay?Lewis Black: Yeah. How's your blood pressure?
The blood pressure's fine. I think it's very healthy to get to do that once a day. It's pretty healthy. And fun.
Was your parents' marriage a happy one?
Yeah. Fifty-three years now. Weird, isn't it? My anger is for the stage.
Okay, that's pretty much all the questions I had.
So that's it?
No. Now we go freeform. [long silence] So, my friends wanted me to interview you because they love you, but I said you were a dick.
A dick? Really? That's odd. Nobody's ever said that before.
Are you xenophobic?
What's that mean?
That you don't like foreigners. Like when you make fun of Chinese music, telling the Chinese to get some rhythm.
No, I'm not xenophobic. I like foreigners fine. I don't like idiots. You know, you've busted my whole theory of TV. It started with the Watergate hearings, with Haldeman and Erlichman; it's continued with George W. Bush. On TV, he comes across as arrogant.
Hey, who do you have to blow to get on TV? [This is a very funny reference to a joke he overused about Monica Lewinsky hosting Saturday Night Live.]
No. It's, "Now I know who I have to blow." See, that's a big difference.
So what's the theory of TV?
Well, I don't think TV lies. But under that theory, I come over as a dick.
Are you hating anybody right now?
Well, I think the list of candidates is utterly appalling. I keep thinking, "Someone has to rise from the muck." But nobody does. It's the worst group of candidates ever.
You know he can't be president. He is a profoundly proficient bureaucrat. He's exceptional at it. But I have no desire to watch him lead.
I think that's a bad rap. I saw him address the AFL-CIO at the '96 convention, and he was hilarious. Everyone was in stitches.
Well, I'd like to see him do more of that. But I haven't seen any charisma out of him.
I think charisma in a president is dangerous. Look at Reagan.
Charisma can provide direction. I don't believe Reagan did that, but I watched it with Kennedy. He said, "We're going to space, and we're putting a man on the moon." And we did it. Nobody since has had the same effect. I don't think charisma has to be a scary component.
Are you watching the debates?
Yeah. The Bradley/Gore debates were like watching a stroke unfold. I watch every chance I get.
I love the Republican debates.
They're good for entertainment. Especially Keyes. Why don't we just have a law where you can punch a poor person every day?
Goddamn poor people. What about Bush?
You know, 38 percent of the American people think he's his father.
You know, it's supposed to be this dynasty, but nobody particularly liked his dad in the first place.
Hello! All you need to know is that he's governor of Texas. That's enough.
I consider redneck-baiting to be racist. "Oh, Southerners live in trailers and fuck their sisters! Haw!"
It is racist. But the thing with the Confederate flag in South Carolina. It was raised in the '60s to protest integration of the schools. And not one Republican has come out against it. It's unbelievable. "Let the states decide." No. We have stupid states. It was only three years ago that Mississippi voted for the constitutional amendment to abolish slavery!
The other thing about Bush is you can see when his talking points click in his head when someone asks him a question. He gets real excited, like he's about to hump your leg.
Oh, that's good. That's very good.
You may use it. What else are you hating right now?
I'm frustrated. That's a big difference from "hateful." I hate ignorance. And I have huge trouble with authority figures. My main problem with authority is they don't know how to facilitate. Look at the contracts CEOs are awarding themselves.
Oooh. I saw this great thing about the Big Three automakers. Detroit is now a ghost town. And Ford alone has more than 50,000 workers in Mexico making an average of $2 per hour. But the cars aren't any cheaper.
Of course not.
So what are you talking about onstage lately?
Politics. You have to watch out. Like with Quayle: these people do come back.
And as elder statesmen! I'm sorry I thought you were a dick.
You're the first one.
The others were just kissing your ass. But I was being a hypocrite. I'd only seen the segment, like, once. [Long rambling dissertation, excised, on the evils of my government-monopoly-granted cable company and why I refuse to pay extra for Comedy Central out of principle.]
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I'm gonna send you $36. [Long rambling dissertation, excised, on how this has not been a "funny" interview.]
Hey, who do you have to blow to get on Saturday Night Live?
No. It's, "Now I know who I have to blow to get on Saturday Night Live."
Lewis Black performs at the Irvine Improv, Irvine Spectrum, 71 Fortune Dr., Irvine, (949) 854-5455. Thurs., Feb. 24, 8:30 p.m.; Fri., 8:30 & 10:30 p.m.; Sat., 7, 9 & 11 p.m.; Sun., 8 p.m. $12-$15.