By Jim Hagerty
Comedian, actor and author Lewis Black brings his 2014 “The Rant is Due” tour to Rockford’s Coronado Performing Arts Center Sunday, May 11.
Known for a spirited brand of humor sparked by decades of off-the-cuff political analysis, Black has earned a number of monikers, including “mean-spirited curmudgeon.” None shake the 65-year-old, who got his start as a satirical playwright in the early ’80s.
Being outspoken, he says, is a product of an upbringing in Silver Spring, Md., the north sliver of Washington, D.C. There, he witnessed the workings of the 1950s and ’60s political powerhouses and the famous Three Martini Lunch.
By the time he entered the University of Maryland, eventually graduating from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Black amassed a treasure trove of comedic material.
“I’m pretty fortunate,” Black said. “I’m fortunate because I remember when alcoholics ran the country better than the people running it today.”
A Grammy Award-winner, Black has publicly criticized an array of political leaders, leaving few out. He rarely minces words; he throws the red-face frazzle in for free.
“I’ve been up close and I’ve seen real stupidity in action,” he said. “What’s been amazing to watch is our government basically devolve. We’re now left with a band of endorphin-ridden freaks.”
Although he considers himself a socialist, Black has little faith the system will catch on in the United States. It makes too much sense, he says. Regardless, the concept lends to a barrage of jokes he believes centers on incorrect, Red Scare-like associations.
“When you say you’re a socialist, it gets people all upset,” Black said. “I don’t understand that, because essentially my party doesn’t exist. What is everybody worried about?”
Black is also quick to dispel the notion that President Barack Obama (D) is running a socialist White House. It’s not that he doesn’t support the idea. The evidence just isn’t there, he said.
“I know Obama isn’t a socialist because he never shows up at our wiener roasts,” he said. “There’s only seven us sitting around roasting hot dogs. Socialism has been defeated because it requires too many meetings to pull off. It’s like a constant co-op meeting. Who wants to do that?”
Aside from what he calls a perpetual tour, Black has been a frequent guest on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, among others. His numerous DVDs and Comedy Central, HBO and History Channel specials are popular across a wide audience. Black won Grammy Awards for Best Comedy Album in 2007 and 2011.
From 2005 to 2007, he hosted Canada’s World’s Stupidity Awards, where he crowned U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and former President George W. Bush the “Stupidest Man of the Year.”
“I understand government overreach,” Black said. “I get it. But, right now, we have leaders who are actually able to get people to work against their own self-interests. They are diametrically opposed to what will help them. We really need to get back to a generosity of spirit and community or I am going to continue to make a very good living.”
Show time is at 8 p.m. Tickets are available through Ticketmaster or by calling the Coronado Box Office at (815) 968-0595. The Coronado Performing Arts Center is at 314 N. Main St., Rockford.