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Lewis Black Talks Girl Scouts, Gin, and Giant Helpings of Pork

The legendary comedian also touches on his new comedy special and answers our favorite 10 questions.

(Photo: Clay McBride)

You started touring as a comedian a little later in your life, but you’re still well over 20 years into your career. So why are you still funny?

If knew that, my career would have started 20 years before that!

Your new special, Old Yeller, will air simultaneously on all PPV and VOD carriers. Why did you choose that instead of a classic comedy special?

Every time I was doing a comedy special from the time I started doing them, each one had more of a lag time. So when I was doing the short ones for Comedy Central, they were quick and done and up. And then as I started doing the longer form with HBO, they kind of came out a little later, and then the last few, it holds for six months. You’re in another century after six months. I was talking about iPhones and Droids, and by the time it got on the air, Droid was starting to be nonexistent. So what I really wanted to with this last one was a live or pay-per-view or something that would get it across earlier. So that’s really the reason. And I couldn’t go strictly the internet route because then I’d miss a chunk of my audience who aren’t going to tune in. I got this audience that’s like from 15 to 90. Some of those people are just not going to do it. So this way I can cover some of those bases. In some ways this thing could have been shot – it will be a better show in a sense – but it also could have been shot five months ago.

What was your favorite political story this year, in terms of material you could squeeze out of it?

There are so many. The one that I read at the end of the act is the one in which the guy wouldn’t sign a petition – it was an Indiana Representative in the Indiana Congress kind of thing – and he wouldn’t sign a petition honoring the 100th anniversary of the Girl Scouts because he felt that they were a radicalized organization. I think that kind of sums up everything. You know, it was like the quintessential moron. If there is a story to the year, where you kind of go, "Wow. Could they get stupider?" this is it. I always see September as the start of next year and the state of North Carolina – where I’m from – came up with this insanely restrictive voting law yesterday. I mean, what country ever tries to prevent people from voting? And a state where there’s been five cases of voter fraud! You can’t get people to vote! Oh this voter fraud – I mean, please stop it! It’s just so mean-spirited and dumb. I was thinking, it’s a good idea to stop people from voting in North Carolina if they’re just going to elect idiots!

Who are your biggest influences, comedy or otherwise?

Inside, it would be Carlin, Pryor, Lenny Bruce – and then guys like Shelley Berman and Bob Newhart. Then outside of it, it was like – not really, because he kind of straddles it – Paul Krassner who was the editor of The Realist and does a lot of satirical writing. He’s very funny. And then there is Kurt Vonnegut. Joseph Heller’s Catch 22. A Thousand Clowns by Herb Gardner. Those are the guys – but I could list a dozen more. Guys who really had that jaundiced view of things. It’s the one thing that kind of got me through high school.


Is doing your act the ultimate stress-relief? Does it help your day-to-day mindset?

Yeah, a lot of the stress relief is also – it’s not just getting out the stress of living in a world that seems to be getting madder by the minute, but it is also the stress release of dealing with something like when you mail something out and it didn’t get to who it needed to get to, you know what I mean? You FedEx something and it didn’t arrive. There are 642 things that anybody goes through in a day that drives them fucking nuts. So a lot of the times I may be on the stage screaming about something that seems like a big political issue – I may be screaming about anything. I’m not really screaming about that though, I’m screaming because there’s a leak in my bathroom.

(Photo: Clay McBride)

AND NOW: The Same Ten Questions We Always Ask Everyone!

What was the last thing you had to apologize for?      

God. Usually I’m too tired to apologize. The past week has been so busy, I couldn’t fuck up. It was showing up late for something. I should have been there a half hour before.

What’s your favorite curse word/phrase?

Fuck, without a doubt. Best word ever.

What’s the worst hangover you’ve ever had?

There’s a serious competition, but probably when I was 15, and it was the night before Thanksgiving. We were at a friend’s in the basement partying. It was probably my first – for a long, long time – my first and only experience with gin. I’ve come back to it. You always return, but it took a long time for me to get over it. You can really go bad with gin.

What was your first car?

My first car was a really ugly army green Ford Fairlane – like ’67, ’66. They don’t even make that shit anymore.

Do you have a scar that tells a story?

None. This is how sad my life is: I got a scar from scratching my chicken pox too much. That’s my big scar story. I really have no major scars.

Do you have a party trick?

No, I’m not good with that stuff. Magic and all that stuff – no. I don’t have the wherewithal. I don’t have that hand-eye coordination.

What’s the biggest thing you’ve ever put in your mouth?

Too much of a slab of pork. It was at somewhere in the city. What do you call that – the Spanish version of it – not the BBQ pork but…Fuck. This is so sad, my memory is like charades now. It’s not roast pork. I just saw it again last night. It’s the world's best pork, outside of BBQ pork. It still has the fat on it. I didn’t realize how much I was putting in my mouth. You can never put too much pork in your mouth as far as I’m concerned.

What’s the one thing to remember in a fist fight?

Run! I was hit once in the nose and I hit someone once in my life, and that was it. And I was like, why would you want to do this? I was 11 when I hit a friend of mine. Then when I was 16, we started boxing in my basement, and within three minutes someone hit me in the nose and I took off the gloves and said “fuck this.”

Who was the last person to see you naked?

Me. I can’t really say. There are so many. [Laughs]


Finish this sentence: If I ruled the world for a day, I would… 

Wow. If I ruled the world for the day I would give everyone the day off and send everyone who is an authority figure on any level - anyone who is a CEO or anywhere from congressional to town council, city council, Congress, state legislatures - to a camp to learn to delegate authority and to fucking wake up. I always have hope, like, maybe if you teach them... That comes from the idiotic time when I was in school – "Yeah, you can teach them. People will change." Fucking morons. 

Want more comedy interviews? Check out Tom Papa and David Koechner.