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Black’s ready to rant

Stand-up veteran will bring no shortage of opinions when he takes the INB stage

Lewis Black brings his “The Rant is Due” tour to Spokane on Sunday night. (Associated Press)
Lewis Black brings his “The Rant is Due” tour to Spokane on Sunday night. (Associated Press)

If you’ve ever seen Lewis Black on TV, whether it be one of his frequent appearances on “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” or on one of his many Comedy Central stand-up specials, odds are he was angry about something – fuming, cursing, gritting his teeth and making wild hand gestures for emphasis.

Asking Black, who comes to the INB Performing Arts Center on Sunday evening, about his material leads to the sort of free association tangent you might expect: He bounces from one hot-button topic – Obamacare, Congress, ebola, the wealthiest 1 percent, social media – to another with reckless abandon.

Eventually, he interrupts himself: “You know, when Amtrak – I mean, this is the kind of nonsense I’d normally do over the air, as opposed to here.” (He’s referring to, say, doing a radio interview as opposed to an interview that will be in print.)

But I let him continue with his thoughts on Amtrak, because how often are you afforded a personal rant courtesy of the Lewis Black?

Here are some of the best nuggets of wisdom I culled from our 20-minute phone conversation earlier this week:

• On whether he considers himself to be an angry person: “I consider myself to be frustrated and optimistic, because you can’t get this angry unless you believe (what you’re saying) could work.”

• On joking about American politics to European audiences: “They get it much more than we do. They watch us, and not the way we watch ourselves. We’re their Kardashians. … Americans don’t really enjoy the idea that there are other people out there watching them and laughing at them. We jut out our jaw and act with this self-confidence that we really don’t possess. We’re putting a mask on at times, and we know it.”

• On his transition from theater to stand-up: “I would do stand-up as a way of getting writing that I had done out, because if you wait around for a play to get done, you could be dead by the time they do it.”

• On his “Back in Black” segment on “The Daily Show,” which began in 1996: “I love it. I wish I could do more of it. If it was up to me, I’d do it every month, but Jon (Stewart) has a say in it. It’s pretty much the longest relationship I’ve had with anything.”

• On what makes him the angriest: “Television media doesn’t cover the news well or give us the information we need to make informed decisions. That really enrages me. I think our education system is shameful, and what we pay teachers is shameful. … And there needs to be a (financial) safety net. You can’t have the kind of wealth we have as a country and not provide that. But the list is endless. A lot of what I’m telling you is really what drives my material.”

• And as to whether he’d rather rile up and anger an audience or possibly enlighten them and change their worldview, Black says he has a much simpler goal in mind: make ’em laugh. “The worst thing is when I say something and they applaud,” he said with a laugh. “I’m there to entertain them. And sometimes I feel like I skip a beat and I’m not on my game. I’m madder than I should be, and I’m taking it too seriously.”

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