Lewis Black is the only one Daily show contributor to appear alongside all past and present hosts: Craig Kilborn, Jon Stewart and Trevor Noah. “And the ones they want to bring in next”, he jokes on this week’s episode. The last laugh Podcast.
The comedian has delivered his signature “Back in Black” segment hundreds of times over the past two and a half decades, the latest roast from New Yorkers – like him – who escaped the city during the pandemic. Currently, Black is locked up in North Carolina and is driving himself insane.
It’s been about seven months since he last took the stage for a standing comedy. Now that latest show has become his final special, available to stream now on iTunes and other platforms. Recorded Friday, March 13 at a Michigan casino, it is the first special stand-up to respond to what was then total coronavirus panic.
“Everything was starting to shut down,” says Black. “We were in a casino, not in one of your strongholds of health. It’s not like a health center. As the show’s time approached, he thought it might be canceled, but people kept “pouring in” so he decided to continue with another show while he still could.
Black improvised the opening line that became the title of the special: “Thanks for risking your life.”
During our lengthy conversation the morning after the first presidential debate, Black denounced President Trump’s deep moral flaws, his tenure at times difficult to The daily show and other memorable moments in his career, including his first USO tour with Robin Williams, Kid Rock and Lance Armstrong and the lasting impact of personifying anger in Pixar Upside down.
Highlights of our conversation are below and you can listen to it all right now by subscribing to The last laugh on Apple podcasts or wherever you listen to podcasts.
On the verge of being kicked out of ‘The Daily Show’
“When Jon [Stewart] came, there were a few producers who wanted to get rid of me. They just didn’t understand me. I felt that I was not one of them. And it really made me psychotic. I didn’t know at the time what was going on, but they cut off the lines I had written. “It’s not funny. So I got fired as a writer and thought about leaving, and then I thought, what the fuck the fuck? What are you stupid? It’s a very good concert. If they want to write the stuff, that’s fine. And if they can’t write to you, fine. You will play it and make it yours. At that time, most people who can write well knew how to write for me. It is not difficult to write for a barking dog. Jon really was – and not to discredit him – but he’s a micro-manager. Not a bad micro-manager. He’s a very good micro-manager. But that didn’t leave much room. So the choice was that I could be a part of the show, but they chose what the topic would be. Everything was going very well because in the meantime I was getting a raise every year.
Why he avoided Trump phone calls after scathing “ Daily Show ” article
“His assistant contacted my assistant and said, can we set up a conversation? And I was like, really? What does he want? I think The apprentice was on and i don’t want to be on The apprentice. I just didn’t have time to speak. So at first I just went, you know well, maybe tomorrow we’ll try to get him called back. So they call back the next day and say, “We would really like to talk to Lewis, when would be a good time?” And I was like, I don’t think I have time to talk to him at all, we’re going to have to push this down the road. And then they got in touch again and I said, “Just tell him, I don’t want to talk to him.” Because what I finally realized was I didn’t want him to feel just because he picked up the phone and called me so that I had to talk to him. I didn’t want to give him a sense of entitlement. But you know I wouldn’t have gotten to that kind of thought if I hadn’t had three days to go, this guy is supposed to be an entrepreneur, a businessman, a tycoon, how did he more time in the day than me?
When Lance Armstrong tried to shame him on their USO tour
“Lance, on this trip, if I remember correctly, took a picture of me on the seven or eight hour flight. My stomach was kinda stick out and he took a picture of that and showed me the picture and he said, ‘You know one of the things I’m going to do on this trip is I’m going get in shape. ‘And I was like,’ You know what, Lance, one of the things you have to understand is that this body is a vessel that’s been loaned to me. I’m not really here. So you can try to shape whatever you want. But I really don’t care. So I kind of took him out of the medical kick. He was very strange. Really strange. And at that time, it was not exposed. And the troops loved him. They adored him. But he would do terrible things. Later this guy has a magazine and Lance is on the cover and he wants him to sign it. And [Armstrong] looks at him and says, “Wow, my God, I don’t have this one.” It’s really great, thank you. And he takes it.
What playing Anger in Pixar’s ‘Inside Out’ meant to him
“People are like, ‘Oh, you must have made a billion dollars.’ No, you don’t. But what they tell you, and it is true, is, “We have given you immortality.” And I will take this. I wish that [Inside Out] had existed when I was a child. Because I think it opened a door to emotion, to which really, my generation, a little less than my parents but still, did not have access. And then we’re done, you know, going to shrink. Because then the kids started saying things like “I feel red today, I feel blue today”. It gave them a way to start defining how they feel. It is enormous. So being able to send that to kids is what’s important to me. The most important thing you do is take what you have learned and pass it on. You are not doing this.
Next week on The last laugh Podcast: Actor and co-host of ‘Politically Re-Active’ Podcast Hari Kondabolu.
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