For someone whose career is fueled by anger, Lewis Black is a swell dude. Naturally, our conversation drifted toward hedgehogs, golf, and his usage of a sensitive word.
Hello, is this Mr. Black?
I hope so.
Have you been to the Northwest?
Yes, I like Washington state.
Does your show change depending where you go?
No, only if there’s a topic I know people are going to react to before they hear what I’m saying. All I got to do is mention guns in parts of the country and they’re going to stop listening, because they think you’re going after their guns. You’ve got to find sneaky ways to get at it.
My favorite part of the show is the Q&A segment. What’s the weirdest question you’ve been asked?
They ask if I have any advice for getting married. I was married for about 10 minutes; obviously I can’t give you advice. Part of the reason I like it is because people send in things I haven’t seen. There was a teacher who had a student with a hedgehog as a service animal. That was nuts. I can’t imagine what neurosis or condition you’d have that a hedgehog would calm you down.
You’re a big golfer; are you going to hit Chambers Bay while you’re here?
Yeah, or at least I’ll go see it. It’s pretty astonishing, but I don’t know if I can walk it. It’s insane! It’s way long, and you don’t have a cart. I’ll be dead by the fifth hole.
Does your golf game cause anger?
It used to make me angry; now I realize I’m golf’s bitch. Golf owns me, and I accept that golf is my master.
You play Anger in Pixar’s Inside Out; any childhood memories that stand out?
We took this great trip to Key West, Florida. I was about 11 and hadn’t been in the water before, so that was really something.
Can you swim?
Sorta. I like water, but I had ear infections as a kid and you shouldn’t go in the water if you have ear infections. I snorkel now, but if you say, “Let’s go out on a boat to 800-foot-deep water to see fish,” screw you!
So you didn’t want to be a pirate as a kid?
No, I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I knew I didn’t want to work, so I’ve achieved that.
Was it frustrating to learn your anger made other people laugh?
It was great because it created my career, but it took me a long time to realize that. When comics start out, the biggest problem they have is they’re funny when they’re sitting around, and when they get on stage they forget why they were funny. It took a while for me to find what worked.
Any other comedians we should look out for?
People need to pay more attention to my friend Kathleen Madigan, who’s really terrific.
Ever concerned about not being politically correct?
If I come up with a good joke, I’ll cross any line. I use a word that a lot of people don’t like — retarded. I use it the way it’s supposed to be used: for adults who should know better. When they do something really stupid, they are retarded. That’s not something that has to do with someone who is mentally challenged. There are people with special needs, and then there are people who should know better.
I know a special education teacher. He completely agrees with you.
You know what’s amazing? (He) knows the difference, because he works with kids with special needs, but I bet he knows people he works for who are retarded.
Donald Trump is running for president; are you excited about the comedic material this gives you?
I think it’s depressing he’s running. People like him are what created The Daily Show, Stephen Colbert’s show, John Oliver’s show. Those shows allow you to step back from what’s been happening and act as a filter to help you take a breath before s**t hits the fan again. Sometimes they’re better than the news, because they pinpoint what’s wrong when there’s so much information. It’s hard to get facts anymore.
Where do you get your news?
I read The New York Times. When you called I had CNN on, and I’ll watch that until I get enraged. I get more enraged over their coverage than the actual news.
After doing your show, do you have a favorite snack?
No, I usually eat dinner afterward, because I don’t like to eat before shows. It slows you down, so I eat dinner after, which probably isn’t great for weight.
Don’t worry, you look great.
Thank you! You get free tickets.
Why should people see the show?
We’re entering a phase of people running for office who are idiots on levels that are unimaginable, and you’re going to need to have someone out there venting for you.