by Ryan Meehan
Lewis Black is as angry as ever in his new uncensored CD “Lewis Black: In God We Rust”, available on Comedy Central Records this September 11th. Black rose to fame as a correspondent on The Daily Show, dating all the way back to when the program was hosted by Craig Kilborn. His take-no-prisoners style of random hate spewing is very reminiscent of a lot of the comedians that were popular in the late eighties and early nineties. I hear a lot of various influences from that era in Lewis’ work, most notably Bill Hicks, Denis Leary, George Carlin, and Andrew Dice Clay. His critiques of religion, government, and the repetition of everyday life have made him popular amongst his peers and anybody in general who has had enough of the bullshit they have to shovel on a daily basis. That being said, it’s no surprise that Lew is releasing his new CD on 9/11.
The disc was recorded at the historic State Theatre in Minneapolis, and proves that Black is definitely more of a theater performance type of comedian now that he’s older. The pace of his act isn’t really conducive to a club setting, as he works much slower to get to stronger punchlines about more serious topics. It’s an interesting commentary on how standup comics age, as just about every one of them has to work clubs before getting to the level of a Lewis Black or a Robin Williams. It’s aimed more at the generation that is young enough to have not been alive when Orson Welles used a seemingly prehistoric medium to scare us into thinking that alien being had invaded earth, but old enough to have remembered the Vietnam War and what life was like before we had all of these ridiculous technological manifestations that now rule our world. That dependence on the aforementioned products of the digital revolution is just one of the many topics discussed in Lewis Black’s “In God We Rust”.
FOH FIRST LISTEN: LEWIS BLACK – “IN GOD WE RUST” AVAILABLE 09/11/12
The disc begins with no intro, something that I happen to really be a fan of. Sometimes you get a new comedy CD and there’s about 45 seconds to a minute and a half of cheering after the comedian is announced, and that can be a bit tiresome. It also doesn’t really serve any purpose and unless the comic leads with some bit that’s related to that intro, it’s useless to press to disc. Black gets right down to business explaining to the audience that if they’re not familiar with his body of work, that this could be “a very long night”. After a brief travel story, he explains to the crowd that as he gets older he has dropped holidays from his calendar that he believes don’t apply to him anymore – and it made me happy to know that the one he chose to speak of is Valentine’s Day. It’s about good goddamn time somebody brought this up. Not only are there way too many “holidays” on Hallmark’s twelve month schedule of made-up bullshit, Valentine’s Day is pretty much put in February because there’s no other holiday in that month. Black discusses this as well as how silly it is that they had to put the holiday just a month and a half after Christmas, when you have already likely showered the one you love with gifts.
Black then focuses his energy to the war on terror and how neither Democrats or Republicans did enough to prevent the terrorist attacks in 2001 that would change the way we look at our world forever. He then explains that one of the reasons we as Americans are not better holding such politicians responsible for their failures is that we are distracted by all of the garbage media that sticks to our proverbial windshield while driving along the road of life. There’s some debate as to whether or not those two things are related, I’m not a conspiracy theorist myself but there may be something to that. (There also may NOT be, and it just could be that in a very garbage world we are constantly bombarded with garbage that’s unrelated to the current political state so people believe that they are related even though it could possibly just be a coincidence)
Most of this album (and Black’s act in general) deals with the many frustrations that Lewis experiences in his life and the next several bits are certainly representative of why some of the older comedy consumers are such big fans of his work, as they center around technology. Black explains that he used to be an iPhone owner, and eventually left AT&T because he said that they were a carrier “much in the same way that a mosquito carries malaria”. Since I work in the wireless industry, these were my favorite bits on the disc. LB eventually left AT&T to get a plan with Verizon and become the proud owner of a Droid. I saw a lot of similarities between my mother’s own personal struggles learning to use a phone like this, and have come to agree with Black’s theory that where all of these cell phone companies are going wrong with these devices is that they were supposed to be cell phones FIRST, and that all of the other “features” that come with them are pushing the importance of actual telephone conversation further and further into the depths of the eighth level of hell. Lewis transitions nicely into using this as just one of the many examples of how he is getting and feeling older everyday, and about how one reason that this occurs is because we as a society hear the same arguments over and over again. Most of these arguments sound exhausting just typing them for that reason, and we all know what issues he’s speaking of: Gay marriage, health care, and of course my personal favorite-abortion. After he’s done scolding the country’s lack of ability to come together and rationally resolve such topics, you had to know that with of all the other disturbing aspects of modern day culture Lewis was eventually going to get to Facebook sooner or later. He discusses the absurdity of how a place that isn’t real became a multibillion dollar publicly traded institution, as well as the pitfalls of virtual farming. I can honestly say that although we all lived in a world just a few years back where we thought MySpace would always be the biggest thing in the world, it’s starting to become apparent that Facebook is beginning to run its course. To be honest, I rarely even use that website anymore for any reason other than to promote the articles you read here. It’s glad to see that people of all ages are finally realizing that the internet isn’t this magical wonderland that is going to save the tech sector.
The CD ends with Lewis discussing something that those of us who have a vested interest in politics have dreamed about for many years: A Third Party. Black goes on to explain his general frustration with the fact that he waited his entire life for this to happen, and the Tea Party is all he received in return. That’s a very anticlimactic end to the story when you consider that Ralph Nader was virtually ignored during his recent political ventures, yet now we see information about the Tea Party on just about every cable news channel. It certainly wraps up the CD well given that frustration is the main emotion expressed in Black’s work.
What’s important to remember here is that Black is more of a thinking man’s comic as opposed to someone that is standing on stage just to tell jokes. Black would much rather get you with a bit that’s well constructed and makes you see the whole spectrum then just hit you with a few zingers that you’ll forget in the morning. Lewis’ comedy makes sure that you remember his ideals and thoughts well into the next day. He dishes out some of the harshest criticisms available in the comedy game, and I have to give it to him…he’s an equal opportunity employer when it comes to letting both parties know that he is far from impressed with their shit…It’s nice to hear from an individual that clearly works for a liberal network bash both sides with equal hatred. Even if this CD doesn’t have you falling out of your seat with laughter the entire 75 minutes, it will at least make you think which is what performance art is really supposed to do.
Make sure to also catch the Network Television premiere of “Lewis Black: In God we Rust” debuting Friday, September 7th at Midnight EST/ 11 CST on Comedy Central, and pick it up on DVD the following Tuesday.
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