Comedian Lewis Black has a very easy job these days. "Where do you want to start? I don't even have to write anything anymore," he says incredulously. "All you have to do is print the headlines. It's beyond belief."
With help largely from Washington politicians, Black has a seemingly endless supply of new material. It might be bad for the country, but it's good if you're in the stand-up comedy business.
"Yeah, well, now is a good time," Black agrees. "I haven't been onstage in a while and there's just been a ton of stuff. It's been nonstop.
"I try to get a new act together every nine months." he says. "I work on bits that expand, but basically I try to make it new, so when I go back to a town 80 to 90 percent is new."
Currently Black is talking to audiences about things like "that State of the Union address, which was just tremendous. I was so glad to hear that everything is going to be OK. It's already started: Everything is working out the way it should," Black notes with his trademark sarcasm. "I'm so glad that (with the) 12,000 problems they have to deal with, (Republican Sen.) Bill Frist (says) they'll vote on gay marriage again!"
The lobbying scandal that erupted earlier this year has also gotten Black's attention. "The problem isn't so much the Republicans being idiots," he says. "(It's that) there's no coherent response from the Democrats. They catch these guys with Jack Abramoff and they finally put together something, McCain and whoever else, they respond, but that occurs so rarely. (And) the response is, 'It'll be two years until they can be lobbyists.' You know what? It should be no years. What's the matter with you people? It's like they just can't keep their fucking fingers out of a pie! It's like this is your job, this is what you do. If you think it's so fucking important, vote everybody raises and get some good people. Make it something people aspire to."
Certainly this is something we've heard for a long, long time, going back to at least the '60s.
"I think its gotten a bit worse as of late," Black contends, "but this no worse than what was up with Nixon and all of that crap of McCarthyism. There is always this thing where we slide into a complete malaise and end up watching the government run amok and then we rein it in again. We find five or six people who speak English and get them elected. And it kind of works for a while. But I'll tell you this: I've never seen, in my lifetime, this kind of utterly insane partisanship. They're crazy. They are. They are fucking out of their minds."
But it's not just politics that irks Black, as he explains the end of the universe. "Oddly enough, it's in Houston, Texas. I left the comedy club there one day and walked to the end of the block, and there on one corner was a Starbucks. And across the street from that: Starbucks. There was a Starbucks across from a Starbucks, and that, my friend, is the end of the universe."
Black has just released a comedy CD called The Carnegie Hall Performance, and has been keeping busy with other projects, which has kept him conspicuously absent from his weekly "Back in Black" gig on The Daily Show With Jon Stewart.
"I've been doing it," he says, "it's just that I've been doing movies. I did a movie called Accepted in the summer and then this (past) fall I finished a movie called The Man of the Year with Robin Williams."
He seems surprised by this turn in his career. "They ask you and you go, 'Really?' "
Lewis Black performs 7:30 p.m. Friday at the Taft Theatre downtown.