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Lewis Black

A comedian who has raised rage to the level of an art form, Lewis Black is a satirist and standup performer whose trademark rants about the failings of the world have made him one of the most popular and singular voices in American humor. Working as an actor and standup through the 1990s (his early material can be heard on 2011's The Prophet, recorded in 1990), he rose to prominence late in the decade with regular appearances on Comedy Central's The Daily Show, giving voice to his obsession with human stupidity, and his delivery was so full of frothing, barely articulate bile and fury that it could nearly drown the sharpness of his social and political observations. Black's star rose after that, and he regularly documented his concerts, beginning with 2000's The White Album. 2020's Thanks for Risking Your Life was recorded shortly after the COVID-19 pandemic put his live appearances on hold, and 2023's Tragically I Need You picked up on the other side, with his first tour after the end of lockdown. Born in Washington, D.C. on August 30, 1948, Black graduated from the Yale Drama School and worked for a government anti-poverty program under President Nixon before becoming the playwright in residence at the West Bank Café Downstairs Theatre Bar in Manhattan. He authored over 40 plays that were produced there and at other theaters across the country (one, The Deal, was made into a movie). Seeking to move into comedy, Black made his motion picture debut in Woody Allen's Hannah and Her Sisters in 1986 and went on to land a series of guest-starring roles on TV shows like Law and Order, Murphy Brown, Mad About You, Homicide, and The Days and Nights of Molly Dodd (the last of which was recurring); he also appeared in several more films, including 1990's Jacob's Ladder. Black's standup star began to rise with appearances on The Late Show with David Letterman and Late Night with Conan O'Brien, and he landed a big break when he signed on as a regular contributor to The Daily Show. Since then, Black has continued to tour the country as a standup comedian, and in 2000 issued his first CD, The White Album (which naturally took its art design from the Beatles' release). The following year, Black developed a one-man show called Black Humor, which he performed in New York City. After the success of his weekly stint on The Daily Show, he starred in several standup specials for Comedy Central, whose record division has also released CDs of his on-stage performances including 2003's Rules of Enragement, 2008's Anticipation, and 2010's Stark Raving Black; the latter was also filmed and received a brief release in theaters before appearing on premium cable. Black published his first book in 2005, Nothing's Sacred, which made the New York Times' Best-Sellers list, as did 2008's Me of Little Faith and 2010's I'm Dreaming of a Black Christmas. In 2011, Comedy Central released an archival live recording from 1990 under the title The Prophet, with an album of new material, In God We Rust, following a year later. In 2015, Black delivered a rare family-friendly performance when he was cast (or typecast) as the voice of Anger in the Pixar/Disney animated feature Inside Out. He released a new comedy album in 2017, Black to the Future, which was released on his own Stark Raving Black label. In 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic was shutting down live entertainment venues all over the world, Black recorded one of his final shows before the lockdown sent him home; it was released as Thanks for Risking Your Life. Fittingly, when Black began touring again in 2022, he released an album from one of his first shows after returning to duty, 2023's Tragically I Need You, which (among other things) focused on how he passed his time while stuck at home.
© Steve Huey & Mark Deming /TiVo


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