February 16, 2019 7:00pm
He’s a Renaissance man and an American original. Colicky as a baby, Lewis Black, stand-up comedian, actor and author, seemed destined from his birth to be angry and easily irritated by the life around him. The irascible Mr. Black is widely considered one of the best and most popular performers working today, and he performs more than 200 shows a year around the world. His passion for the absurdities of life gives voice to his audiences’ frustrations and it’s been said that he yells so that they don’t have to.
Black fell in love with the theater as a teen and he pursued a career in theater at the University of North Carolina and the Yale Drama School. While at North Carolina, he started doing stand-up while studying drama. He eventually came to New York and became playwright-in-residence at the West Bank Café’s Downstairs Theatre Bar. There he oversaw the development of more than 1000 plays, including early works by Aaron Sorkin, American Beauty writer Alan Bell and his own plays. He also served as emcee and his skill as a stand-up comic grew. He had found his voice and left West Bank to pursue stand-up full time.
In 1996, Black’s friend Lizz Winstead tapped him to create a weekly segment for a show she was producing on Comedy Central called The Daily Show. The segment was a three-minute rant about whatever was on his mind at the moment. It evolved into “Back in Black” and was one of the most popular segments on the show. His relationship with Comedy Central led to four specials for the Comedy Central Presents series. He co-created Last Laugh with Lewis Black and presided over Lewis Black: The Root of All Evil. In 2001, he was named Best Male Stand-Up at the American Comedy Awards.
Black’s television exposure led to a record deal with Stand Up! Records. His first CD was released in 2000 and he has followed with eight more. He has been nominated for four Grammy Awards and won twice, in 2007 for Best Comedy Album for The Carnegie Hall Performance and in 2011 for Stark Raving Black.
Black has filmed two specials for HBO, Black on Broadway and Red, White and Screwed. The latter was nominated for an Emmy in 2007. For two seasons he had a regular feature on Inside the NFL and he has participated in Comic Relief. In 2009, he filmed his first feature-length concert film, Stark Raving Black, and at the end of its run in theaters, premium channel Epix picked it up, along with the accompanying documentary, Basic Black. Both are still aired regularly and can be found in the Epix on demand menu.
In the midst of his rigorous touring schedule and television appearance, the comic has written three best-selling books, Nothing’s Sacred, Me of Little Faith and I’m Dreaming of a Black Christmas. He is also a prolific playwright, having written more than 40 plays, including One Slight Hitch, that was presented at Garry Marshall’s Falcon Theatre in Los Angeles. He has also gone back to his theatrical training, appearing in Barry Levinson’s Man of the Year with Robin Williams and in Paul Feig’s Unaccompanied Minors.
Black is a supporter of a host of charitable organizations including the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and Autism Speaks. He was honored by the Brady Center for his commitment to ending gun violence and has toured with the USO. He works with theater students at the University of North Carolina, continuing a lifetime commitment to education and the arts.
In his spare time, Black plays golf, even though golf hates him.