Durham Performing Arts Center—Lewis Black became famous for his hand-waving, hair-pulling apoplectic rants on the "Back in Black" segments of Comedy Central's The Daily Show. On the phone promoting his upcoming appearance at the DPAC, he's calm and polite, though he admits people often ask him to demonstrate his famous stage persona. "What they do is ask me to do the thing with my fingers," Black says. "And if I'm at a bar, there's no telling what they'll ask."
Black is one of the most high-profile comedians around—in the past year, along with his Daily Show work and touring, he's published a bestselling book of essays on religion, Me of Little Faith, released his seventh CD, headlined the History Channel documentary History of the Joke with Lewis Black, and hosted the now-defunct Comedy Central series Root of All Evil.
Black says he's not certain what the topic of his DPAC performance will be, but "I'm pretty sure it's going to be about alternative energy and the economy and the election." Despite the results of the presidential race, Black suspects that he'll still have plenty of material to rant about: "This administration will keep pumping stuff at us long after they've left office." And of course, there's Sarah Palin. "In the tradition of American Idol, where those who came in second and third continue to perform, and sometimes become as big as those who became No. 1, she'll be around. She's not easy to shake. That one is not easy to shake."
A UNC grad, Black keeps a house in Chapel Hill, where he wrote most of Me of Little Faith. "I liked my time [in Chapel Hill]—I always felt like that was where I would come back to." He's keeping up his busy schedule, including a new film for the History Channel, Surviving the Holidays with Lewis Black. How does Black really survive the holidays? By leaving the country, "to take a break from the psychosis."
Black's not worried about slowing down: "The worst-case scenario is that I get to keep wandering around, ranting and raving. You can't beat that." As for his performance in Durham, does he think the sound system at DPAC will be a problem? "I doubt it." —Zack Smith
Black performs at 8 p.m. Tickets are $38-$58. Visit www.dpacnc.com for more information.