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Lewis Black

Kevin Noonan | Monday, February 7, 2011

South Bend is about to get yelled at.

Acclaimed comedian Lewis Black is bringing his latest stand-up tour, “In God We Rust,” to the Morris Performing Arts Center on Thursday.

The anger and frustration with society that have made Black famous are at full tilt in his latest tour. He describes the title of his show as a description of the current state of our country.

“[The tour] is about … how we basically had all this stuff [in this country] and it was going really well and now it’s rusting. It’s basically about the same things all my other tours are about. I look around, I see what’s going on and it makes me nuts,” Black said.

The Grammy award-winning Black may be most familiar to students from his recurring “Back in Black” segment on “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” or his performance as the fake dean of a fake university in the 2006 film “Accepted,” but Black is actually one of the most prolific stand-up comedians performing today.

His professional career dates back to the late 1970s, after he received his Masters in Fine Arts at the Yale School of Drama and began working as a playwright at a theater in New York City.

While working as the playwright-in-residence, Black not only oversaw the writing of all the plays performed at the theater, but also emceed every show. This emcee position turned into an opportunity for Black to develop his performance as a stand-up comedian and display his now-famous persona.

By the late 1980s, Black left theater to pursue his stand-up career. It turned out to be a good decision, as in the span of two decades his classic angry at everything style of humor has enabled him to rise to the top in ranks of comedians.

In addition to winning a Grammy for Best Comedy Album in 2007 for “The Carnegie Hall Performance” and a nomination for the same award in 2006, he also boasts an Emmy nomination for the 2007 “Red, White and Screwed,” one of his numerous HBO specials.

Black also won the 2001 Best Male Stand-Up award from the American Comedy Awards. His numerous and continuous successes led to his ranking by Comedy Central as the 51st greatest stand-up comedian of all time in 2004.

“[I feel most comfortable] in stand-up. Because it’s just me and the audience and there’s nobody around and I’m the only one who can screw it up,” Black said.

Despite a performance schedule that puts him on stage more than 200 nights a year across the globe, Black has made his mark in other forms of media as well. In addition to his aforementioned role in “Accepted,” Black has appeared in several other full-length and critically acclaimed short films also.

Though he left theater as a full time career, he did not completely give up the art. He has written over 40 plays many of which have successfully been put into production around the country. His writing skills are not contained to the theater, however, as he has also penned two New York Times best selling books.

Fans who are familiar with Black’s typical style of jumping around between social and political commentary can expect the comedian to be at his best in his latest performance.

“I talk about how we’ve got to move Valentine’s Day to the spring where it belongs, it doesn’t belong in … the most depressing month of the year. I talk about health care, and I … look at both parties and I go, you’ve got be kidding me. It just gets dumb. It gets dumber by the minute,” Black said.

And through all his political commentary, despite proclaimed socialist viewpoints, Black maintains his own form of fairness and bipartisanship when looking at American politics. Namely that he is ticked off at everybody equally.

“What [the political parties] don’t seem to realize is that both sides have part of the answer, but they won’t sit down and do anything. They’re so … big on that their idea is the better idea; they’re idiots … I don’t really feel like I [try to influence people]. My only influence might be to comfort people who are also losing their minds too,” Black said.

And like any good comedian, he’s willing to make fun of himself. Black threw in his two cents on the uncanny resemblance that he shares with ESPN NFL analyst Ron Jaworski.

“Ron Jaworski is not even close to being as attractive as I am. No, he’s an athlete; I am the opposite of whatever an athlete is,” Black said.

The show is Thursday at 8:00 p.m. Tickets, which range from $27-$47, can be purchased at the Morris Center or on their website at morriscenter.org.

Contact Kevin Noonan at [email protected]