‘I Know The Story’
Lewis Black Teaches Comedy Class, Talks Festival
Comedian Lewis Black wants to get into the minds of people brave enough to hop on stage.
Black is normally seen by the public performing his set. But Wednesday he gave a class on comedy, performance and how he became a stand up.
Inside the National Comedy Center, local residents were able to purchase tickets to see Black in a session titled “Standup BS With Lewis Black.”
“There might be something to be gotten out of doing a version of how, essentially, I went from writing plays to becoming a stand up to basically how I teach stand up,” Black told The Post-Journal about administering such a class. “It’s not even teaching stand up. It’s getting people up to experience what being on stage is like as you do stand up –the experience of stand up.
“I wanted to give them a sense of that class,” Black continued. “And by giving them a sense of that class, giving them some what of a sense of the way to look at it and how to think about it if they’re thinking of doing it.”
With a line to the front doors in the lobby with people eager to see the comedian, Black said he was going to try to remember back to a decade ago when he used to give similar classes to actors. But Black wasn’t simply winging it.
“I know the story,” he said.
Black, except for the last 10 years, would work periodically with actors who were in college or had graduated college. He would work with apprentices at the Williamstown Theater Festival. Typically, in those classes students would undergo five or six classes before getting on stage in front of 150 people doing a three to five minute show.
“They leave there now with a monologue that they might be able to use when they audition,” he said of his classes in the past. “They also get to perform and a lot of the times they don’t get to do much performing.”
Black has been a longtime advocate and promoter of the Lucille Ball Comedy Festival and the NCC. Ahead of the comedy center’s opening last year, Black promoted the event on “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert” wearing an NCC shirt on national television. Last year, Black performed at the Reg Lenna Center for the Arts.
While conducting classes and making appearances for various lectures, Black is not performing during the comedy fest or the “What’s Funny?” week at Chautauqua Institution this year.
Asked why he continues to support and attend the festival even when he isn’t performing, he joked “because I’m a sucker.”
“I was thinking this morning, the reason I come back is because I’m not going to end up in an art museum,” he said. “This is the museum I’m going to end up in, so to me it’s important. It’s just that I believe in the museum and whatever little bit I can do to keep the focus on it.”