Lewis Black To Perform Monday

Comedian Lewis Black is pictured during a previous appearance in Jamestown. He will perform Monday at Chautauqua Institution. P-J file photo

Lewis Black is no stranger to Chautauqua County.

He feels equally at home on stage at the Amphitheater as he does enjoying the National Comedy Center.

“I’ve been on that (Amphitheater) stage three or four times. I was just as comfortable on that stage from the moment I stepped on, so, which is unusual,” Black said in a telephone interview. “A room that big still feels intimate.”

Monday will be his first appearance since March 2020, where he made a show out of the footage that was filmed. It is entitled “Thanks For Risking Your life.”

“It was not planned,” he said of the March 2020 show. “I don’t think there was another comedy show that was shot that night.”

Lewis Black is pictured during a previous visit for a National Comedy Center event. P-J file photo

On Monday night, there may be some new rants as wells as some older rants.

So where does Black get his material?

“My process basically is based on what makes me angry, OK, and then I work from there,” Black said. “And that could be anything.”

And if one has seen Black perform then one knows about his rants and how gets angry very quickly.

Black commented that the one thing the pandemic may have done “is destroyed everyone’s memory.”

And, he said, during the pandemic he didn’t do a thing.

Did he work on any new material?


“Utterly appalling,” he said. “You know, I kicked myself around the room for not doing anything. That’s what I did.”

“No, I didn’t make pottery,” he added. “I’m tired of that. Tired. Nothing made me more crazy.”

While on the phone, in a different voice, he began to rant. He started talking in a sarcastic manner about people who said they enjoyed the time during the lockdown. You could just imagine him pointing his fiinger while getting angry.

“This has been the greatest time for me. I had a sourdough starter. I became a master chef. I was able to make the world’s smallest cupcakes. Meanwhile, I am wandering around hoping I don’t die.”

He said during the pandemic he also had a hard time reading. He did, however, catch up on his streaming shows.

“It was the comfort food of the pandemic,” Black added.

Black started as a playwright, but because he was intrigued by comedy, he gradually switched gears. He said his parents introduced him to comedy, but The Ed Sullivan Show is where he watched and took it in.

“It really started with Ed Sullivan show you know. I saw once a week, I saw, one great comic. And it just fascinated me.”

According to his website, lewisblack.com, he fell in love with the theater at age 12, after seeing his first play, which led to pursuing a career in drama. He received academic degrees from the University of North Carolina and Yale Drama School, with some time in Colorado owning a theatre with a group of friends in the interim. During his tenure at UNC, according to the website, Black ventured into stand-up comedy, performing at Cat’s Cradle in Chapel Hill. Stand-up was a steady presence as he pursued his career in theatre.

He settled in New York City and his career blossomed. He became the playwright-in-residence at the West Bank Cafe’s Downstairs Theatre Bar. He oversaw the development of more than 1,000 plays. As the West Bank grew, the site revealed, so did Black’s stand-up skills. He left the West Bank in the late 1980s to pursue stand-up full time.

“I didn’t hit the (comedy) road until I was 40,” he added. His rants make him popular on social media as well as movies and TV. But he still loves theater. His website said Black has penned more than 40 plays, many of which have been produced around the country. One play “The Deal,” a dark comedy about business, will be performed Thursday, at Chautauqua at the Performance Pavilion at 1 p.m. Chautauqua Institution has said that the one-act play is for adults, 18 years and older due to the language and imagery.

At NCC, one can see Black as he greets visitors in a recorded video as they go through the turnstile. Black is the founding chair of the National Comedy Center Advisory Board.

Black has some timely advice for up-and-coming comedians:

1. “You don’t have to start by next Thursday.”

2. “The thing that I always say is, you get up and get up again and get up again and get up again and get up again and get up and you get up and do it over and over and over again.”

For more information on Black’s performances, visit chq.org.


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