Lewis Black can’t help but rant. The venerable comic, who will perform Friday at the Durham Performing Arts Center, delivers tirades during his shows and even during interviews.
Black, 69, loses it when discussing President Donald Trump. In an interview, the longtime “Daily Show” correspondent reveals his thoughts on whether Bernie Sanders can ever be elected president and notes whether he was happier as a struggling unknown playwright or a popular stand-up.
Here are excerpts.
Q: Does it feel like you’re living in a surreal sci-fi novel considering everything that is happening at the White House?
A: That’s exactly what (comic) John Bowman (who opens for Black) says. John says God told Kurt Vonnegut to write the novel that we’re living. It really is crazy right now. The Canadians are looking at us like, ‘Hey, what is the matter with you, Americans?’ They’re saying, ‘Grow the hell up as a country.’ Some people here slam Canadians, but we should pay attention. Canada is a good, functioning society that takes care of each other.
Q: But it seems as much of the rest of the world believes Americans are crazy now.
A: Yes, even the Italians think we’re crazy.
Q: Are you surprised by Trump, or not at all since you shared New York City with him for much of your life?
A: I spent 40 years with him living in my face in this city. New Yorkers detest Trump so much that 9 out of 10 New Yorkers wouldn’t vote for him. I would rather vote for a porpoise for president than for Donald Trump. When you’re president, you’re supposed to be a role model. Like them or loathe them, each of the presidents who preceded Trump were that or appear that way in comparison with him. But this guy is more concerned about the NFL than the devastation in Puerto Rico. I don’t get it.
Q: Why does Trump care so much whether people like him?
A: I don’t know. All I know is that when you’re the president you can’t care about that. You have much bigger issues than popularity.
Q: Two months before George Carlin passed away, I asked him to comment on the state of America, and he said that we were circling the drain. Are we circling the drain or is there hope?
A: Despite all of the craziness with Donald Trump, I still have faith in the American people. Look at how Americans responded when the two hurricanes hit during the end of summer. People got into their cars and drove to Texas and Florida and helped, even though they were going to provide assistance to complete strangers. The misdirection of our leadership is so stunning, but it’s so amazing that there still is incredible kindness in America.
Q: You love Bernie Sanders. Would this country ever elect him to be the Commander-In-Chief?
A: No. He’s Jewish and a socialist. They only other strike against him would be if he had breasts.
Q: You’re probably no happier now than when you were a struggling playwright a generation ago.
A: That’s absolutely correct. I’m no happier now than when I wrote plays nobody saw and made no money than now when I’m stupidly successful. I look back fondly at the days in which I could barely make rent. I’m a fervent believer that people should go for it when it comes to what they want to do with their lives. If you hope to work in an industry in which jobs are scarce, well, go for it. You can make it in a crazy industry. I’m living proof.
Who: Lewis Black
When: 8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 17
Where: Durham Performing Arts Center, 121 Vivian St., Durham
Cost: Tickets are $40 and $55.