Lewis Black is a Washington, D.C., native, but despite his fame that takes him on near-constant travels across the country, he can't quite seem to escape it.
Although he's not specifically a political comic, his appearances on Comedy Central's "The Daily Show" have helped cement him as a foil to political buffoonery. His persona on stage is bluster and finger wags, a last angry man routine or, as he once called it, "like being on the Titanic every single day and being the only person who knows what's going to happen."
"(Politics) was always in my face," he said before a show in Midwest City, Okla. "I've never been that interested in it, really. But it brings a lot of stupidity to the table. And that's a good thing, as far as what I do."
Black was raised in the district and the suburb of Silver Spring, Md. As a child he took to theater, studying drama at the University of North Carolina and Yale University. He performed stand-up in college, but didn't consider it a profession. He settled in New York City at the West Bank Cafe's Downstairs Theatre Bar. He was the playwright in residence, overseeing productions of more than 1,000 plays. All the while, he served as the emcee, regularly drawing good laughs. Still, he didn't think comedy was his calling until he kept getting funnier, and bookers kept noticing. He was 40 years old and for the previous 20 years had little money to speak of.
"There was more and more interest in my stand-up," he said. "All of a sudden there was an income. Really, stand-up was an extention of theater, only that you're the writer, you're the director and you're the only actor."
The persona he's now known for took about a decade to finally perfect, he said. Once he did, it caught on quickly. He's filmed HBO specials, written three books and has landed parts in movies and television. But comedy remains his forte. The anger he tapped is one that's always been around, he said -- anger at societal norms, anger at celebrity, anger at something as simple as the weather. But, as it usually does, that anger somehow finds its way back to politics.
"There's been a lot of anger in this country for a long time at Washington, ever since lobbyists entrenched themselves and the politicians created a moat around the city," he said. "I don't think that city, the one where I was born and raised, really had any clue as to what was really going on out there."