Don't ask comedian Lewis Black to make a joke about the government shutdown.
He doesn't think it's all that funny.
"I don't know if there are jokes that can be made about it, but I'm trying. The joke is what they're doing. That's the largest joke," said Black, who is famous for his scathing -- and often hilarious -- political commentary.
"If you're wondering why you're going insane, it's because this would be really fascinating as a piece of fiction. As reality, it's horrific."
Since starring in his first stand-up routine on Comedy Central in 1998, Black has made a career of pointing out the world's stupidity. Nothing escapes his sarcastic wrath, particularly bumbling politicians.
The comedian will assuredly have enough angry, finger-shaking rants to keep his audience laughing at the North Charleston Performing Arts Center on Oct. 18. And although the shutdown may not be suitable joke fodder, South Carolina certainly is.
"What's that guy's name? Sanford? Mark Sanford. My first question is: Why? Why would you elect Mark Sanford? If you don't think that the rest of America is astonished at you ... you know? Even if he were running against an aardvark, I think you would be obligated, in terms of all that he's done, in terms of undermining the public trust, to vote for the aardvark," Black said.
Black hosts his own Comedy Central series, "Lewis Black's The Root of All Evil," and makes regular appearances on "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" in a segment called "Back in Black," in which he rants about whatever is bothering him at the moment -- the most recent one was about the Barilla pasta fiasco. He is also an actor and author of three books.
On stage, Black's stand-up performances are often laced with outrage-induced profanity and caustic wisecracks. He said he's not like that all the time.
"It's my personality blown up 50 times. If I was really like that all the time I'd be dead right now."
Thankfully, Black's blood pressure is just low enough to keep delivering sharp social commentary and making fun of the things that drive people crazy.
At his show in Charleston, Black said audiences can expect a mix of new material as well as favorites from his Pay-Per-View show "Old Yeller," in which Black rages about the country's failures, from health care to alternative energy.
"Maybe we should just go back to the 'Planet of the Apes,'" Black said.
As for that government shutdown joke, Black did tweet about it Oct. 1, saying "The government shut down today? Really? I thought it had been shut down for years. I've been waiting a long time for it to open."
Follow Erin Shaw at twitter.com/IPBG_ErinShaw.