<phone rings 5x>
Lewis Black DRA ’77 answers.
LB: Hello… hello…helloo…
YDN: Mr. Black… Hello… Mr. Black… Lewis?
YDN: It’s Justin from the Yale Daily News.
LB: Call me back at another number. This phone is a piece of shit. <gives number>
<phone rings 5x>
YDN: Hi, I’m from the Yale Daily News. I was calling to confirm we had a phone interview in 30 minutes.
LB: I can talk now if you want.
YDN: (shit!) OK, so… How did you get your start as a comedian?
LB: Well, really I just started… Nah, actually I went to the Yale School of Drama. Got a master’s in playwriting. I wanted to be a playwright. And then I found out people were more interested in my comedy than my plays.
YDN: What kind of plays did you write?
LB: Surreal comedies.
YDN: (pause) Michael Jackson.
YDN: Well I was just looking on your Web site. I don’t know if you know this is there. It’s a segment from your act in which you say that Michael Jackson has become the punchline for any joke. Ever get any hatemail or complaints about racial or political jokes?
LB: Not really. There are probably a lot of worse things out there for people to care about.
YDN: Why are Jewish comedians so much funnier than others?
LB: I don’t think we’re funnier. Well, there are a lot of us. I guess we have more material to work with. We have more sympathy. We know what it’s like to be an outsider. We also come from a strong storytelling background.
YDN: What’s it like working on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart.
LB: Are you kidding? It’s good. It sure beats Home & Garden.
YDN: Stephen Colbert got his start on “The Daily Show” and now he’s branched off on his own show and he’s pretty successful. Any hopes to have your own TV show pretty soon?
LB: Sure. That’d be great. But it’s hard to get that kind of thing goin’. Anyway we’re working on something like that right now.
YDN: Have you appeared on “The Colbert Report”?
LB: No. He knows I’d bury him with my charisma.
YDN: When you get to Yale, what will you be doing for us?
LB: I’ll be doing my act. Having spent some time at Yale, I’ll talk a bit about some things [I know you guys can relate to].
YDN: The winner of Yale’s Last Comic Standing will get to sit down with you. Any advice for the losers?
LB: If you’re thinking about getting into comedy, it would be easier to just kill yourself now… Nah… Work. Work every night of the week. And then do it. And then do it again. And then do it again. Do it ‘til you can’t stand it anymore. And then do it again.
YDN: Are there any comedians, dead or alive, you look to for inspiration?
LB: A lot of em. <lists about 15 names, including Bob Newhart and Richard Pryor>
YDN: Is there anything you’re looking forward to seeing again at Yale?
LB: You know what I always liked? Beinecke. You can see some extraordinary stuff in there. The whole set-up is pretty nice.
YDN: Do you have any children?
LB: No, the state won’t allow it.
YDN: You’re on tour these days, right?
LB: I’m pretty much on tour every day of my life.
YDN: Do you tend to stick to the coasts or do you ever venture out into middle America?
LB: Well I just got back from [the Midwest].
YDN: Is there a different kind of reaction to your comedy in those places, especially your more political jokes?
LB: Not a lot. I mean, they get it. Everyone’s got cable now, anyway. I sense that in New York and Boston they find my stuff a little funnier. Almost too funny. I can’t believe they laugh so hard at stuff. I think they’re maybe a little more in-tune with the bitterness of it.
YDN : Do you ever meet any of the political figures you poke fun at?
LB: I met Dick Cheney. I think they don’t pay much attention to that kind of stuff. They really have no idea it’s going on. Colbert had been making of fun of them for years and they still don’t really know who he is. They’re too busy preening themselves.
YDN: Any last words for the students here at Yale?
LB: Just that you guys are getting the best education there is. Enjoy every minute of it. Have a good time because these really are the best years of your life. And pursue what it is you want to do, because one day, you’ll be doing it.