Lewis Black — ‘The Rant
♦ 8 p.m. May 10
♦ Rialto Square Theatre, 102 N. Chicago St., Joliet
♦ Tickets, $39.50-$65
♦ (815) 726-6600;
Updated: June 11, 2013 6:15AM
Comedian Lewis Black — whose comedy style is based on ranting and ridiculing such things as history, politics and religion — started his show business career as a playwright. Black said that background has helped his stand-up comedy career.
“They are two separate disciplines,” Black said of playwriting and stand-up comedy. “But hopefully the playwriting background gives my comedy an arc and through-line.”
Black will perform his show, “The Rant is Due,” May 10 at the Rialto Square Theatre in Joliet.
“One of the things that impresses me with my stand-up comedy friends is that they are phenomenal joke writers,” Black continued. “I don’t write jokes; I tell a story.”
His storytelling has netted him two Grammy awards for best comedy album (2006’s “The Carnegie Hall Performance” and 2010’s “Stark Raving Black”) and legions of fans. Black came into national prominence with his appearances on “The Daily Show” in 1996. Those appearances led to comedy specials on HBO, Comedy Central, Showtime and Epix.
He has released eight comedy albums and has published three best-selling books: “Nothing’s Sacred” (Gallery Books), “Me of Little Faith” (Riverhead) and “I’m Dreaming of a Black Christmas” (Riverhead Trade). Black also has appeared on such late-night TV shows as “Larry King Live,” “Piers Morgan Tonight,” “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon,” “Late Show with David Letterman,” “Late Night with Conan O’Brien” and “The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson.”
But the comedian started in theater. When Black’s father took his 12-year-old son to see a play, the younger Black decided to pursue a drama career and received degrees from the University of North Carolina and Yale Drama School. It was while he was at University of North Carolina that he started doing stand-up.
Black settled in New York City and was the playwright-in-residence at the West Bank Cafe’s downstairs theater bar. There, he oversaw the development of more than 1,000 plays as well as his own original works. (He has written 40 plays).
In addition to overseeing the works on stage, Black emceed every show but the lure of performing stand-up outweighed that of working in the theater.
“As a kid I’d listen to George Carlin records,” the 64-year-old Black said. “I was looking for people like me. I also related to Lenny Bruce, Richard Pryor, Jonathan Winters, Lily Tomlin and Bob Newhart. It was like a drug for me. I couldn’t get enough. It all had its effect on me.”
And Black said he knew early on that he could make people laugh.
“I knew when I was a kid in high school that I could be funny,” he said. “When a room was tense, I could say something funny and I’d get away with it.”