Thursday, August 21, 2008

Online Exclusive: City Weekly interviews Lewis Black

To anyone fed up with the rampant absurdity in our world, Lewis Black’s rants are as soothing as they are scathing. On The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and his own The Root of All Evil, the curmudgeonly comedian and playwright spits the truth like he has Tourette’s, or a really nasty hemorrhoid; we bask in it like a cool shower in the Sahara. He, like Lenny Bruce and Bill Hicks and George Carlin, isn’t just a stand-up shecky; he’s a truth-teller, the kind of guy who’s good for a belly laugh and as well as food for thought. When he talks, we listen for days after he’s done. And when his wisdom sinks in, it helps society progress. Lewis Black manifests hope in spitting, finger-pointing rage.

In his new book, Me of Little Faith (Riverhead), Black focuses on religion, making observations about a variety of faiths. Since Black spent several months in Utah shooting Unaccompanied Minors, Mormonism gets plenty of space in the book. He’s also mentioned the visit in his act; just search YouTube for his Opie and Anthony Traveling Virus tour performance (part one) and you’ll hear him pop off about gingham dresses and a “12-foot animatronic Jesus!” City Weekly caught up with Black days before his Kingsbury Hall stop on Saturday to talk Salt Lake City and Mormons.

CW: You’re coming back to SLC. How’d you get caught in our tractor beam again?

LB: Uh… just luck. Just pure luck. [laughs] I like playin’ Salt Lake. You know, the 10 weeks there was an interesting experience, but I like performing there.

CW: You say the same thing about visiting SLC as you do about writing your latest book.

LB: Yeah. Especially with writing. Writing’s like being married to a bitch— but you can’t let her go because she’s hell on wheels. It’s like some weird mistress. But really mean [laughs]… But you just forget. I really enjoy the process of writing. It’s when you finish and you look and you say, “Really… is this good?” It’s just a lot of self-torture because you’re alone all the time.

CW: Mormons get some time in your latest book. Wanna hear more about 'em?

LB: Sure. Well, the thing was ... [Jon] Krakauer wrote a book [Under the Banner of Heaven] about the Mormons. That’s the other [influence]: My being there, and the book. He wrote a very remarkable history of the Mormon religion, very succinctly. In the book, with credit to him, I just said look, this guy really does it better in his book.
We did this episode of The Root of All Evil on Scientology, which I knew very little about, and didn’t even write about in the book. Everything I tried to write about was personal. And those people, what they believe, makes Mormons look like scientists. ... But go ahead: please tell me.

CW: For one, Mormons are said to believe that God lives on the Planet Kolob with his wives cranking out spirit babies. So technically you and I are two of those spirit babies.

LB: Come on! Is that true?

CW: Well, it’s the subject of debate. The Mormon PR machine is famously competent. ... Have you heard of baptisms for the dead, or baptisms by proxy?

LB: Oh, yeah. That I knew about. And also marrying for eternity, which is just… [famous Lewis Black roiling pause]… as brutal as it gets, I think.

CW: The Disinformation Book of Lists has a list of famous people the Mormons baptized by proxy. ...
Albert Einstein… Anne Frank…

LB: Oh, he’d be thrilled. He wasn’t even that Jewish. Anne Frank? You gotta be fuckin’ kiddin’ me. That’s unbelievable, seriously [laughs]. Anne Frank?

CW: Genghis Khan…

LB: Genghis Khan? Why? What would possess them to want Ghengis Khan?

CW: I have no idea. Hitler’s on the list, too.

LB: Yeah, that’s a great idea. Real good marketing when you’re tryin’ to convert a Jew.

CW: Maybe you already knew about this, but the list says that they baptized 20,000 to 380,000 Jews who died in the Holocaust.

LB: And the others…? Five million…

CW: Maybe they’re just runnin’ behind.

LB: They’re hand-pickin’ ‘em [laughs].

(Randy Harward)


  1. Congrats on a great interview! Next, you can tell funny stories about the sexual escapades of pre-teen girls to Andrew Dyce Clay to set him up for jokes. Byron Nelson, look out for this up and coming interviewer!


  2. Poor little jeffiejames--got his Jesus Jammies in a twist.

  3. Ah, brilliant commentary, anonymous. I take a jab at this interview which was completely based around Mormon-bashing, and you choose to make fun of me for my religion.

    I mean, is there anything that defines you and much of the City Weekly crowd more than your venomous, obsessive hate for my faith?

    Perhaps your love of coffee and organic foods?

  4. Wait a minute... not to get involved in a heated and obviously extremly emotional debate that i care very little for, especially with the ANONYMOUS INTERNETS involved, but do Mormons really abhor organic food as they do coffee?

    i can't be totally sure, but i'm fairly certain that the writers of the Word of Wisdom weren't like, "Oh yeah! Must make certain to include that everyone should get all their food made in hydroponic factories and that the cows they eat are grown with steroids in tiny cages. That's DEFINITELY a primary health concern."

  5. Lol. My comment was more a shot at liberals in general in Salt Lake. I eat organic carrots...

  6. Technically, Jeffie, your religion is mine (thus I remain anonymous because your virulent types would come after me at 6 am for mocking your over-sensitivity. Grow a pair is all I can say.


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