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Lewis Black - Biography

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Photo of stand-up comedian Lewis Black Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Born:

August 30, 1948

Lewis Black Overview:

Though Lewis Black came to stand-up later in life, he quickly became one of the biggest comics of his generation. Often political, Black's trademark style is an angry boil that builds to a full-on shouting rant; his frustration with politics and society drive him from frustration to rage. Like George Carlin, Richard Pryor and Bill Hicks before him, Black is fed up with the hypocrisy and madness he sees in the world, and his comedy is devoted to preaching that gospel to the unsuspecting masses.

Quick Lewis Black Facts:

  • Lewis Black hails from Washington, D.C.
  • He started doing stand-up comedy in 1990.
  • Black contributes a regular segment to The Daily Show called "Back in Black."
  • In 2007, he became the host of his own Comedy Central series, Lewis Black's Root of all Evil.
  • He has released seven comedy albums (including the Grammy-winning Carnegie Hall Performance in 2006) and written two books.

Lewis Black Discography and Comedy Specials:

  • The White Album (2000)
  • Revolver (2002)
  • The End of the Universe (2002)
  • Rules of Enragement (2003)
  • Black on Broadway (2003) (HBO Special)
  • Luther Burbank Performing Arts Center Blues (2005)
  • The Carnegie Hall Performance (2006)
  • Red, White and Screwed (2006) (HBO Special)
  • Anticipation (2008)
  • Stark Raving Black (2010)
  • The Prophet
  • In God We Rust (2012)

Lewis Black Early Life:

Born in D.C. but raised in Maryland, Lewis Black didn't set out to be a comedian. Raised middle-class and Jewish by a teacher mom and artist dad, Black's career path was that of a playwright. He received his Masters of Fine Arts in Drama from Yale University in 1977, and spent the majority of the 1980s writing and producing one-act plays in New York City. It was as an opening act to those plays that Black finally discovered stand-up comedy.
Black performed stand-up throughout the '90s, eventually scoring his own Comedy Central Presents special in 1998. He later became a regular contributor on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, performing a segment called "Back in Black" in which he delivers an extended rant about current political issues. These appearances, along with the wealth of political material in his act, helped secure Black's status as one of the most popular political comedians in the country.

Lewis Black: Workhorse:

In 2000, Black released his first comedy album, called simply The White Album. He would release four more albums in the next four years: Revolver (2002); The End of the Universe (2002); Rules of Enragement (2003) and Luther Burbank Performing Arts Center Blues (2005).

In 2004, Black taped his first HBO comedy special, Black on Broadway. One year later, he wrote and published his first book, the autobiography Nothing's Sacred.

In 2006, Black taped his second HBO special, the Emmy-nominated Red, White and Screwed. He also became part of an elite group of comedians by playing New York's famous Carnegie Hall. The performance was recorded and released as an album, called, appropriately, The Carnegie Hall Performance. The album won the 2007 Grammy Award for Best Comedy Album.

Black finally got his own Comedy Central series in 2008, called Lewis Black's Root of All Evil. The show is formatted like a courtroom trial, with Black presiding over other comedians making cases for evils (such as internet porn or Paris Hilton) plaguing society.

Also in 2008, Black released his second book, a reflection on growing up religious called Me of Little Faith. His seventh album, Anticipation, was released the same year.

In 2010, Black released his eighth stand-up album, Stark Raving Black.

Additonal Lewis Black Facts:

  • Black won the American Comedy Award for Best Male Stand-up in 2001.
  • He's had small roles in films like Woody Allen's Hannah and Her Sisters, Accepted and Man of the Year (also starring Robin Williams).
  • During his days as a plawright, Black wrote over 40 plays and oversaw the development of over 1,000 others -- including plays written by West Wing creator Aaron Sorkin and American Beauty writer Alan Ball.
  • In 2007, Black became the first comedian ever to perform at the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles.

If You Like Lewis Black, Check Out

Jon Stewart, Bill Maher, Sam Kinison, Bill Hicks

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