Friday, February 7, 2014

Marsha Blackburn? "She's an Idiot" — And More Outtakes from Our Lewis Black Interview

Posted By on Fri, Feb 7, 2014 at 3:19 PM

On Saturday, comedian Lewis Black brings his volatile observational humor to The Ryman for a show that's bound to be like 10 cups of coffee in a bouillon cube. Our interview this week in the Scene went on far longer than space would allow, so here are some outtakes from his wide-ranging talk:

On the occasion for the show:

You're coming to Nashville Saturday for your “The Rant is Due” tour. Is this for the promotion of last year's Old Yeller album? What can the fans expect from you this go around?

The album is different from the tour. The album is — I did a special in August and that's what the album is. And now I'm doing a tour of new material.

Apologies. I thought you were using the tour to promote the Old Yeller album, since it was your last release.

Yeah, no — I wish it would come out finally. The Old Yeller hasn't even come out. These fuckin' idiots.

Really? I just got it on iTunes.

No, it's out on iTunes. I can't get them to put it out on ... you know ... on regular. On the disc form, for Amazon and stuff.

On net neutrality:

Speaking of representatives and the continuous cultural decline, there was an article recently about the DC Circuit Court ruling that the FCC “doesn't have the authority to impose 'net neutrality' on Internet providers.” U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn called this “a victory for the free market,” as well as labeling these regulations “socialistic.” What do you think?

What is that? I'm not sure ... “net neutrality.” What is she talking about?

Well, to quote the example listed in the article, “Comcast, for instance, couldn't slow down your access to Netflix in order to encourage you to use Comcast's speedy streaming service instead.” That a business can affect the rate and manner in which your Internet operates.

And she felt that Comcast could?

That's correct.

Then she's an idiot. Okay? Regulations don't come into the discussion here, okay? And you can use the word “socialist” all you want, [but] regulations and socialism are two different words. Sometimes they might have something to do with each other. They rarely have anything to do with each other in this country, because all of the socialists in this country pretty much are dead. So you can stop worrying about it. And if that's what you're worried about, you're insane.

You don't allow companies to screw people just so that they can screw people. You don't get to slow things down. You don't get to do it. It's not yours to do it. And we're letting you kind of allow us, through you, to get Internet. And if you want us to take you out of the way, then we will be socialists. But that's the way it's gotta work. And I don't know what people like her want.

Or if you're going to have private business doing business, then you have to at times have regulations. And you have to at times weed out the regulations that might cost them economically. Just because this costs them economically in one fashion or another, it's called, “They get to make it up in a lot of other ways.” Just look at your cable bill, asshole.

On U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell:

I have personal experience with Mitch McConnell. I did a congressional correspondents dinner and Mitch McConnell was seated to my left as I was doing my thing, and seated to my right was Dick Cheney. Uh, Dick Cheney had more response and personality than Mitch ... Mitch McConnell stared at me as if he, uh ... he was … like, a dog looking at a Mayan statue. I mean, I would tell a joke and I would turn and look at him, and he was like, it hit him on the nose or something. It was complete confusion.

He knows what his job up there [on the dais] is, it's the same job that I have when I'm up there — and my job is not to sit up there and look sour when he's talking, or when the vice president is talking. My job is to pay attention, and give him focus. His job is to just smile. He doesn't have to do anything else. He has to know what I'm going through, and he has to have some empathy. Since he has none for me, I got none for him.

And I'm tired of hearing what's coming out of his mouth, and what's coming out of Nancy Pelosi's mouth, just as I'm tired of hearing what's coming out of Harry Reid's mouth, and John Boehner's mouth, and Eric Cantor's mouth. And Ted Cruz's mouth. And a lot of the other mouths. And he [McConnell] could lose to someone more conservative … and when you go further, it's not conservative anymore. I don't know what it is. Just because you have an economic thing that you share with conservatives ... but then you have a social agenda which is beyond belief, then that's not conservative. That's something else.

On theater and his efforts as a playwright:

You were recently involved in the successful crowd-funding campaign for Onstage in America, a forthcoming program from PBS which involves a friend of yours, actor Joe Grifasi. Can you describe the program for the readers?

The idea was that we would be able to finally start to video stage productions that were deemed worthy. New theater as well as interpretations of old theater that would get it out around the country. We've got all sorts of new-fashioned ways in which we can shoot a stage play because of the size of the cameras. A camera can be mounted on an actor at this point, so two actors can not only be talking to each other but shooting the other person. And with the editing, etc. there's a fashion in which we can tell a story that is more theatrical on television. It's a flat stage, and it's always a little “over-the-top” because it's theater and you're not in the room. But hopefully, we can combine the world of television with the world of theater. And in a sense, it's another way of trying to save theater. People are interested in it, and to go back to it.

Why do you think that theater is in a position that it needs to be saved? Why do you think theater is so disrespected as form of communication and art?

It's just because its... well, partly it's its own stupidity. Which is not attempting much to keep up with or develop its audience. It's got an audience. My parents' generation went to the theater religiously ... it's an older group. I just had a play of mine done in four theaters around the country. I'd say the average age in the audience was probably 50.

Let's talk about your plays. It's my understanding that Grifasi was working on a play of yours? Was it in New York?

It was in Jersey. It's called One Slight Hitch. It was done in Jersey, in Wellfleet, in Seattle, and the Williamstown Theater Festival. And it's published now, it just got published. I sell it. More people will see it on sale at the Ryman ... I mean, I know go around selling it so at least people if they want to can read it. You only get a finite number of productions. We'll see how many productions it gets.

With your efforts in both theater and film, have you ever considered writing or directing a motion picture or video project?

Well, yeah, I've been through a lot of dealing with doing video projects and they're always rejected.


Yeah. I mean, it's two a year we go through. And except for a couple of times, I don't seem to break through with them and they don't seem to have an interest in me. I don't understand it. I work with really good people. I don't work with idiots. I mean, the people who've written it or the people who are involved in it on one level or another are well-known or strong.

I'm always falling in a crack. When I tried to break into ABC, NBC, CBS when I had shows that were involved with possibly going to network, I was considered “too out there.” And now, a lot of cable considers me “not out there enough.” It's unbelievable. I'm not quirky in the fashion that one should be quirky. Which is fine, I got lucky. I've certainly been able to do what I want to do, and I'm not weeping about it.

With the success of Onstage in America, couldn't you just run your own crowd-funding campaign to finance a project?

I've worked for eight years at the West Bank Cafe in New York. We had a theater downstairs. And we worked with people like Aaron Sorkin, Alan Ball, and actors “from A to Z” that you'd know the names of. Robert Sean Leonard and I performed together, the guy from House. Ethan Hawke directed down there. I mean, it's an endless list of people. And no one ever put the story out there, and the restaurant itself has kind of been there forever and kind of reflects the history of New York from before the “Disneyfication” of 42nd Street. So we're putting together ... we're gonna put together a documentary of that, and I'm gonna try to get support for that which will essentially be a non-profit type of thing.

On LGBT equal rights:

When do you think the LGBT community is going to say “enough's enough” in regard to anti-gay legislation like the so-called "Don't Say Gay" bill?

Well, it's coming. What you're hearing is really, and this is what it's really about as far as I'm concerned, is that they've lost. History has spoken early. It's not come to pass the way that it should, but it shall. The kids that they're raising don't care ... they didn't buy their bullshit. They were born and raised in a diverse culture sexually, and they get it, and they're so far ahead of their parents that it freaks them out. And so you've got a lot of leaders that, in a sense, it's like watching the dinosaurs pass from the Earth.

Would you say that it's safe to predict that in the next ten years that gay rights won't be nearly as much of an issue as they are now?

There will still be someone somewhere barking like a dog in the woods about it, but this too shall pass.

In your view, is the use of social issues as a distraction a trick that's limited to one party? Or is it a universal tool of politicians in general?

Well, the Democrats do it too. They just kind of harp on certain things. They are the distractions. Just get to what the point is. The point ... it's the way in which these idiots try to get elected, is what it is. See, I'm just like you. I don't like 'em either.

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