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Worth The Wait

Lewis Black issues a wholly original new special on Comedy Central, CD and DVD

For the first third or so of “Stark Raving Black,” Lewis Black’s newest Comedy Central special and CD/DVD release (in stores Tuesday, June 15), he doesn’t quite erupt as much as he used to for punctuation or comedic effect.

In the more political material he opens the show with, recapping the end of the Bush years and the inauguration of Obama, it seems like Black is taking more time to lay out a discourse. “Everyone came up to me after Obama was elected and said the same thing, ‘I never thought I would see this would happen in my lifetime.’” Black muses. “I wonder, then, who voted for him.”

There it is – a punchline without Black’s trademark outbursts. Perhaps he’s been mellowed by age, or having written two autobiographical comedy books in prose (see review, 6/7/08).

Black repeats again that he hates both Republicans and Democrats – although that might not be so believable with his recent evisceration of Glenn Beck on The Daily Show – but he does skillfully dissect the American cultural divide. As tracks on the CD or segments on the DVD, “Mainstream Comedian” and “Vince Gill, Amy Grant & Me” mine this territory. In the former, Black finds it amazing that he’s become the star of USO shows. “I never thought we’d go from Bob Hope … to me.” And on the latter, he complains about having to follow the aforementioned duo and the stupidity of the booker who would put the aging, angry duo after the most perfect Christian couple.

By the midway point of “Stark Raving Black,” though, Black brings his trademark style to bear on more new material – and this album is completely fresh material, unlike “Anticipation” (see review, 8/4/08) – such as “Birth & Death,” “Parents” and “The Economy.” The last of these could also be considered political, and it’s a smart dissection of how the housing crisis led to the recession. The first two find Black still disturbed by a trip to a Poconos resort to perform, on which his parents joined him – and his outbursts start to fly.

In a way, “Stark Raving Black” is a return to form as far as Black’s recorded stand-up is concerned, both because the material is completely new and up-to-date commentary on society and politics, and because he changes up his tone, style and pacing in his delivery from piece to piece.

 

   

     

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