Lewis Black on Albany

lewis black closeup

One of our favorite Lewis Black lines, about mad cow disease: "What were these ranchers thinking when they started feeding cows to other cows? Hey, when I eat human, I get a little crazy myself!"

Comedian and playwright Lewis Black is heading for Albany in a few months to do his stand-up act at The Palace. Black is well known for his rants and observations about politics, which is pretty much our local sport.

So we gave him a call to ask what he thinks about some of the things that have been going on lately at the state Capitol.

New York got a little cocky there a while back. A lot of us looked at Connecticut and New Jersey and maybe thought, "Wow, really? You elected these guys governor?" Then we got Elliot Spitzer. Then we got David Paterson, who, by this time last year was even less popular than Elliot Spitzer. And last year the legislature shut down to the point where, literally, whichever party had the key to the chamber was in charge. So we got a bit -- humbled. Some time has passed, Andrew Cuomo is in charge now. Dare we hold our heads up high again?

I think it's like... you know, it's like we were basically trying on irregulars in the store and you actually go back to the brand name again. We're buying a brand. I don't know if he's good -- he's just got that Cuomo established brand name. It's the name. That's what we're down to. Roosevelt might work. But Cuomo works, too.

This past weekend we had the first same sex marriages in New York...

Which is a step in the right direction, but who knows how long that will hold when they finally get the news in the hollows of New York, when they finally find out what happened.

I just see this as a back-and-forth until a lot of people grow up. We talk about liberty but can't deal with it. We talk about freedom but can't deal with it. Of course the first lawsuit has been filed already. Whatever religion -- it's just absurd. If you think these people are going to go to hell because they get married, isn't that enough?

I was talking about it a long time ago in my act, you know. People seem to forget that 30 years ago the closet got opened -- and these people have to adjust to it. It's familiarity -- they don't know the guy at the store selling them this thing that they like is gay. It's familiarity.

Hydrofracking -- fracking brilliant or fracking insane?

You know -- I really don't know. Everything I read either tells me that it's good or it's bad -- but I have no clue whatsoever. I've read from writers that I trust that it isn't bad. And then I read from environmentalists that it will destroy the environment. I have no idea.

I do know the cure to fracking, though: Run an energy program like you run the space race. Pump money in and pump kids into math and science.

Don't tell me you can't! Kennedy said we're going to the moon in 10 years, and when we started out, our idea of propulsion was like -- fireworks. Don't tell me you need 20 years if you want to focus the energy in this country. I mean, we're not stroke victims -- you know. It's got to be done, you just have to go and do it.

I mean, just because we don't have an enemy -- the enemy is ourselves at this point. (pause) And it's killing my sense of humor. (laughs)

You hear a lot about how we have to "clean up Albany." Governor Cuomo is saying it, other folks are saying it. If you live in Albany it can start to give you an inferiority complex. You've played Albany before -- maybe you can help us out. What should Albany be proud of?

You want to talk about inferiority complexes, I was born and raised around DC. So if anyone should feel badly...

Albany is great. I like Albany.

Have you spent much time here?

No. That's how come I like it. (laughs) The less time I spend there the more I like it. (laughs) I just think of it... like Camelot. (laughs)

Seriously, something Albany should be proud of: William Kennedy. He's one of the great writers. Basically, whenever you're in doubt, just go back and read him. I like the way he writes about the city and the people. Any writer who gives you a sense of place like that I really admire. It's why I'm not a fiction writer -- it's an extraordinary talent. Faulkner had his place, Hemingway had Spain. Kennedy writes that way about Albany.

Lewis Black will be at the Palace October 21.

photo: Flickr user Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff



Great snag on this interview. I'm thrilled that you're writing pieces like this. And it's great to learn that Lewis Black is a Bill Kennedy fan. Keep it up!

This is excellent! Great score AOA.

P.S. I remember the backlash from readers when I suggested an AOA podcast a year or two ago, but this would have been one of those great opportunities for an audio extra. I'm assuming you recorded this conversation and then transcribed it. Lewis Black has one of those famously recognizable voices, and it would have been a lot of fun to hear him talking to you guys. (You could also offer a transcript too for the folks who just HATE podcasts. ;) )

He gets kind of close to the line with the "hollows" comment. Like NYC/LA people talk about "flyover states". We have televisions. We understand more than you think. (And I'm saying this as a supporter of gay marriage)

Yeah, I'm pretty sure everyone in the hollows knows about the gay marriage bill. Whether or not they support it is up for grabs, but even the rural areas of upstate have their same sex couples.

I echo the call for releasing the audio. Love Louis Black, would love to hear the interview. Any chance on AOA scoring tickets for a give away?

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