Denver Paramount Theatre Welcomes Lewis Black on His Final Tour | Westword
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Paramount Theatre Welcomes Lewis Black on His Final Tour

Known for his ferocious comedy style, Lewis Black has been a standup comedian for over thirty years and is retiring from touring to focus on his podcast and writing.
Lewis Black performs at Paramount on Friday, February 2.
Lewis Black performs at Paramount on Friday, February 2. Courtesy of Joey L. (for ACLU)
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After more than 35 years as a touring standup comedian, the two-time Grammy-winning king of rants, Lewis Black, is hitting the road for "Goodbye, Yeller Brick Road: The Final Tour," which hits the Paramount Theatre on February 2.

"It’s sad, in part, because of the way it’s ending," Black reflects. "The pandemic ruined my five-year plan — it was the only time I had ever made a five-year plan, and look what happened! ... I’ll still do some shows, but not at the same volume. I won’t be running around the country doing 120 to 150 shows a year. It's just a bit much. I'm grateful, but I'd like to do some writing and maybe some more acting. ... It really is the end of a tour. People could basically rely on me coming back every two years, and I loved it, I really did, so it's hard to let go."

It's clear that while he’s stepping away from the grueling tour schedule, his creative flame is far from extinguished. Known for his ferocious comedy style, Black has been a consistent staple in the standup world. His trademark yelling and emphatic finger-pointing have skewered life’s absurdities, making audiences laugh at the insanity (and hypocrisy) in our world.

Black's career is a mosaic of extraordinary accomplishments, ranging from millions of views on standup specials to writing dozens of plays and serving as the longest-running contributor to The Daily Show. He has performed around the world, including a performance at Carnegie Hall and two successful Broadway runs. As Black reflects on his work, he recalls the pivotal moment when he felt like he had made it: receiving a message from George Carlin.

"I had a message on my answering machine; I turned it on and it was George Carlin," he recalls. "Not a lot of people knew me at that time. I'd done some work on The Daily and maybe a special, but there wasn’t a lot. He left me this wonderful message. He said that he heard my stuff and thought I was really funny. I made him laugh, and I remember thinking, 'One of my heroes in comedy called me; that's bigger than anything I'm going to get!' And I thought, ‘If he likes it, then screw everything else. I'm fine.’ I may not make money at it, but if George Carlin liked it, that's really what mattered. It was like if your teacher said, ‘It's really good work.’ It put a big smile on my face, which is unusual for me to be smiling."

Although he's stepping away from touring, Black is not slowing down. He's set to return as the character Anger in Pixar's Inside Out 2, which is set for release on June 14.

"What I enjoy most about voice acting is that I don’t have to worry about moving around," he quips. "Working with Pixar is a dream. It's one of the most creative places in the universe. Whether they have a hit or not doesn't matter. What makes working with them a joy is the level of creativity they work at and the pleasure everybody seems to take. It's the one gig that I've ever had in terms of film or television, and even in terms of animation, where you are involved in seeing the whole creative process. I hate to use this word, but I will: It’s magical."

Additionally, he’s eagerly anticipating Jon Stewart's return to The Daily Show on Monday nights beginning February 12.

"We ended up with a different audience with Trevor [Noah] — there was a whole other group that discovered it, and the people who love Jon Stewart went away," Black says. "Now, those people will hopefully come back and watch again. I'm not one of the ones who believes that we need somebody to host. ... We're fine; there's a lot of stuff that we can do, especially because we have a talented staff. They told me that I was going to be able to be in the chair for a few nights, so I'm very excited about it, but I think it'll help to have Jon's eye around and help get us focused on a certain level, especially in terms of the upcoming election."

For those lucky enough to catch him at the Paramount, at the Boulder Theater on February 3, or in Fort Collins at the Lincoln Center Performance Hall on February 4, expect the unexpected.

“I’m going to try some songs for the first time," Black jokes. "No, but I’m turning the corner on the last chapter and figuring out what will essentially be my last special. You know, we get more insane by the day. People go, ‘Make this issue funny,’ but to me, a lot of it already is funny. When you're banning books, you've lost your mind. It's got to be a joke. They're worried about kids reading books in the library. Don't they know there's an Internet, you idiots? They don't even need to go to the library. Honestly, if people want to keep those books hidden, you should put the books in the student library."

Black's horizons include penning another book; expanding his podcast, RantCast, to include live recordings; and working on a new play. "Now that I don't have to tour all the time, I can go to comedy clubs and watch my friends," he says. "It'll be good. And then from time to time, I'll pop up and open for somebody. I'm also trying to work on a play that is my version of Our Town. We'll see how that goes and what else happens."

While Black may be retiring from the road, his voice, as fiery and poignant as ever, will continue to echo in theaters, books and perhaps on the occasional club stage. "I'll see you next time," he promises, and we can hardly wait.

Lewis Black, Friday, February 2, at the Paramount Theatre, 1621 Glenarm Place. Get tickets at lewisblack.com.
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