Lewis Black is one of the most prolific and popular performers working today. He executes a brilliant trifecta as stand-up comedian, actor and author. Receiving critical acclaim, he performs over 200 nights a year to sold-out audiences throughout Europe, New Zealand, Canada and the United States. He is one of few performers to sell out Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Brooks Atkinson Theatre, New York City Center and the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. In August 2007, he was the first stand-up comedian ever to perform in concert at the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles.
Black's live performances provide a cathartic release of anger and disillusionment for his audience. A passionate performer who is more pissed-off optimist than mean-spirited curmudgeon, he's perfected expressing what the rest of us cannot say in polite company. Its no wonder hes been compared to Mort Sahl, Lenny Bruce, and Bill Hicks.
Black was born in Washington D.C. and raised in Silver Spring, MD. Colicky as a baby, it seems he was destined to be angry and irritated easily. His mother, a teacher, and his father, a mechanical engineer, instilled in both Black and his younger brother Ron the importance of education and the necessity to question authority, lessons which have influenced Black throughout his private and professional life. When Black was 12, his father took him to his first play and he quickly fell in love with the theatre. This ultimately led Black to pursue a career in drama. Degrees followed from the University of North Carolina and Yale Drama School, with a stint in Colorado owning a theatre with a group of friends in the interim. During his tenure at UNC, Black first ventured into stand-up, performing at Cats Cradle in Chapel Hill. Stand-up continued to be a steady presence as he pursued his career in theatre.
Black eventually settled in New York City. He became the playwright-in-residence at the West Bank Cafés Downstairs Theatre Bar. Black oversaw the development of more than 1,000 plays, including works by Aaron Sorkin, Alan Ball as well as his own original works. In addition to overseeing the works on stage, Black emceed every show. As the West Bank grew, so did his skill as a comic. Eventually the fulfillment of performing stand-up outweighed that of working in the theater. Having found his public voice, Black left the West Bank in the late 80s to pursue stand-up full time.
In 1996, his friend Lizz Winstead tapped him to create a weekly segment for a show she was producing on Comedy Central called "The Daily Show". The segment, a three-minute rant about whatever was bothering him at the moment, evolved into "Back in Black." It became one of the most popular and longest running segments on the show, as well as a long and successful relationship with the network. Since then, Black has taped four stand-up specials for the Comedy Central Presents series, co-created Last Laugh with Lewis Black, presides over his show Lewis Black's the Root of All Evil, and continues to perform "Back in Black" on "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart." His popular appearances on Comedy Central helped to win him Best Male Stand-Up at the American Comedy Awards in 2001.
Increased exposure from "The Daily Show" eventually generated a record deal with Stand Up! Records. His first CD, The White Album, was released in 2000 to much critical acclaim. Black followed with seven more, five under the Comedy Central Records label. He has been honored with two Grammy nominations and one win for his work. The first nomination came in 2006 for Luther Burbank Performing Arts Center Blues, the second in 2009 for Anticipation. In 2007 he won the Grammy for best comedy album for the Carnegie Hall performance.
Having developed a strong relationship with HBO, he's filmed two specials, "Black on Broadway" and "Red, White and Screwed." The latter was nominated for an Emmy in 2007. He had a regular feature for two seasons on Inside the NFL and in 2006 was honored to be asked to participate in Comic Relief.
A much sought after guest for several late-night television shows, hes been seen on "Larry King Live," was a frequent performer on "Late Night with Conan O'Brien" and "The Late Show with David Letterman." Hes made memorable appearances on CNN and is particularly happy to have contributed to MSNBC's "Countdown with Keith Olbermann."
In the midst of a rigorous touring schedule, regular TV appearances and movie roles, Black has written two best selling books, "Nothing's Sacred" and "Me of Little Faith." Both garnered critical praise as well commercial success and spent numerous weeks on The New York Times best seller list.
As a playwright Black has penned over 40 plays, many of which have been produced around the country. "The Deal," a dark comedy about business, was made into a short film in 1998 and picked up by the Sundance Channel. In 2005, Garry Marshall's Falcon Theatre in Los Angeles produced "One Slight Hitch," a play that was later seen in 2006 at the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Centers Patel Conservatory.
In 2006, Black had a break out year as an actor. He co-starred with Robin Williams in Barry Levinson's "Man of the Year," appeared as the fake dean of a fake college in Steve Pinks "Accepted," as the harried airport manager in Paul Feigs "Unaccompanied Minors." He also lent his voice to the role of Jimmy in Bob Sagat's parody, "Farce of the Penguins."
In addition to his professional pursuits, Black is dedicated to a number of charitable organizations. As a longtime mentor with the 52nd Street Project, Black was roasted in Charred Black 2007 which drew the largest fundraising numbers in the Projects history. Hes a member of their Advisory Board, is Co-Chair of their Capital Campaign and in 2000, the Ron Black Memorial Scholarship Fund was created in memory of his late brother. He is also committed to raising funds for the Rusty Magee Clinic for Families and Health. Hes a strong supporter of both the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and Autism Speaks and was recently honored by The Brady Center for his commitment to ending gun violence. At the Williamstown Theatre Festival he established the William Foeller Fellowship and taught and performed there for more than a decade. Black also is a strong supporter of our military personnel and recently became involved with the USO. He has toured in several of the Middle East and European military bases over the last two years and hopes to continue his association with the USO for many years to come.
Today Black maintains residences in both Manhattan and Chapel Hill, NC. Still loyal to his alma mater, hes worked with UNC students to create the Carolina Comedy Festival, a yearly festival on the UNC campus that not only highlights performances, but also provides workshops and lectures for budding comics, writers and performers. With his involvement at UNC, he continues a life-long commitment to education and the arts.
In his leisure time, Black likes to play golf, even though golf hates him.