When Lewis Black was chosen as the voice of Anger in Pixar's Oscar-winning Inside Out, it seemed like the textbook definition of typecasting.
The comedian is known for his rants of righteous indignation, both on his segment on The Daily Show and in his standup. The latter brings him Saturday to the Capitol Theatre in Clearwater on The Emperor's New Clothes: The Naked Truth tour. Additionally, Black will be in Woody Allen's still-untitled television show for Amazon, reuniting him with the director after making his on-screen debut in 1986's Hannah and Her Sisters.
Speaking to the Times via phone, Black discussed being a socialist during Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign, getting involved with Inside Out, having his greatest audition with Allen and more. Here are excerpts.
What sort of topics are you tackling in new material you're performing?
Part of it has to do with mental health. Part of it has to do with what is my job, how am I supposed to make funny things that are already funny and am I really necessary anymore? How do you satirize what is already satiric? Why are we subjecting ourselves to what is the longest (political) nominating process on the planet Earth when in the end if you probably ask most people what's your favorite people they're voting for, they're not that excited about it? It's just extraordinary.
How do you feel about Bernie Sanders running in this election?
I'm thrilled that a socialist is running for office in my lifetime. I've never had a candidate, so to me, that's huge. One thing I've learned as I've grown older is nothing happens quickly in this country. The only thing that happens quickly is stupidity — that seems to pop up fast on any given day. It's part of the political process. At least it's out there now and the kids actually seem to be paying attention to him. That's what freaks a lot of these guys out. They've basically turned (socialism) into a dirty word and that's happened over the course of my lifetime. When I was a kid … they were seen as eccentric, now it's like some sort of evil empire. It's not communism.
What would you say is the difference working on the two versions of The Daily Show?
Jon ended up making it his, and Trevor just hasn't had that kind of time yet. It's going to take him a while for him to step into that. So it's a matter of just time, really. I think the correspondents we have are terrific. So they have a really great group and it's just a matter of they learn while they go.
What was it like on Jon Stewart's final night?
That was great, that was what you would call a high. It was just extraordinary, seeing all the people who've worked together over that time period. It was overwhelming.
How did you get involved with Inside Out?
They got in touch with me and asked if I wanted to be Anger. It was that simple. … Apparently from what (director) Pete Docter said, I was part of their pitch, the idea of these emotions and imagine Lewis Black playing Anger. So I was one of the first people that they got in touch with.
What does that movie mean to you?
When I saw it, I said, "I wish I'd seen this when I was 10 and I wouldn't had to spend the last 20 years paying a psychiatrist." I didn't know what emotions probably were until I was 17.
You'll be on Woody Allen's new Amazon series as well. What can you say about that at this point?
I can't say anything because he doesn't send you the whole script. I guess I can say the people that I run into who are in it are some of New York's best actors. My scene is with Becky Ann Baker as my wife — she's the mother in Girls; she's Lena Dunham's mother. I've known Becky forever. … I keep on hearing names of people who are in it and they're all people that I deeply respect. So I don't know how I got into it.
That brings you full-circle because your first on-screen role was Hannah and Her Sisters, right? What was that like?
Yes, it was. It was great. I did an audition with him a while back in which he asked to see me and I'd have to fly back. I went, "Oh God, all right." He's like the only person I'd fly back for. … He said, "I needed to see you because I'm casting this movie and you're right for this, so don't worry about your reading at all. I just need to take a look, I need to see if you're too young to be the husband of the woman I've already cast." I thought, "This is the greatest audition I've ever had because I'm either going to get it because I'm talented or if I don't get it, it's because I was too young."
Contact Jimmy Geurts at [email protected] or (813) 226-3402. Follow @JimmyGeurts.