Jokes aside, Lewis Black has faith in the American people.
“I’ve always felt that,” Black said. “I don’t know how I get that across to people.”
A passionate comedian with a low threshold for bullshit, Black, known in part for his Daily Show appearances, is on tour. His performances are full of bluster and roiling frustration, anger and sarcasm -- but not cynicism. He knows the good people in the U.S. are capable of. In times of disaster, people flock to help complete strangers.
“It’s instinctive to help,” Black said.
But that faith doesn’t carry over to our current political leaders -- especially in the Trump administration.
“These people have appalled me,” he said. “It’s beyond disturbing. There are no adults -- none.”
Black points to Trump’s Twitter feed and the fact he used his office to attack teen climate activist Greta Thunberg. Trump’s actions no longer shock or disappoint him, he said. That no one in Trump’s party called him out -- that does.
“You got to be adults,” he said. “You got to say that’s not what an adult does when he’s president of the United States -- (Thunberg is) a child doing what she thinks is right, so shut the f--- up.”
Black’s new act generally stays away from politics -- or at least specific politicians.
A show about current politics wouldn’t be any fun for Black or his audience, he said.
“I can’t have them come away (from the show) saying, ‘I never wept so well in my life,’” he said. “I’ve got to entertain them.”
Even absent of specific politicians, issues he covers about daily life touch on politics. As pundits applaud a great economy, many Americans are struggling. He points to his parents -- his mom just turned 101. The money they set aside for retirement wasn’t meant to last this long, he said.
“I will tell you, no one expected my mother and father to live to 101,” he said. “Nobody’s prepared for any of this.”
Younger generations face a “gig economy” and decades of college debt.
“Who’s going to take care of you? The kid living in your basement? There’s your economy,” Black said. “If we had a great economy, addressing that would be part of the fabric of it.”
That political leaders have not addressed facilitating affordable healthcare is part of the problem, he added.
“Every other country on Earth has dealt with this,” he said. “Don’t tell me we can’t.”
Again, his faith in political leaders to figure it out is nil. His faith in people is unchanged.
“If you asked people to write down five things they want for them and their families, you put all those cards together, 90 percent would agree on everything,” he said.