The famously angry comedian channels fans’ rage in a new Audible comedy series.By Shane BarnesApr 27, 2017 10:38 AM
After more than two decades making a living as a brilliant raving lunatic, Lewis Black is an undeniable icon of comedic outrage. He first crashed into the living rooms of America with his “Back in Black” segments on Comedy Central’s The Daily Show, where he was front and center as a disheveled mouthpiece for the country’s anger, a role he aimed at politics and presidents. Now he’s doing something different.
Black still makes those surprise appearances on The Daily Show, but lately he’s been spreading the gospel of rage across the world on extensive comedy tours, where he shouts truth at people in real life. In addition to performing his trademark red-faced standup, he’s been recording segments for a new Audible series, The Rant Is Due. It’s the perfect extension of Black’s firebrand persona, transforming him into a literal mouthpiece through which his fans can express their anger — because they’re the ones who have written all of his rants.
…being angry is an art. And Black is its master.
The resulting 5-minute episodes (three are released each week), find Black bringing his characteristic delivery — part sneer, part hiss, all yell — to the everyday trials of people who aren’t blessed with the opportunity to air their grievances to crowds of thousands. And these rants are mostly about the everyday, which puts Black’s pointed commentary on a more universal footing. Not everybody can agree on whether or not they like the current President of the United States or which laws are bad for their local economy, but almost everyone can agree that such a thing as “pumpkin spice sparkling cider” should (maybe) not exist.
The series marks a true expansion of Black’s rage horizon. Though his life has been interesting — he was a playwright in New York City for years before finding success with his comedy — his experience is just that: his. He doesn’t know what it’s like to be a gay Mormon, for instance, or how it feels to be a woman who has obviously experienced a very unhappy marriage. That particular experience is the inspiration for one of the most biting diatribes submitted to Black. It’s a lengthy, barbed set of proposed wedding vows intended for all those “brides-to-be facing the misery that will be the rest of their lives.” “I like when my comedy is as bitter as can be,” Black says before launching into the polemic, which sets its sights on false expectations in marriage and the man-children who hope that their wives should live up to the holy standards set by their own mothers.
Even when the series is political, it’s not so much about politics as it is about the annoying way politics can infect daily life as in, say, when friends and family spread that infamous fake news on social media. One such rant begins, “I’m sick and tired of amateur political pundits on Facebook going on and on about how much research they’ve done on a particular talking point to which they so relentlessly adhere. No you didn’t. You were sharing YouTube videos.” It’s a sentiment easily appreciated by those in both red and blue states.
That’s the type of thing Black is skewering on The Rant Is Due, and, though his nuclear rage might seem unwarranted when talking about something as trivial as the glut of pumpkin-spiced everything, that’s also the humor of it. Because, as it turns out, being angry is an art. And Black is its master.
Social media is not without its virtues, but one of its many pitfalls is that it can often seem that our digital self-expression is futile, destined to be forgotten. The Rant Is Due changes that. Think of Black’s endorsement as the ultimate retweet. Lewis Black is here for his fans, offering up his well-trained anger to sharpen and multiply their bitterness toward whatever it is they happen to hate today, whether it’s hairless cats or the sound of their neighbors having sex, so that thousands and thousands of other people can hear their enraged thoughts and think to themselves, “Hey, that sounds like me.”
Fans can submit their very own rants right here. It’s cheaper than a therapy session, and more satisfying, too. Who doesn’t want to hear their rants broadcast through the mouth of a very famous, very angry person?
The Rant is Due is now available on Channels in the Audible app. Runs 04/20 - 09/07, with 3 new episodes on Thursdays. Listen to a preview:
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