Fortunately, Lewis Black serves as our collective shriek against the madness in his "Back in Black" segment on The Daily Show. "Do baseball players take steroids?" he recently yelled on the show, nearly leaping out of his seat. "Here's a hint: YES!"
With his convulsive broadcast tirades -- about everything from guns, New York City's new nickname (the World's Second Home) and even the twin Starbucks stores in River Oaks -- nearly causing him cardiac arrest, Black has needed an outlet beyond television. For him, it's been Nothing's Sacred, a book he penned to explain his know-it-all, you're-such-a-dumbass point of view. It's a snapshot into Black's brain, jumping from topic to topic with chapters that span a mere paragraph to several pages. We learn that he graduated third in his Silver Springs, Maryland, high school class, how his activism in the '60s against oppression, racism and Republicans at Duke University and later Yale formed his current mentality -- and that he shit on his television when Richard Nixon won the presidency.
It's not surprising that his adoring public has found Nothing's Sacred, well, sacred. When we catch up with him at a hotel in Washington, he's so exhausted from his book and simultaneous stand-up tour, he's downright calm. When asked about his blood pressure, he says with a laugh, "God, I don't even think my blood has any pressure anymore."
Funny that he mentions God: In Nothing's Sacred, Black spares no words on Catholicism -- a faith, he says, that determines forgiveness with "eight Hail Marys and a side of fries." So he must love the hubbub over the pope's passing and the subsequent TV coverage, right? "Oh, it's spectacular," he says. "I mean, he was a great guy, but he's a pope, you know? And how will they replace him? Maybe whoever's head looks good on a plate. They've got those popey plates -- it's all about marketing, right? That's why we need the Death Channel."
The Death Channel?
"Yeah. Look at the last few weeks. All the networks have covered is death," he grumbles. "The pope. Schiavo -- I know more about Terri Schiavo's freakin' family than my own. I think I'm gonna give away feeding tubes with my book." He chuckles. "So if you really need more in-depth analysis on all this death, you can just go to the 24-hour Death Channel."
When Black comes to town this week to perform at the Improv and sign his new tome at Borders, you can expect tidbits like these, plus material on gay marriage, the Bible, the past elections and how to fix them. Just don't look for him to be overly genial, no matter how good of a read you find his fluid, hilarious book.
"People tell me it's a 'great read,' and they're like, 'I read it in four hours,' " he says with a tone of disgust. "And I'm like, 'Well, that's why it's a good read, you fuckin' idiot.' "
Hey, did he just call us a fuckin' idiot?