Lewis Black has a new stand-up special running on Epix TV, and it’s subtitled “Live at the Borgata,” so I told him, “How dare you do it in Atlantic City instead of Vegas.”
Black, who performs Friday and Saturday at The Mirage, joked Atlantic City was a closer drive from his New York home.
Elfman: “You lazy bastard.”
Black (being serious): “No, it’s finances. It’s always finances. We had the crew. The Borgata helped out and pitched in, in terms of making it possible.”
Elfman: “Vegas just instituted a film tax incentive. We’re getting all these new movies filmed here. Shouldn’t there be some sort of hotel incentive to get people like you to do their specials here?”
Black: “That’s not a bad idea. It’s certainly possible I will (film in Vegas) next time.”
Elfman: “So what would it take from a hotel to convince you to do a special here?”
Black: “Rooms for the crew. A (price) break on the room where we’re shooting it in. They could make it easy to get the stuff in and out. We have these trucks filled with (stuff) in them.
“I shot a special on Broadway. We ended up getting deals, but it’s still (expensive). It’s a one-person show, and they’re, like, ‘That’ll be about $250,000.’ ‘You mean for a (expletive) microphone?’ ”
South Point headliner Ralphie May tells me a hotel incentive is a great idea: “The hotel would have to eat a lot of stuff, but it would be a permanent promotion for them. It would always be that special, ‘Lewis Black: From So-and-So Hotel.’ ”
Hotels and third-party promoters offer no such incentives, but generally they negotiate good deals benefiting performers’ regular gigs.
Elfman: “So what have you been up to?”
Black: “I just hosted a big benefit in New York for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. I never ask anybody, really, for anything. But we had Whoopi Goldberg, Joy Behar, Kathleen Madigan, Jon Stewart and Chris Bliss.
“They could be closing in on a cure, and I think it’s idiotic to not fund it. Since we don’t do that kind of thing (more heavily fund research through government money), because that would require taxes.
“It would take 3,000 people out from under a death sentence when they’re born. And it would be nice to cure something in my lifetime.”
Elfman: “It’s like what you’re saying, if we had more tax dollars going into research, we’d have quicker cures. I keep thinking of Sarah Palin saying: ‘How dare Michelle Obama for telling people they could stay in shape. We need the freedom to be stupid with no money living under a horrible system.’ What kind of freedom is that?”
Black: “It’s the freedom to suffer. If I ran against (New Jersey Gov. Chris) Christie, I would run against the fact that the federal government was going to drop a chunk of change into building another bridge into New York for cars and for trains. In 10 years or probably less, we’ll desperately need it. He turned it down, saying we can’t afford it. ... He then turned around and gave a ton of tax breaks ($260 million) to Revel, the new hotel in Atlantic City, which went bust.
“When I see him, I feel like I’m in fighting shape.”
Elfman: “I can’t look at him without thinking of ...”
Elfman: “Who’s going to win, Hillary or Jeb?”
Black: “We have two years till then. We don’t have to pay attention to it. By then, who knows where we’ll be. The way things are going, we could be fighting the Crimean War again.”
Doug Elfman’s column appears Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. He blogs at reviewjournal.com/elfman.