Lewis Black can’t wrap his brain around the formidable opposition to Harry Reid in the senate majority leader’s home state.
"There are five or six people in the country who have a certain amount of power to funnel money to their states, and you’ve got one of them," says the bespectacled comic, who brings his red-faced political diatribes to The Mirage this weekend.
"So even if he was an orangutan, what could you possibly, as a group of people, be thinking? He funnels money to the state! That’s what he does! That’s the gig!"
Spittle audibly rattles as Black, 62, unleashes this and other rants into his cell phone before a gig on Long Island, N.Y.
"I realize that Mr. Reid is not the most charismatic person, and he’s certainly not somebody I would race to embrace, but –" Black continues, shifting his crosshairs to Reid’s opponent, Sharron Angle: "Some of the stuff that’s come out of her mouth — most of which I’ve repressed — has been astonishing. There was stuff that she said and I went, ‘No, she didn’t say that.’ It’s stunning!"
Black continues boiling his own blood: "There was really no one else around? Nobody?!"
Still, if Angle emerges victorious on Nov. 2, Black kind of does, too. The more he loathes political currents, the better things go for his career in bile-spewing.
"In a way," Black admits. "Except, this is way over the top. I don’t need it to be this far out."
Black’s position won’t surprise anyone familiar with his guest editorials on Comedy Central’s "The Daily Show." The product of a middle-class Jewish upbringing in Silver Spring, Md. — and a Yale postgraduate education — the former playwright is the most prominent American socialist in pop culture.
"It makes me so psychotic when I read the argument against taxing rich people, that I can’t even begin to come to grips with defining a joke about it," he says. "And now they say that President Obama is a socialist, which I really find offensive. There are eight socialists left. You know what? We have no party. You have nothing to fear from us.
"My party is in the graveyard, you morons!"
One of only a few subjects that doesn’t chafe Black’s drawers during this interview is Las Vegas itself. Cockles warm as Black speaks about the town that hosts his largest audiences twice a year.
"What I really like about Vegas is the optimism," Black says. "You guys show more faith in the American economy than anyone. You’re the epicenter of faith. You just built the Cosmopolitan. You finished that big city in the midst of everything and then you go, ‘Wait, I’ve got another idea!’ "
That last bit was sarcastic, of course. Black realizes that construction has mostly stopped and that Las Vegas has a high unemployment rate and leads the nation in foreclosures.
"But it’ll come back," he says. "Every time I thought you guys were wrong, you’ve been right. This is the first time there’s been a glitch."
To get over our glitch, Black recommends doing absolutely nothing.
"Don’t worry," he says. "The one thing you can rely on is America’s appetite for gambling. If they can’t come up with another bubble, the American public will go back to where the bubble really is — which is in the casino."
Even the many Las Vegans who oppose Black politically have to hope he’s right about that.
"I do, too," Black says, "because I need to keep coming out there."
Contact reporter Corey Levitan at clevitan@ reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0456.Preview
Who: Lewis Black
When: 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday
Where: The Mirage, 3400 Las Vegas Blvd. South.
Tickets: $59-$79 (800-963-9634)