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March 06, 2017

Lewis Black's discovered the secret of life

Veteran comic will be at the Borgata in Atlantic City this weekend

Comedians Interviews
LewisBlack_1 Clay McBride/for PhillyVoice

“Do what you enjoy, not what you believe will make you wealthy,” Black says.

When Lewis Black is in mid-salvo, the veteran comic looks anything but happy. His lips are flopping and tongue flying as he skewers his subject in his familiar demonstrative manner.

There are many subjects which upset Black. However, the entertainer is surprisingly relaxed, almost serene offstage, since he figured out the secret of life.

“Do what you enjoy, not what you believe will make you wealthy,” Black said while calling from his Manhattan apartment.

That’s the opposite of how most parents think, according to a Washington Post front page feature, which hit print last year. The piece claims that 60 percent of American parents discourage their children from pursuing a liberal arts degree.

“I don’t understand that way of thinking,” Black said.

“You only live once. I’m doing better now than I could have ever imagined. But I’m no happier now than when I was a struggling playwright during the ‘80s. I had no money then, but the common denominator is that I was doing what I loved back then and the same can be said for now. It’s crazy how successful I’ve become. But what I do hasn’t changed all that much since I started out.”

Black performs March 10 and 11 at the Borgata in Atlantic City. 

Clay McBride/for PhillyVoice

Lewis Black

At 68, he is placid during interviews, but it doesn’t take much for him to lose it onstage. That’s perfect, since bitterness becomes Black just like the late, legendary comic George Carlin was at his best when caustic.

“I know I’m funnier when I’m angry,” Black said.

“When I lose it, watch out. The weird thing is that I didn’t know I was funnier when I was mad until I was well into my adulthood. It’s an odd thing, but I’ve embraced it. I never would have guessed being angry would be good for my career. After shows, people will come up and ask me to take photos with them. They’ll ask me to flip the bird at the camera. It’s so strange, but I’m giving the people what they want. I can’t believe the career that I have.”     

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Black acknowledges that it would be more difficult to jumpstart his career if he was a fledgling humorist today.

“It’s so much more expensive in New York City now,” Black said.

“The cost of living in New York is insane. I don’t know how young people do it today. How do you go to New York after college? How can someone just starting out afford it? Even crappy neighborhoods in Brooklyn are super expensive. It’s horrible and that’s going to impact the arts.”

But even with economic adversity, Black urges those hoping to enter his ranks to go for it.

“This is not about your parents,” Black said.

“It’s about you. Do what you love to do. Money isn’t everything. How can you do something five days a week, all day long that you hate doing? Don’t let your parents impact what you decide on for a career. Do what you love and the hell with them. Money is not the answer to everything. I loved Robin Williams. When he died, some people wondered how he could kill himself since he was so rich. Well, there’s more to life than money. Trust me, I know what it was like to be happy and not have much. Those were good days.”

For tickets and more information on his upcoming appearance in Atlantic City, click here