Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Black takes a chill pill

By Tappan Parker

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An older crowd was found packing into the Calvin Theater last Friday evening, awaiting the comedic ranting of Lewis Black. John Bowman, a fellow comedian, joined Black on stage. The last time Black was in the area was for UMass’ First Week 2007.

John Bowman is a comedian and actor who has performed in a number of television shows, most notably Seinfeld and Miami Vice. He has also taken a number of serious theater roles with actors such as James Earl Jones and Bruce Weitz. He has been touring with Black since 2008.

Black is best known for his occasional segments on the Daily Show, called “Back in Black,” on which he rants about various political subjects which infuriate him. In addition, Black has hosted a number of standup specials on Comedy Central and even briefly hosted his own show, “The Root of All Evil.” Black’s current tour is titled “In God We Rust.”

Bowman opened up for Black with a half-hour set, discussing everything from gambling to airport security, and delving into the 90 percent of your brain that is put there just to mess with the other 10 percent. Bowman began by making fun of the front row of the audience as they were taking their seats, before moving on to talk about Northampton itself. He went so far as to pick up his ukulele, conveniently placed on stage, to sing about Northampton.

Bowman’s performance was hilarious, especially his audience interaction bits. At one point he got off the stage to hug an audience member, and proceeded to poke fun at that audience member by asking him about his level of sensitivity. Bowman’s act, which was heavily improvised, was hilarious, and definitely stood on par with Black’s comedy.

After an intermission, Black took the stage, but not before being announced by a crew member who rushed on stage to deliver a few notes from a horn. Before Black got started, he made sure to warn the audience about what they were getting into. Black tends to be on the offensive side and was sure to mention this before discussing what others have said about his show.

Black moved on from this to talk about the political correctness of people in Northampton, the one time he took LSD and forgot his own name, the iPhone and the Droid, and his age. Black seemed to stay away from politics for the most part, something he is well known for. While he did make brief political mentions, mostly about Republicans, he stayed on lighter, day-to-day topics.

Black’s anger level seems to have calmed down a bit. His stand-up show was not as filled with the angry, boisterous rants many have become accustomed to, and there were less of the on-stage mental breakdowns fans are used to seeing. However, this made the times when he did flip out even better.

 Black seemed to shriek at the crowd more than he did about some of the subjects he discussed. In one instance, while Black was discussing his switch from an iPhone to a Droid, a number of audience members began cheering. Black immediately turned towards that section of the audience and began yelling, “You do not cheer for an inanimate object!”

While calmer than normal, Black’s performance was nonetheless hilarious. Despite the fact that he was less angry, he was still just as offensive and swore just as much as usual. Black’s latest tour is definitely something worth checking out. He is always a delight to see live and still remains one of the few people who can make you laugh when he is yelling at you.

Tappan Parker can be reached at [email protected]

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