Lewis Black is still a month away from bringing his comedic vitriol to the Broadway stage in his one-man show Running on Empty, but with the Democratic and Republican National Conventions topping recent headlines, the politically-inclined comedian still has plenty on his mind—a mind which, coincidentally enough, got its start in the theater.
Black—who began writing plays in high school—revealed what first drew him to the medium in an interview with The AV Club. “I’ve always really liked theater. It fascinated me,” said the comedian. “I’m not an athlete, so to me it was as close as you could get to athletics in an intellectual fashion. I’d listen to people’s conversations and think, ‘I can write something more interesting than that.’ I’d lock myself up and try to think of shit that was more interesting and really drive myself crazy.”
As a writer, Black drew inspiration from some of theater’s most revolutionary playwrights: Arthur Miller, Tennessee Williams, Samuel Beckett, Sam Shepard and Anton Chekhov, to name a few. The comic has been working on one specific play, One Slight Hitch, for three decades. “It’s the play that I thought was going to help me get known as a writer. This play is 30 years old. We’ve done about four workshops." The show will be staged at New Jersey's George Street Playhouse in October, but Black is still constantly at work on the piece. "Last night I found myself re-writing again and I just thought, ‘What the fuck is wrong with me?’”
One project Black no longer has to fret on: his latest stand-up special In God We Rust. The show will air September 7 on Comedy Central. Running on Empty plays Broadway's Richard Rodgers Theatre October 9-14.