For those who don't know, I've interviewed dozens of comedians in my years as a reporter. You can find the profiles in my "Famous and Funny People" blog section on my site, www.americasfunniestreporter.com. This interview was with Lewis Black at Vroman's Bookstore in Pasadena, CA on Friday, June 20, 2008 after he did a hilarious Q&A with the audience at a book signing for his new collection of essays, "Me of Little Faith." This interview hasn't appeared anywhere but here so enjoy...
America's Funniest Reporter: Nobody seems as crazy as they did in the Bush elections about religion, but the fringe keeps saying that Obama’s a Muslim. So how do you feel religion is playing out in this election? Is it a factor?
BLACK: I think it’s playing out a little less, but it just gets stupid. It’s playing out stupid. Before it was idiotic and now we’ve moved to stupid. They say Obama is a Muslim because they can’t say bad things. They can’t use the other words they’d like to say, so they come up with that as the excuse.
AFR: Do you think we’re moving past this permanently?
BLACK: Yeah, I think so. I think most Americans are tired of it. Once you have a president who says he’s religious, but people see he’s just insane, they pick up on it. I think people are sick of it. You see it even with the born-agains, saying these people have got to just stop it. I think it’s the end of it. And a lot of that outpouring had to do with 9/11. That’s how people respond when the shit hits the fan.
AFR: Do you think that when things calmed down and saw more trouble wasn’t coming they backed off from it?
BLACK: Yeah, I think so and they’re sick of it. Look – you can be on your hands and knees all you want but you gotta know how to fix things. Look there’s a flood now in the Midwest and they’re still putting up sandbags. No amount of prayer, you can pray whatever, but we ended up in the position where they didn’t do the basics. Look that was in ’93 that the place flooded. They were told in ’93 to build a larger embankment, and they didn’t. We have to start doing things when they do something and go, yeah now we gotta get it done.
AFR: So this is a problem that goes across other administrations.
BLACK: It goes across all of ‘em. This country’s never dealt with its problems, always fooling around with other crap.
AFR: Some people act like Obama is the Messiah. What is your reaction to that?
BLACK: I think the kids are reacting to something they’ve never heard, which is hope.
AFR: Do you have faith in him?
BLACK: I don’t have that much faith anymore. Hope is a great thing if you’re 22. I’m 60. Hope’s not that big a deal. Hope to me is that the hotel I stay in will have a breakfast buffet tomorrow. That would be nice. I think what he’s doing is great. I think what’s really amazing is that people go “God he speaks so well.” Like there’s something wrong with that. How do we know he can do anything? Well if he can speak that way he can focus people. That’s the important thing. Whether he gets anything done with the idiots wandering around is another thing. I don’t think it’s that difficult. It’s just here’s what the liberals think, here’s what the conservatives think, let’s meet in the middle and move on. Something’s gotta give.
AFR: Gay marriage is fresh in the news, and All Saints Church here is the most liberal church in America and has said they'll crank out gay weddings as fast as they get asked. So how do you think gay marriage will play out in relation to faith? Are people chilling out about it?
BLACK: In a sense it’s – it’s a hell of a thing to compare it to, but abortion. States allowed abortion, and eventually it became the law of the land. It’ll take a number of years because it has to do with ignorance. If people don’t spend time with gay people, they don’t get it. It’s a concept and a concept that weirds them the shit out. All you have to do is get out in the country 20 minutes to see that they’re not exposed to it. Compare this to parts of the country, it’s like 10 years ahead out here. They just got cable!
AFR: Has there been any presidential candidate ever that didn’t let you down?
BLACK: No! No, not really. Look all that had to happen, all my generation had to do was legalize pot and they couldn’t do it. It’s that simple. I mean really, that was it. They couldn’t even do the basics. I was reading an article by a friend of mine today. Hemp can’t be grown in this country. You’ve gotta be kidding me. Not even cannabis – hemp! It’s a law that’s 40, 50, 60 years old
AFR: What do you want to be doing next?
BLACK: Next? Lying down.
AFR: No, your next big project?
BLACK: I do the show, it goes back on the air July 30. I go back on tour, the CD comes out August 5 and then I do a run in New York but after that I don’t know. I may do a movie this summer but it doesn’t look like it.