Monday, September 10, 2012

Lewis Black's "In God We Rust"

When I first told my wife there was a new album coming out from Lewis Black, her immediate response was, “Is he still mad?” Yes, he is, and as our friend Joanne put it, rightly so.

In God We Rust marks the return of everyone’s favorite funnyman whose exasperated fits of rage against society’s little annoyances have kept us laughing for years. Because of his excellent work on The Daily Show and his own past projects, he’s come to be known primarily as a politically-charged comedian. This time around, although still part of his act, politics take a back seat to other topics, primarily Black trying to wrap his mind around pop culture and current technology. 

Black, who usually spends his time railing equally against Democrats and Republicans (don’t think one party is more equipped than the other to keep us safe from terrorists), makes sure that the new kid on the block (the Tea Party) doesn’t feel left out and he goes at them with both barrels blazing. Black has always wished for a third party and now...let’s just say he should have be careful what he wished for. He does admit the Tea Party-ers appealed to him at first, but only because they were angry and crazy, an aspect to which Black felt he could relate.

Those familiar with Black’s comedy already know that, as eager as he is to take someone (or some thing) to task, he doesn’t shy away from the man in the mirror. When greeted with a resounding sea of applause at the onset of the CD, Black reacts with a baffled, “You’re more excited to see me than I’ve ever been to see myself.” From there he begins to explain why people shouldn’t be there and although he doesn’t want anyone to walk out of any of his shows, he completely understands why someone would.

As I mentioned earlier, Black lays off of the hot-button topics (except for abortion, which he freely admits he only talks about so he can hear the collective sound of every anus in the room snapping shut at the word’s mention) because there are other topics that need to be addressed, especially with Facebook and smart phones running rampant.

A former iPhone owner himself, Black is just as irked with the product (Good computer. Bad phone) as he is with those mysterious Apple employees who sell them. If you’ve ever been in a Mac store among the sea of blue-shirted drones creepily milling about, then you’ll understand why Black would suspect they are from another planet. 

Just as he gives equal time dressing down political parties, Black does the same thing here and although he has switched to a Droid phone, things haven’t necessarily gotten better. Where AT&T fixed his iPhone by essentially turning it back into a landline, his Droid took the liberty of expiring only days after his warranty did. 

Cue: conniption.

Regardless of the brand of phone in your pocket and despite the number of amazing apps available for it, Black still can’t understand why you would use an inanimate object to tell you where the best place is to find sushi in your area when there are actual people in the neighborhood around you who might have a better idea. But that would be crazy.

As much as Facebook gets on Black’s nerves, he is still able to see the silver lining. Goldman-Sachs has put the value of the website at $50 billion dollars (and if you can’t trust GS, who can you trust?), and if Facebook is worth that much, imagine how much REAL things are going to be worth!

Of course, it wouldn’t be a Lewis Black album if he didn’t mention the ever-present War on Terrorism, even if this time around they seem to have lost their sense of legitimate impending doom (for example, the terrorist whose mission was to blow up....Detroit). Any good bit on the current threat level usually dovetails nicely into the TSA and airport security and this album is no exception. Did a stranger pack your bags? If so, there’s a bigger problem to address. Seriously. Why would you let that happen?

As if Black didn’t have his hands full trying to make sense of those issues, he also has to contend with Jersey Shore cast-mates writing books, winking at Paul McCartney at a party, and wondering why Valentine’s Day has to land a mere six weeks after he blew his money on Christmas.

It’s no wonder Black sounds a little overwhelmed. He has a lot of ground to cover and, because he’s a comedian, he feels a responsibility to make it all funny (at the very least). I’m happy to report that Black succeeds quite readily, just as he always does. And if that means things like Farmville have to exist in order to give him something to talk about, I’m willing to take that hit.

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