Lewis Black is back. The New York Jewish comic with a razor-sharp tongue and even sharper social and political observations returns to the Southland Feb. 5 at the Wiltern LG after selling out The Grove of Anaheim last year. Black, a commentator on Comedy Central's "The Daily Show With Jon Stewart" and author of the upcoming book, "Nothing Sacred," said he can't wait to get on the road and vent to an audience. His trademark rasp rising with anger, he shared his thoughts on L.A. traffic, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, gay marriage and other subjects.
The Jewish Journal: You're coming to L.A. Are you excited about that?
Lewis Black: No, I'm never excited about coming to L.A. I like L.A., but I don't know how you people can live there. Mudslides all the time. Houses on stilts. You live on a fault line. Good move. What I really like is when I come in and they say that we're going to go down to Irvine. 'Cuz, you know, when you're going to travel two and a half hours to get there -- five hours round-trip from L.A. -- you should be somewhere else. Maybe in a different state. To sit in that traffic, you've got to wonder what people are thinking. What, do they like the illusion of walking? That's what I like to do, sit in my car and feel like I'm walking. On the other hand, maybe they can listen to tapes and learn five, six or 10 foreign languages a year.
JJ: What in your opinion of Gov. Schwarzenegger?
LB: You've elected a guy who shouldn't have been elected anything by any standard at any time in the history of the country. And he's your governor. What's his qualification for leadership other than "Terminator 3?" What? When he was elected, that's when I decided democracy doesn't work. The good news is anybody can be elected. The bad news is anybody can be elected. You guys proved it. And they should take away your statehood if you vote for him again. After he wins, he said, "The last thing we should be doing is borrowing," and then he borrows. You need to elect him to borrow money? On top of that, he got a bad deal. I've given up on you.
JJ: How did you feel the morning after President Bush won reelection?
LB: The same way I would have felt if the other idiot had won. There's no pain for me. It was painful for me when the nominations came in. As soon as they nominated these two guys I knew we were in trouble. You had a guy who went to war running against a guy who voted for war. You had no choice. Kerry ran with a "special child": John Edwards, a man who smiled so much that part of his brain had to have been scooped out. And Cheney was a psychotic homeless person, who, during the [vice presidential] debates, was like talking to his microwave oven. Really, it was disgusting from beginning to end.
JJ: Ohio has lost thousands of manufacturing jobs in recent years but still went for President Bush. What, if anything, is wrong with Ohio?
LB: If Bush had lost Ohio, he would have lost the goddamn election. Don't think I didn't punish them. I'm not going back. I was in four cities in Ohio after the election and asked them how they could do this, and they couldn't give me an explanation. Right now, I'm done with them for awhile.
JJ: Any thoughts of moving to Canada or Mexico?
LB: No, they're not as funny. And this is my country.
JJ: Is the United States winning the war in Iraq?
LB: If you think we're winning the war in Iraq, then you have to be in a coma. I'm just watching TV and I know we're not winning. You don't win when we're losing that many people. I know we can't be winning because I have more people in the military coming to my shows. If young soldiers are paying attention to me, then something's not happening that should be happening. Something's wrong.
JJ: If you were president of the U.S., what would your Iraq policy be?
LB: My Iraq policy would be to say to the rest of the world: "We made a big mistake and could you help us? I don't know how this happened, but we're sorry."
The bottom line is that I don't want to lose any more kids. You know what this war is like? It's like watching Vietnam speeded up. I'll make a prediction. The [Iraqi] election will be like the Tet Offensive. There will be total chaos and violence. And why would we try to sell democracy to anyone when we don't even like it ourselves? When almost half your country doesn't go to the voting booth, what are you selling? What are you saying? You're saying, "Well, you're going to love democracy because you don't have to do it."
JJ: A higher percentage of Jews are voting Republican. Do you think Jewish Republicans are visionaries or blind?
LB: If you're a Jewish Republican, the level of stupidity is beyond belief. It's like being a gay Republican or a black Republican. You're f--ing kidding me. Do you need your money protected that badly? Look, the rightwing Christians voted for [Bush]. Shouldn't they [Jewish Bush supporters] have taken a moment and paid attention to that? Oh, [Republican Jews] say those Christians are big on Israel. F--- you!. Yeah, the Christians love Israel. They do. That's because that's where they're going to send us. One of the great joys of being Jewish is to understand and appreciate the concept of uniqueness. Well, Republicans don't. Democrats vaguely do. Uniqueness scares the Republicans.
JJ: Let's talk about Jewish Democrats. Are they progressive or regressive?
LB: If you're Republican, you're depressive. And if you're a Democrat, you're a regressive. The only way you'd become a progressive is if you spent the energy trying to start a third party. I'm a socialist. Hello, that's where all the Jews started, most of the Jews. That might be progressive.
JJ: What's wrong with the Democrats?
LB: I don't know. I never was really into the parties. With Democrats and Republicans you basically have people who didn't have the energy to join a bowling league. And neither of these teams is any good.
JJ: What are your thoughts on gay marriage?
LB: Who cares. On the list of the things we have to worry about as a people gay marriage is on page six, after "are we eating too much garlic?" If you're actually worried about gay marriage, then you need a hobby. After Sept. 11, if gay marriage is even on your radar, you're an idiot.
JJ: What do you think about the possible privatization of social security?
LB: Nobody knows what it means. Nobody knows, not even him. I know what it means. You should set up shop as a financial adviser, because that's where the money's going to be. You can screw anyone you want. Social security is supposed to be a safety net, and now they're taking that away.
Lewis Black appears Saturday, Feb. 5 at 8 p.m. at The Wiltern LG, on the corner of Wilshire Boulevard and Western Avenue. $29.75-$37.75. For tickets, visit www.ticketmaster.com or call (213) 480-3232.