Comedian Lewis Black returns to Chapel Hill
Stand-up comedian Lewis Black has always felt at home in Chapel Hill, so much so that more than 40 years after he graduated, he still has a second house here.
Black will return to his alma mater this weekend to perform two nights of stand-up comedy as a part of the Carolina Union Activities Board’s 10th annual Carolina Comedy Festival — an event that he both helped create and has been featured in for several years.
Black graduated in 1970, but he continues to return to the University that he said made him feel unexpectedly welcome.
“It was weird because I visited a bunch of campuses when I was looking around, and I felt this was where I belonged,” he said.
Black said he is anticipating his return to UNC because he loves feeling the students’ energy, inquisitiveness and optimism when he performs.
“College is one of the only times in your life that is filled with limitless possibilities,” he said.
And this energy, he said, is the biggest perk of his career.
“It’s hearing people laugh and feeling their energy — and being able to say whatever I want,” he said.
Black has won two Grammy Awards and gained prominence from a segment on “The Daily Show.”
Black said the biggest downside of being a comedian is the solitude that comes with the job.
“It’s a lonelier life than people know,” he said.
Black will be the headline performer in the comedy festival this weekend, and he is encouraging UNC students to attend.
“There are very few campuses that do anything like this, so you should avail yourself to this opportunity,” he said.
But Black will not be the only one in the spotlight.
Ben Long, chairman of CUAB’s comedy committee, said Black has been integral in bringing other supporting comedians to the festival.
“He is the driving force behind everything,” he said.
Long said Black has also been instrumental in promoting comedy on campus and helping comedians perfect their craft through the growth of the festival.
“It’s great that this festival has been going on for 10 years and providing this great service to students,” Long said.
Kyle Rainey, another a member of CUAB’s comedy committee, said Black is a prime inspiration for aspiring comedians at UNC — for his voice, frankness and distinct craft in performance.
“When he does start complaining about things here and there, it’s always a joy to sit back and hear him rant at stuff,” he said.
And Black said he has simple advice for aspiring comedians.
“You just have to go do it again, and do it again,” he said. “The learning curve is brutal.”
Black said he had no words to describe his experience as a student at UNC.
“It was the totality of the experience,” he said with a laugh.
“How mystical is that?”
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