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The Daily Tar Heel

Black Unleashes His Anger At UNC, World in Standup

The oft-enraged Black, a UNC alumnus whose success has garnered him a recurring spot on Comedy Central's "The Daily Show," chose Memorial Hall as his place to vent Monday night.

Black picked a number of targets to rant about, and he hit the bull's-eye with each one. His act covered everything from his drug-addled years at UNC to the Bush presidency to Starbucks signalling the end of the universe. His wrath was also incurred by last year's Superbowl halftime show. "I have 'NSync, Aerosmith and Britney Spears -- I have a trifecta from hell!" he screamed.

That scream is typical of Black, whose voice and demeanor toe the line between forcibly restrained and borderline psychotic.

He obviously has a large bone to pick with the commercialization of our culture, whether it be with music or coffee. And he's also not too fond of the Christian right and its hangups over the idea of evolution.

"We're debating both sides? No! Why? Fossils! I win," he hissed, his face contorting and his grip on the microphone stand tightening.

Whenever he was acting like a raving lunatic, Black always managed to be hilarious. But his true gift was his ability to cut through any and all crap and to make his skewerings ring true. The audience members applauded almost as much as they laughed as they understood how he was shedding light on the world's ills as much as he was trying to be funny.

While Black makes a lot of money doing what he does, it became apparent that comedy is his personal cure for his own disbelief, outrage and, as he put it, trauma. Black invited the audience to join him in realizing how great, yet simultaneously screwed-up, America is. To him, the battle between insanity and common sense goes beyond funny.

But Black can not only go beyond funny, he can step outside of funny. The show's closing minutes weren't even meant to be particularly hilarious. He thanked the students in the audience and urged them to take advantage of college, which he considered to be the last true chance for a young person to escape from reality. The honesty of his words was touching.

Lewis Black can no longer avoid the reality of things. But he sure can point out how comically sick it can be.

The Arts & Entertainment Editor can be reached at artsdesk@unc.edu.

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