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The Daily Tar Heel

See Black Live; Skip The Album

3 Stars

Chances are, Lewis Black hates you. It's not that you've done anything wrong -- aside from swearing, alcohol and The International House of Pancakes, Black hates just about everything.

Black's first CD, The White Album, is a live album, which basically means that he decided to tape one of his shows and divide it up into 12 different tracks. Most of the tracks are simply Black ranting about things like Bill Clinton, the Heaven's Gate Cult or Arkansas, but he also takes time to pay homage to IHOP and the cheap liquor in Wisconsin.

A peculiar thing about Black's humor is that as you get closer to him, he gets more amusing. Black is hysterical when doing stand-up routines on shows such as "Late Night with Conan O'Brien," and "Back in Black" is one of the highlights of "The Daily Show," but his humor just doesn't work as well on this disc.

While some comedians, such as Adam Sandler, are much better on a disc because of the impressions and radio-show-type skits that wouldn't work in stand-up, Black's comedy loses something when you can't see him. If you can't see Lewis Black, you're not getting the whole picture. Although he doesn't use any physical humor in his shows, Black's demeanor and spastic movements are an integral part of the show.

When he says, "Now, if you ever have the opportunity to go to Los Angeles, why don't you take a pencil out, sharpen it and shove it in your eye?" it simply doesn't have the correct effect unless you can see Black angrily gesticulating with the nervous tic in his eye that seems to suggest that the world has actually driven him completely insane.

On stage or behind the desk on "The Daily Show," Black has the appearance of a heart attack waiting to happen. Some of his unrestrained rage translates onto the disc, but not nearly enough. The crowd's laughter on this disc is maddening because it alerts you to the fact that you're definitely missing something.

With lackluster peers like Dave Chappell and Carrot Top near the top of his industry, Black stands out as one of the few consistently funny stand-up comedians working today, but this disc is far from necessary, even if you're a fan.

The competition gets a bit stiffer when you enter the realm of pre-recorded humor. The White Album does not give an accurate depiction of the experience of a Lewis Black show and therefore cannot compete with masters such as Bill Cosby, Richard Pryor and George Carlin. Maybe that's why he's so angry.

The Arts & Entertainment Editor can be reached at

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