THEN & NOW with comedian Lewis Black


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Comedian Lewis Black, 61, was born in Silver Spring, Maryland. He has appeared on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and performs standup more than 200 nights a year. Last year, he teamed up with The City Winery in New York to produce Black Red Wine, a limited–release Cabernet. All proceeds from the wine sales benefit Black’s charity, The 52nd Street Project, a theater program for inner city kids.

Favorite beverage when I was 6: Bosco. How sad is that? Fox’s U-bet chocolate syrup came later.
Favorite beverage now: Unsweetened ice tea.

First wine experience: Mogen David. When I was 15, we crossed over the state line into D.C. where the drinking age was 18 and stopped at a liquor store. We brought it back and drank it in somebody’s basement.
Epiphany wine experience: In the early 80s, my brother was living in France and I visited him. We stopped in a restaurant in SaintÉmilion on our way to Spain, and I ordered duck. The owner said the duck had been marinating in Cognac for three days awaiting my arrival, and that changed my life.

Favorite dish when I was 6: My mother could not cook, so it had to be tuna salad sandwiches.
Favorite or most memorable dish now: When I was twelve, we went to Key West and I had red snapper for the first time in my life. Whether it was the way it was prepared or the fac that my mother couldn’t cook, it was a shock. No fish I’ve had since has come close.

Favorite musical artist when I was 13: The Beatles and Rolling Stones.
Favorite musical artist/genre now: Sadly, I still listen to most of the same shit I listened to when I was a kid.

Favorite toy when I was 6: An extraordinary gift from my grandmother, a mechanical metal riding horse that went up and down.
Favorite toy/gadget/tool now: My iTouch.

Posters/decorations on my bedroom wall when I was 13: Two posters: Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca, and Jean-Paul Belmondo in The Man from Rio.
Favorite painting or other home decoration now: My father’s paintings. He was a mechanical engineer and called his style hard-edged abstract.

What I wanted to do when I grew up: To join the foreign service.
What I’d be if I wasn’t a comedian: A college theater professor, which is what I set out to be.

Ideal vacation when I was 12: Anywhere outside of Maryland.
Ideal vacation now: Any place I can go where I don’t have to travel, can read a lot and play bad golf.

If I had an emotional meltdown when I was 6, it was most likely over: When my parents made me go to bed early and I couldn’t watch any more TV.
If I was able to rant publicly on a given subject today, it would involve: I’m a socialist, so it’s clear that neither the Democrats nor the Republicans have a clue about what they’re doing.

What would your 16-year-old self think of who you are and what you’ve become? It’s kind of silly that all this has happened to me, so I try to give back. [Black is involved with six different charities.] Being in my position is weird: I get to do fun stuff and raise lots of money. It’s most poignant when people who have cystic fibrosis or families who have lost a child talk to me. I don’t have children, the state won’t allow it, so that always gets to me.

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