THEN & NOW with comedian Lewis Black
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.