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Lewis Black will step away from touring after his Paramount show — but not from righteous anger

If you’re thinking about going to Lewis Black’s show at the Paramount Theater, make sure you get around to buying tickets — or else you’ll really have something to fume about.

The comedian, author, actor, playwright and accomplished master of the artful angry rant may not sound like the retiring type. But Black, who’s bringing his 2023 "Off the Rails Tour" to town on Saturday evening, says he is hanging up his travel mic next year.

“I’m retiring from touring,” Black said Tuesday. “By the end of next December, I’m not going to be doing it anymore.”

He cited a variety of factors that contributed to his decision. For one thing, after pandemic isolation eased and performers of all kinds could hit the road again, too many tour buses have been clogging roads, and hotel bills have been ballooning.

“Don’t ask anybody what their five-year plan is,” Black said. “Shut up.”

For another, he’d like to spend the time on some other interests.

“I want to write either another play or another book,” said Black, who has penned three books — “Nothing’s Sacred,” “Me of Little Faith” and “I’m Dreaming of a Black Christmas” — and more than 40 plays.

He also is creating his own travel show, which uses a bit of stand-up comedy and a lot of local color to highlight the history of locations Black believes deserve more attention.

“The first one we did is on Huntsville, Alabama,” he said. “It’s pretty remarkable.”

Cities like Charlottesville don’t need as much promotion, he said. Black is fond of Charlottesville, even though he discovered the last time he performed here that he’d ended up ninth on a list of 10 things to do in town. “I made a 10-minute riff about it,” he said.

Black has no plans to silence his podcast. “I’ll still be doing ‘Rant Cast,’” Black said.

Saturday night will be all about the fuming, seething humor he is known for, so get ready to buckle up and enjoy.

“Mainly, it’s about — how do I put this? — it’s the fact that we keep getting stupider,” Black said. “We keep trying to top ourselves. How do we get out of the pandemic and things seem to be worse? What is the matter with people?”

He is not shy about criticizing politicians and others in power who keep dropping the ball, but he’s careful to look past symptoms to see what’s really going wrong out there.

“The show is not and never has been about politics. It’s all about how it’s going socially,” he said. “We live in an era where the world we’re living in is the punchline. You’re asking me to top that? I can’t.”

“Look, in the end, what I’m just trying to do is give them the laughs to step back from the reality they’re awash in.”

And yet, in the midst of political turmoil and social struggles, Black sees plenty of reasons for hope.

“My generation is going to die off. That’s going to help,” Black said. “There’s a lot of underbrush out there, and it seems to be on fire for no apparent reason.”

Hope isn’t just a game of attrition, though. Black is heartened to see that American empathy is alive and well.

“You can hear it expressed in the room” at his shows, he said. “The level of empathy in this country is huge. Part of what this is about is we went through this pandemic, in which we were separated.”

Building back unity is essential, but it’s far from easy. Extreme views aren’t helping.

“To say that you’ve got to root out the commies and the radicals, there are five of them in the country. Just stop it. OK?” Black said. “We’re living in two separate realities. Possibly four separate realities. They’re making s—- up. You don’t get to just make s—- up.”

Fans of the 2015 Pixar animated film “Inside Out,” which personified a young girl’s emotions, were delighted to hear Black providing the voice of the character Anger. Black said he thoroughly enjoyed reprising the role for a sequel that’ll be released June 14.

“They’re great to work with,” Black said “They weren’t going to do a sequel, but they had a good idea. They’re not doing it just to do it.”

Black said to keep an eye out for some interesting new characters this time.

“There are new emotions,” he said. “She hits puberty.”

The show begins at 8 p.m. Saturday. Tickets are $74.75, $59.75 and $49.75. Get them at or call (434) 979-1333.


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