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August 22, 2017

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Lewis Black on Las Vegas

Audio Clip

  • Lewis Black's introduction to the episode of his show, "Root of All Evil."

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  • Black gives gives his verdict in the case of "Las Vegas vs. the human body: Which is the root of all evil?"

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  • The evils of Las Vegas according to Black.


What: Lewis Black, “Red, White & Screwed”

When: 9 tonight through April 16

Where: Hollywood Theatre at MGM Grand

Admission: $73.70; 891-7777

On the Web:

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Lewis Black’s comedy brand, his shtick, is the apoplectic rant, working himself into a red-faced, finger-shaking froth about the topic at hand. Black, 59, has said he doesn’t write his jokes down — he just starts talking about something that infuriates him until he has to move on before having a stroke. He has hosted the World Stupidity Awards in Montreal since 2003.

Because Black starts a week at the Hollywood Theatre at the MGM Grand tonight, and his Comedy Central show, “Root of All Evil,” ends its first season this month with an episode called “Las Vegas vs. the Human Body,” we thought it would be a good time to provoke Black into going off on Las Vegas. No-brainer, right?

It’s Tuesday morning, and Black, on the phone from New York, gamely endures our attempts to goad him — he doesn’t need much of a poke to get a good gripe going in that gravelly gargle. He even shouts a bit now and then.

Who are these people?

Black has been performing in Vegas for two decades and books at least 42 dates a year here — this place has been good to him, he says, but it still baffles him. “I’m gonna be out there this week and there’s gonna be a gazillion people there. Every time I go, there’s a gazillion people. I don’t know where these people are getting the money! If we don’t have an economy, how is this gonna occur?

“And the cheap food is gone. How do people afford it? How many good meals can you have in a day? And then the other thing — the price of golf! Could you charge more? I called up, I forget which course, and they said, ‘It’s 175 bucks.’ And I said, is lunch included? And they laughed, like ‘Oh, no.’ After that, I deserve a vitamin booster charge at the end and you’ve gotta give me food.

“My favorite is when they started charging for that Monorail. What, are you insane? It’s not like it’s taking you out to Lake Mead to look at the dam — it’s taking you to another casino. What, they’re bellying up? They can’t afford to get me there, so that I can lose the money? So they can afford to keep their transit going? It would be nice after I lost 20, 30, 40 bucks in one of the machines that it would say, ‘Thank you, have a nice day, ride the Monorail’ and give me a ticket.”

The Unreal World

“Three days in a casino is fun — it feels like you’ve been gone for a month. Seven days, you need to go to rehab and you might not have any real problems. You just lose any sense of morality. Your world is completely turned upside down. Newspapers seem to have nothing to do with what’s occurring around you. They almost seem to be fictional. It’s a massive overload of stimulus. Bam bam bam, it’s in your face all the time. It’s like, how many (bare breasts) can you look at? How much cleavage is there?

“This is amazing to me, though: My father is 90, my mom is 89, and they come for five days from Maryland. At the end, I look 110 and they look like they’re in their early 30s. I don’t know what it is, but they really seem to thrive out there.”

What not to wear

“Las Vegas is a place people go to wear clothing they can’t get away with at home. Even I like to show off my ample breasts when I’m in Las Vegas. It’s a place that celebrates its opponent, the human body. Go ahead, let your (butt) breathe in a pair of stretch pants. And don’t forget to strap on that extra-large fanny pack!”

Yes man

“In the beginning, Vegas was a world of no: No cover. No speed limit. No children. And no chance of winning. Today Las Vegas is a city of yes. Yes, you have to pay for food. Yes, there’s a traffic jam. Yes, you’ll be tripping over children. Yes, you’re still going to lose.”

Who killed Elvis?

In the “Las Vegas” episode, Black conducts an inquisition to decide which is more evil: Sin City or the sinner itself, the human body. “This is my courtroom,” he says, “where I judge the things and people that are so disturbing I need to fall asleep with a bottle of vodka and a teddy bear.” Black referees a faux-court press between fellow comics Patton Oswalt and Andrew Daly, who begins his case against Vegas with this opening statement: “My friends, Las Vegas killed Elvis Presley, enslaved the white tiger and made the Eiffel Tower its (slave).” At the end of the argument, Judge Black hands down his decision — you’ll have to tune in to the April 30 finale for the verdict.

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