Monday, December 27, 2010

The Current-Feature Story September 2010

Lewis Black

You know the type. We’ve all had to listen to him. The jerk-off in the bar with the liberal arts degree (me) who acts like he’s smarter than everyone else (still me) because he’s heard idiotic “facts” and can’t wait to recite them to a receptive group of slightly intoxicated friends or acquaintances who have had just enough to drink to accept what I’m (he’s) saying without question. Usually it’s something like “you know, statistics show that more people would prefer death to public speaking” or “It’s a scientific fact that a single six month old panda cub contains enough nutritional elements to sustain an entire Ethiopian village for six years“.

But what ‘s interesting is that most people would consider the former statement to be somewhat plausible. The truth is, it’s generally regarded as fact, and most people would be very hesitant to argue any different, because, as scary as it sounds, two or more other people may be listening. I first heard a reference to this “fact” in one of Jerry Seinfeld’s old routines, where after referencing the study that yielded the findings, he ascertained that at any given funeral, more people would rather be in the coffin than deliver the eulogy.

So why are we so afraid of public speaking? My guess is because we’re afraid of being laughed at. It seems like a pretty sound reason. But it’s a reason that begs an additional question: Why in the world would anyone want to be a stand-up comedian? And I won’t even get into the fact that a comedian is at least partly responsible for the preceding rambling paragraphs. Or all the ensuing ones.

And so I’ll get to the point. Lewis Black is a comedian. He’s maybe not as well known as a guy like Seinfeld, who even your grandma knows, but most other people do, especially the cool kids. And one of the things I find most interesting about Lewis Black is that he seems, in his act at least, to be like one of the majority of folks who aren’t exactly comfortable with getting up in public and saying something. It’s not that he seems like he’d rather be dead, but more like he isn’t entirely happy to have people laughing at him. It seems to make him a little uncomfortable. And more than a little angry.

Yes, Lewis Black does come across as a bit angry. Maybe it’s because his job entails doing something that, for most people, is worse than death. But for those of us familiar with Black’s onstage persona, be it through his countless appearances on The Daily Show, his numerous Comedy Central stand-up specials, the TV or movie roles, his History Channel hosting gigs or his books, Black’s anger is more than just an act. It’s a reflection, not only of the ridiculous society we live in, but our own reactions to it.

And those reactions, while exaggerated, have proven to be so spot on that Black has become one of America’s most popular comedians, authenticated by his selection as Top Male Stand-Up at the 2001 American Comedy Awards, and, at least in the eyes of this writer, by his frequent skewering of Fox News parasite, Glenn Beck. Take that, Larry the Cable Guy.

Of course, there’s always fun to be had at the Osage Million Dollar Elm, so even if you can’t make out to see Lewis Black there will be plenty of other opportunities for entertainment seekers in September, whatever your tastes may be. For you bikers, both the authentic ones and the posers, every Saturday is Bike Night. And every Friday, Saturday and Sunday night brings great live music, with September’s lineup including Steve Lidell, Tuff Profit, Mike Black, The Crowe Band and the Vance Orange Project.

And I haven’t even mentioned the real reason everyone loves The Osage Million Dollar Elm, that being the chance to win big bucks, which calls to mind the lyrics to a great old Uncle Tupelo song, “I can’t forget the sound/Cause it’s here to stay/The sound of people chasing money/And money…getting away.” But really, you’re probably due to hit it big.

And even if you’re not, you’ll want to come out and see Lewis Black do things scarier than death when he performs on Friday, Sep. 17 at 7:00pm. Tickets are $40 and are on sale now and can be purchased online at or, where you can also find a full calendar of upcoming events and show times for all the aforementioned musical acts. The Osage Million Dollar Elm Casino is located at 951 W 36th Street North in Tulsa.

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