MONTREAL – Lewis Black has never been one to shy away from a good vein-pulsing, temple-throbbing holler fest, and that’s exactly the type of forthright rage that keeps fans coming back for another dose of anger, one sold-out show after another. Which is why it was so surprising – and perhaps curiously refreshing – to see Black in a more somber state at Just For Laughs this year. This is not to say that the master shouter wasn’t still in peak form, crushing nearly every asking-for-it group, from ISIS to the meatheads in Congress, but something definitely has mellowed within Black.
Taking the stage Wednesday night for a nearly 90-minute set, he steered off his usual political territory to rhapsodize on a recent colonoscopy experience (let’s just say, Lewis advises you to bring reading material when doing bathroom prep the night before), and indeed delved into more personal, conversational bits then I had yet observed from this connoisseur of righteous rage. Still, Black was not without his trademark moments – one particularly memorable interlude found him pulling off his glasses and jumping up and down (he’s spry, you guys) – and the audience eagerly lapped up the offerings, whether those offerings were singed or insightfully subdued.
Indeed, it would be difficult to walk away from such a strong performance, courtesy of a comedian in peak form, and not feel sated from top to bottom. No subject matter is safe, but the deeply satisfying belly laughs certainly are guaranteed.