Eight years since recording his "Rules of Enragement" album at Acme Comedy Co., Lewis Black returned Saturday night to Minneapolis with a camera crew in tow. The brash, blathering, brainy standup vet and frequent "Daily Show" contributor filmed his two State Theatre performances for his next TV special. Having the cameras there made for a few awkward exchanges with audience members at the late show. Even well-meaning heckling was a no-no. Black admonished one talker by telling her, "We do a special thing in these cases where we take you downstairs to a room where you have to listen to Michele Bachmann for 24 hours."
Probably because it was a taping -- and thus the material had to be more timeless and universal -- Black's set was surprisingly light on politics, even including localized Bachmann-bashing. "I would talk about her, but after about a paragraph, I feel a seizure coming on," he said at one point, seemingly apologetic. He also said his view of politicians has grown so weary that he looks at them "like nothing more than a bunch of dogs barking at each other."
In lieu of politics, Lewis riffed heavily on mobile technology, including iPhones, AT&T, Droids, Facebook (and especially Facebook's Farmville) and apps in general. He pointed out the absurdity of the "best sushi" apps that "allow an inanimate object to pick out raw fish for you." From there, he went into a segment about all the insane things he saw and experienced taking LSD in his younger days -- "But never once did I turn to my rotary phone and say, 'Hey, where's the best place for sushi?' "
The TV cameras captured some pretty ingenious, topical, totally George Carlin-ian segments that -- thanks in part to the lack of politics -- might result in one of Black's most accessible specials (probably look for it in a few months on a cable network to be named, and then DVD). The production also generated a couple uncharacteristically sweet moments, as the comic's parents (ages 92-93) flew to town for the taping. That made for one other awkward exchange with a heckler, as a woman in the crowd told Black he shouldn't talk about his private parts in front of his mother. "My mom saw my [privates] when I was a baby!" he yelled back. Not sure if the cameras caught it, but I spotted Black's dad laughing heartily at that one.