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Lewis Black talks Grammy noms, being single and Austin

Brian T. Atkinson
Lewis Black

Lewis Black's new book, "I'm Dreaming of a Black Christmas," frames bachelorhood with typically acerbic humor. The 2011 Grammy nominee (best comedy album for "Stark Raving Black") frequently sharpens his chops on Comedy Central's "The Daily Show."

"(`The Daily Show') has given a younger audience a way to look at news," Black says. "Nobody (used to) race home to watch it at 6 o'clock. It wasn't, `I've got to go watch the news!'" The 62-year-old performs today at the Paramount Theatre.

American-Statesman: You're booked in Peoria, (Ill.), on Grammy night (Feb. 13).

Lewis Black: The people of Peoria need me (laughs). I've done (the Grammy Awards) before and it's a real big honor, but they do about 55 awards in the afternoon in a glorified high school auditorium. It's just not right.

What do you recall about winning (for 2006's `The Carnegie Hall Performance')?

When I won, the person who went in front of me was Chick Corea, who is a great jazz artist. That put it in perspective: "What am I (complaining) about? He's Chick Corea!" They can't put him on at night? Are you (kidding) me? You put the one truly genuine art form on at 2:30 in the afternoon next to who sang the best Barney (expletive) song?

What are your chances to win this year?

Look, there's Margaret Cho, who hasn't won one and is great. There's Kathy Griffin, who's hugely popular, and Robin Williams and Flight of the Conchords. Those (folks) are brilliant, too. I think my chances are minimal. What, am I going to feel bad that Robin Williams beat me? I was nominated for an Emmy for "Red, White and Screwed," and I was up against Tony Bennett. I'm going to win? Seriously. It's Tony (expletive) Bennett.

Why write a book about the holidays?

I thought it was a great way to write about being single. It's a good context to tell more of a story. In this country, it's almost a crime, like there's something wrong with you. If you're a woman, it's even worse. A guy is just a disgusting pig. It's extraordinary. In this country, you have the freedom to choose, and then you choose something and people go, "What the (heck's) the matter with you? I can't believe you chose that!"

Is it more challenging to write a book or a stand-up act?

This was the first time where I really felt like I started to learn about writing, but it's still much easier to do stand-up for me. I think a lot about it during the day, and it's more off-the-cuff.

How much do you tailor shows to local culture?

The one thing I know coming to Austin is that there's a certain amount of political correctness going on like in any college-based community. That's always in the back of my mind. It's like, "When are they going to go, `Ohh. Ooh'?"

What do you enjoy about Austin?

It's a very fascinating town to me. You know that dopey Nicolas Cage movie where he goes to drink himself to death in Las Vegas ("Leaving Las Vegas")? If I was going to become a raging alcoholic, I'd go to Austin. I'd just walk down the street with those bars and musicians and every night just get (drunk) in a different bar. I love (Sixth Street). I could be very happy there for a while.

Lewis Black

When: 8 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 3

Where: Paramount Theater, 713 Congress Ave.

Cost: $50-$70

Information: 474-1221, tickets.austintheatre.org