Lewis Black takes a minute to collect himself.
“Where did my anger come from?” he repeats the question to himself, then laughs.
Then, without hesitation, Black lets out the rage.
“It came from watching people who shouldn’t be that stupid being profoundly stupid,” he said.
On Saturday, Black appears at the River Center Theatre as part of his “The Emperor’s New Clothes: The Naked Truth Tour.” The show starts at 8 p.m. Tickets start at $25.
In the new special, Black said he’ll tackle everything from Donald Trump to gun rights to mental health to, oh yeah, stupidity.
“I was always kind of appalled (at people’s stupidity),” he said. “Now, it’s even more beyond anything I imagined. When I was a kid, I was taught that we lived in the greatest country on Earth. But the disparity between the dream and reality astonished me. It wasn’t just political. A lot of it isn’t anger. It’s just frustration.”
Before the tour had even started, Black admitted he had only started putting the material together.
“A lot of this stuff I’ve put aside for awhile,” he said. “Now it seems like the time to bring it all out. I don’t write it down. I basically write on stage. I’ve been thinking about this stuff for awhile. Then, I’ll just get up on stage and talk about it.”
When he’s on stage, you can see Black build, then quickly explode, then do it all over again over the course of an hour. It’s hilarious, honest and took time to perfect.
“Yeah, you don’t network your way into doing this type of thing,” he said.
The 68-year-old started in theater. He was a playwright while doing stand-up. But it wasn’t until the early 1990s that he decided to get serious about comedy.
“Pursuing theater left me so broke,” he said. “I was 40 years old, and I was like, ‘You know, I guess I’m supposed to earn money.’
“(Theater) is like living in an abusive orphanage. I got a little tired of the whole thing.”
While running a club in New York City, he perfected and refined his routine. At the time, he would see comics like Gilbert Gottfried, Joy Behar and Dave Attell.
By 1998, Black had his own special on Comedy Central. He started showing up on “The Daily Show” all disheveled and pointing fingers alongside former host Jon Stewart for a segment called “Back in Black.”
In 2001, he won the American Comedy Award for Funniest Male Stand-Up Comic. He received an Emmy nomination for his 2006 HBO special “Red, White and Screwed,” and won a Grammy for Best Comedy Album for the 2009 special “Stark Raving Black.”
It’s been a bit of a whirlwind rise for Black, and it’s only climbing higher.
In 2015, he voiced Anger in the hit Disney/Pixar film “Inside Out.” It was a one-of-a-kind experience.
“I had done a lot of animation, like ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ and ‘The New Adventures of Scooby-Doo,’” he said. “(‘Inside Out’) was like going to voiceover heaven. It’s one of the most remarkable creative experiences of my life.”
When he talks about it, you hear a bit of Black’s — dare I say — sweet side.
“The second time I watched it was at the Cannes Film Festival,” he said. “You know, I mean, I’m in Cannes. I didn’t ever expect that I would be at Cannes seated with people that are a different kind of celebrity. You’ve got Mindy Kaling, Bill Hader and Amy Poehler ... I consider them all stars. I don’t consider myself that.
“The third time I watched it with an audience, and I went, ‘Wow, this is revolutionary.’ I don’t think like that. Usually, I’m wrong nine times out of 10.”
The film went on to gross more than $850 million worldwide.
In 2016, Black said fans can expect to hear him in another animated film. This time, he’ll be alongside Sam Elliott, Luke Wilson, Eddie Izzard and Oscar winner J.K. Simmons in the new comedy “Rock Dog.”
Amid this year’s tour, he’ll also star alongside Richard Dreyfuss in a television miniseries about former stockbroker Bernie Madoff. The miniseries is set to air in February.
“Don’t blink, but I’m in it,” Black said. “They had to change my character’s name for legal purposes. I play one of the many (expletive) (Madoff) was surrounded by. I think it will be well worth people’s time. It’s fascinating.”
The comedian also will return to “The Daily Show.” Black said he’ll appear up to six times.
“I never spent a lot of time over there,” he said. “One thing the show has afforded me is to have a career outside of it. Really, I just go in when they decide to do something I can go in on.”
Here’s a few choice comments from comedian Lewis Black on a wide range of topics.
On Donald Trump
“What’s really amazing is that no one with any of the parties or the media, no one says, ‘No, this is what you just said. You don’t get to say that.’ And these people who support Trump ... If he was in their office at their day jobs, no one would tolerate him if they had to work with him on a daily basis. That’s the personality that most Americans can’t abide.”
On “The Daily Show with Trevor Noah”
“(Noah) has gotta grow into it. He’s gotta make the show his, and that’s going to take time. It’s the equivalent of taking over shortstop for Derek Jeter or being the guy who replaced Lou Gehrig. What do you do? It’s a helluva position to put a kid in. I think (Noah) has the maturity to respond to it. I think it’s time. He’s got a group of new correspondents who are quite exceptional. Everything else is in place. It’s a matter of coalescing. It’ll be a new show. Once Jon (Stewart) left, it was going to be a different show.”
On Chris Christie
“For Republicans to say Chris Christie shouldn’t have hugged the President of the United States, it’s like, ‘What planet are you on?’ Seriously, it’s one thing if it was Putin and Christie. But, (Obama and Christie) are supposed to work together. That’s the way the whole thing is set up. We live in an extraordinary country, and everybody’s got this sixth sense that everyone’s going to die tomorrow because of things like this.”
On his plays
“People weren’t leaping on them. When I tried to write something that wasn’t a dark comedy, people thought I was selling out. I wasn’t going to win.”
Follow Matthew Sigur on Twitter, @MatthewSigur.