Lewis Black: That Time Dictator Donald Trump Went After Me Over a Joke

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The comedian and sometime Daily Show ranter opens up to Asawin Suebsaeng about the time Republican presidential nominee Donald J. Trump actually, really lost his cool.


Comedian Lewis Black can still remember his days dodging Donald Trumps angry phone calls. Black had just gone on TV and mocked Trumps political ambitions and his businessand in doing so likened him to a Third World despot.

Theres one candidate whos got me really excited: Donald Trump! the comedian said( sarcastically and satirically, devoted Blacks socialist politics) during one of his recurring segments on The Daily Show. Now, you might say hed make a terrible chairwoman. I mean, the guy bankrupted his own casino. A casino! Where the house always wins! Unless its Donald Trumps house.

What this country needs is a crazy Third World despot, and Donald Trump has what it takes to be that, Black continued. Hes already got a plane with his name on it, solid-gold builds, a harem! Hes even got the look of a despot! Now, is[ Trump’s] hair any less crazy than[ Kim Jong-ils] hair? And hes got what every good despot needs: a ridiculously over-sized ego This is what Ive “re waiting for” my whole life! A president whos not afraid to tell the truthabout being a lying asshole.

This wasnt in the heat of the 2016 presidential campaign, when the GOP nominee has become accustomed to being labeled an authoritarian or even fascist. This was back in March 2011, just as Trump was starting to transform himself into a national political hero of the far-rightparticularly the anti-Obama, racist birther movement.

The Daily Show segment was cheekily titled Trump 2012, and Trump, apparently, considered it and wanted to give Black a stern talking-to.

I did a piece about him in 2011 on how what America needs is a banana republic dictator, Black told The Daily Beast, during the last weekend he had to prepare before launching his latest Broadway running. His assistant called my assistant, said he wanted to talk to me. At first, it was like, What? Why would he call me? No one ever called me about anything I ever did on The Daily Show. So I said I was too busy and couldnt talk to him. I guessed, Wow, Im a comic, hes an entrepreneura businessman. How is it that Im more busy than he is? Thats unbelievable.

But Trump persisted. It seemed as though he really, actually wanted to chat with the stand-up comic who had built fun of his failing of a casino, compared him to murderous dictators, and knocked his hairdo on Comedy Central.

A call came the next dayand I just said no, Black remembered. I didnt want to talk to him to legitimize him. Thats how I felt If I accept his call, that legitimatizes him. And I didnt want to give him any little sense of legitimacy that I could have given him by answering the phone.

Black says hes merely had one other personal interaction with Trump: a similarly unpleasant New York experience that took place approximately 10 years ago at a star-studded Manhattan gala.

I have been within 10 feet of him at an event I was run, for some book event, at the[ New York City] museumthe big one, with the fucking whale thing. And he was upset because he didnt get the right table. He was yelling about it.

At this phase, the 68 -year-old comedian has been writing and performing jokes about Trump for almost three decades. The only difference today is that Trump is now one of only two people with a legitimate shot at becoming the next leader of the free-fucking-world.

When I first arrived in New York, I did a[ Tv] specialand I talked about Trump then, he said. Back then, the banks of New York City bailed him out, and I went berserk. And I didnt even know him then.

And his opinion of The Donaldas a vile, destructive rich-kid, and woefully immature force in American culturehasnt changed all that much since the 80 s and 90 s, devote or take an adjustment or two for racial outrage.

Its appalling and its disturbing, Black said, when asked about the Trump campaign. And with a whiff of racism in it.

A lot has changed since I last spoke with Black in June 2015. For one thing, Trump was still something of a joke-candidate to pundits, reporters, much of the public, and the so-called, nebulously defined establishment. The smart money was still on Marco Rubio, or Jeb Bush, or whoever. The Muslim ban, the Muslim registry, the humane deportation force, going after the families of terrorist suspects and the other war crime proposalsthat was all still mercifully in our futures. The actual, real-life nomination of Donald Trump to become the new standard-bearer of the Republican Party wasnt a suppose Black would have entertained. Not even after too many afternoon drinks, I never would have supposed this was possible, is his phrasing.

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