Lewis Black, 65, has always garnered multiple generations of fans. The bespectacled, perpetually annoyed, middle-finger-wagging comedian pays attention to pop culture and current events and dislikes Democrats and Republicans, so younger listeners typically love the guy.
Which is why GQ magazine asked Black to offer advice to millennials. Here’s a smattering of what he passed along to our nation’s youth:
- One of the most important things, especially when you’re leaving school, is to realize you’re going to be dealing with a lot of idiots. And a lot of those idiots are in charge of things, so if you’re in an interview and you really want to tell the person off, don’t do it. When people ask me, ‘Gee, why did it take you so long to have a career?’ it’s because I really thought that my criticism mattered to these people. It never crossed my mind that these people maintain their jobs. You’re going to see them again. And not only are you going to see them again, but the next time, they’re going to be in an even higher position they don’t deserve.
- It’s a big thing now: A lot of people want to be assistants to celebrities. If you’re pursuing that, you’re an idiot. You’re a moron. The shortest distance between two points is not a celebrity, or being next to a celebrity.
- The one thing that I know is key to living a somewhat satisfactory life: you really have to pursue what it is that you want to do. Whatever it is. And realize that, chances are, if you do what you want to do, there is hardly any income. In most instances, initially, there’s not. You have to deal with that. And what you’re going to find is, if you’re actually doing what it is you want to do, income really isn’t as important as people say it is. I was broke for a long, long time, and the only thing that bothered me about being broke was that I occasionally had to borrow money. The rest of the time, I was very happy doing what I was doing. And at the end of the day, as I said in my commencement speech (see below) at UCSD: If there is a God, he really doesn’t care about what’s written on your paycheck.
- Don’t pay attention to opinions; look for facts. It’s an impossible time to keep track of facts, because there are so few places you can find them. We have a lot of information; we don’t have a lot of facts. The Democrats tell you one thing, the Republicans tell you another, and yet nobody tells you what the truth is. Like the other day, I read this quote: If you paid 68 cents more for a Big Mac, then everyone at McDonalds could earn 10 or 12 dollars an hour. Now, I don’t know if that’s true! But it reads well.
Here’s Black in front of graduates of the University of San Diego’s Thurgood Marshall College last June, giving what he says is his first-ever college commencement address (Warning: ever-so-slightly rough language):
And here’s Black discussing the United States’ political two-party system from a TV clip (no worries; expletives have been deleted):