Posted: 10/14/2008


Lewis Black’s Root of All Evil Uncensored


by Del Harvey

The most politically intelligent man in America presides over some of our most pressing issues in what may be the funniest program on television. Why aren’t you watching?

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Comedian Lewis Black presides over a court where he brings random people, organizations, and consumables to trial. One of his lofty comedy lawyers argues that Oprah is the root of all evil, while another says it’s the Catholic church. There’s beer vs. marijuana, Donald Trump vs. Viagra, and Kim Jong-Il vs. Tila Tequila, to name just a few. And in the end “Judge” Black chooses which is more evil and sentences it to a make-believe punishment.

I have a confession, your honor: I am a huge fan of Mr. Black’s. He looks at the world with an unbiased eye. No… that’s not exactly true. His bias is towards the comical. But in his comedy there is truth. The unfettered truth of an individual who does not care one bit what anyone thinks of him or his comments. It was two HBO specials ago that he said, and I quote, loosely and poorly: “I don’t understand why the America people don’t rise up as one and smite that bastard (President Bush) where he stands.” Okay, so maybe I embellish, too. But you catch my drift.

What we have here is a compilation of the show’s first season, presented in all its uncensored glory. First, the structure of the show, to help you understand… the structure of the show.

Here is the show’s basic weekly format:
-Lewis Black does a short introduction for that week’s topics
-Each side presents their opening statements
-The cases for and against are presented by the [ahem] “lawyers”
-“Judge” Lewis Black briefly interrogates and prods and pokes each side a bit further
-The “Ripple of Evil” segment (you have to see it)
-Closing statements are presented
-“Judge” Lewis Black pronounces his final verdict and sentencing
-The post show interview, always shown during theclosing credits

Episode One: “Oprah Winfrey vs. The Catholic Church”
“Judge” Black presents his comparison between the PR machine that is Oprah and the Catholic church. Arguing for the Catholic church is Greg Giraldo, and arguing for Oprah as the root of all evil is Paul F. Tompkins.

Episode Two: “Donald Trump vs. Viagra”
Our pro-Viagra counsel as the root of all evil is Greg Giraldo. Prosecuting against Donald Trump is Andy Kindler.

Episode Three: “Weed vs. Beer”
Arguing for beer as the root of all evil is Andy Daly and pro weed is Paul F. Tompkins, who briefly interviews singer-songwriter Aimee Mann.

Episode Four: “Youtube vs. Porn”
Greg Giraldo is soundly pro-porn as the root of all evil, while computer nerd Patton Oswalt argues for Youtube. This episode features a brief cameo by expert witness Ron Jeremy.

Episode Five: “Paris Hilton vs. Dick Cheney”
Greg Giraldo supports Paris HIlton as the root of all evil and Patton Oswalt convincingly presents for Dick Cheney. (This just might be the season’s funniest episode.)

Episode Six: “American Idol vs. High School”
Suggesting that high school is the root of all evil is Patton Oswalt. Arguing pro American Idol is Andy Kindler. Sadly, it’s far to easy to see both sides in this argument.

Episode Seven: “Kim Jong-il vs. Tila Tequila”
Arguing for Tequila as the root of all evil is Greg Giraldo, and arguing for party-master Kim Jong-il as the root of all evil is Kathleen Madigan.

Episode Eight: “Las Vegas vs. the Human Body”
Speaking out for the human body as the root of all evil is Patton Oswalt, and supporting Las Vegas in this debate is Andrew Daly.

Post Show Interviews
These are extended versions of the post show interviews of each episode with an unnamed woman sans scrolling closing credits over her. Oddly, some post show interviews are on disc one, and some are on disc two. Most important tidbit you’ll learn from these: Greg Giraldo really used to be a lawyer. Kewl.

Your Day in Court: This is a short with Lewis Black advising what to do if you are going to appear in court and how to choose a lawyer, shot in grainy, handheld camera style meant to appear like an old public service announcement.

PolitiBits: There is an old saying that if you say the same thing often enough, it becomes the truth. This is the core of Black’s advice to politicians.

Comedy Central Quickies:
Reno 911!: Prostitution Sting (gone awry)
South Park: It’s Just Gone (the internet vanishes)
The Daily Show with Jon Stewart: Baracknophobia (segment on “the irrational fear of hope”)
The Colbert Report: Cookie Monster (fruit is beating out cookie as a snack for children; Colbert blames Cookie Monster’s switch to eating fruit now instead of cookies)

That’s the entire 2-Disc collection, available now from Amazon or MTV or wherever you can get your hands on it. And do watch the show, which airs on Comedy Central. Check local listings for showtimes in your area.

Del Harvey is the founder of Film Monthly, a film teacher, a writer and a film critic in Chicago.

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