Carry-On: What Lewis Black can’t travel without

Comedian Lewis Black, known for his abrasive, expletive-laden style of stand-up, appears regularly on late night talk shows and has released 12 comedy albums. His latest, “Lewis Black — Black to the Future,” was released last fall. 

Black, who does as many as 200 shows a year, is obsessed with finding direct flights. “All I care about are direct flights,” he said. “My life is devoted to direct flights.” He even arranges his travel so that he’s leaving his New York apartment to get to the Newark, New Jersey, airport at low-traffic times. “Between 11 and 12 in the afternoon, that’s the window,” he said. “Plus, usually, traffic in the airport, too, has gone down at that point.”  

When on the road, he also spends considerable time on the tour bus. “If I have two weeks back-to-back out West, or you know, in the middle of the country, then it makes sense that I don’t get off the bus,” he said. “So I’ll spend two or three days on the bus traveling to the next set of shows.” He’s written most of his three books on buses in between shows and recommends it for anyone trying to write. “Yeah, but on a tour bus,” he said. “A Greyhound, it’s not going to happen. You’re going to kill yourself after 12 hours.”  

Here’s what he takes on every trip:  

— Melatonin gummy bears  

“I got advice from a military friend who travels a lot and has wackier hours than I do, and they suggested melatonin gummy bears. I find that nothing else can give you a leg up on relaxing. But you don’t do two of them, you do four or five of them. Probably doctors will say I’m wrong, but it does work.” 

— Marijuana edibles  

“I’m not doing this to get high; I’m doing this to go to sleep. But boy, some of those edibles I have done to try to go to sleep and I’m like, oh no I’m going to sit here and review everything. Once a guy on my tour bus said, ‘Let’s take a little of this and it’ll knock us out.’ But we were up all night and I went through every relationship I’ve ever had — every one — and how I failed, and what was my fault, and it was exhausting. Eventually, I fell asleep but it was mostly because I had run out of relationships.”  

— Neti pot  

“I bring a neti pot. How sad is that? I’ve always had kind of a sinus-y problem, and flying doesn’t help that at all. You know, it dries you the hell out. Essentially what you’re doing, you’re breathing the filth, essentially. The longer you’re on a plane, the more filth you’re breathing.”  

— Necklace  

“I wear this goofy thing around my neck that somebody gave me, that supposedly sucks up negative energy. Big bad thoughts get sucked into that. Why not? I don’t know if I believe in it but it was free.”  

— Moisturizer  

“What it does is provide you with some sense of a regimen. People ask, ‘How do you travel that much?’ Well, you provide yourself with a daily routine. So, if you’re doing the routine in your house, you do it on the road. It helps you maintain a distance between you and the howling that is the void.”  

— The Week  

“I bring a bunch of The Weeks with me, usually three or four. I use them to catch up if I’ve missed anything over the past month. They’re really good at summarizing news. They also have a bunch of really funny pieces, you know, unusual stuff that’s occurred throughout the United States — congressmen or local representatives who say things that are so beyond appalling that you wonder how these people are in office. Or is there not a psychological unit in the area? Then I use some of that on stage to kind of give a sense to my audience that there is a level of lunacy that continues to go on in this country, and part of it is that we listen to people, who really, we shouldn’t be listening to because something’s wrong with them. And they need to see — we have a big mental health problem and a lot of it is represented by a lot of people in government. I keep saying, the largest outpatient clinic in the world is Congress.”

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