BILOXI -- Lewis Black had barely spoken one word during a recent telephone interview with the Sun Herald when a phone could be heard ringing in the background. After a brief pause, Black returned to the interview.
"Sorry, that was my agent," he said. "Big, big things are happening for me."
Then came the perfectly timed comedic pause followed by, "I'm kidding. I have nothing going on."
For someone who doesn't have a lot going on, Black seemingly has a lot going on.
The New York-based comic is about to leave the Big Apple for an early January tour that will find him deep in the Deep South, including a Jan. 8 show at the Beau Rivage Resort & Casino in Biloxi.
He said he enjoys getting away from his New York comfort zone.
"I enjoy touring the South," he said. "I like playing shows all over the country. I played the casino in Biloxi 20 years ago when they had a comedy club."
Black is known for his ability to rant on a variety of topics.
From politics to social issues to religion, nothing is off limits for the comic. He said he likes to see how his audiences react to his material.
"I find it interesting in the South, especially, to see what people are thinking and what they can and can't handle that's coming out of my mouth," he said.
"You can tell pretty quickly how the audience reacts to certain things."
A graduate of the University of North Carolina, Black still has a home in Chapel Hill.
"I'm shocked at how well the (UNC) football team did this year," Black said. "It's a distraction from our academic problems. We couldn't do it by cheating. Maybe that's the lesson learned."
In 1996, Black became an integral part of Comedy Central's "The Daily Show."
Black contributed a weekly segment, "Back In Black," where he would rant about whatever was on his mind.
The show, where Trevor Noah has succeeded Jon Stewart as host, is a cable news institution.
"I'm not surprised at what 'The Daily Show' has become," he said. "But I find it more unbelievable what people consider cable news these days. It started when we invaded Iraq. When you televise a war, there's no turning back."
Politics has long been a source of fodder for Black. And with a presidential election in November, he said he has no trouble mining new material.
"This year, these candidates are doing the writing for me," Black said. "It's outrageous. Seriously, all I have to do is repeat it. We have reached a level of crazy that's appalling."
Black, who has a degree from Yale Drama School, can also be seen in the upcoming ABC movie "Madoff."
"I'm really excited about this," he said. "I had a scene with Blythe Danner and Richard Dreyfuss, who plays Bernie Madoff, but that had to be cut. But I'm in it for three episodes. But make sure you keep your eyes open."