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The men named Black (02/07/2007)
From: Aaron Ruppert

Being the music and entertainment fan that I am, I have attended countless concerts and comedy shows over the past 15 years. While the number of bands/comedians I have seen will remain unknown without digging for old ticket stubs under piles of old tax returns, notes from former high school girlfriends (don't tell my wife), baseball cards from '89, and old Nintendo 64 cartridges, there are a few specific experiences among those faded stubs that stand out. Two of these involved the famous...both with the last name "Black".

I was in the Twin Cities about 5 years ago attending a comedy show. I had driven up from Winona with my friend Steve. We met our friend, Tom from Duluth. Another friend of ours, Britt, was not able to attend as he had decided to skip out to see President Bush speak. After the set, our sides still sore from gut-busting laughter, we were enjoying a few drinks in the bar at the club when we happened to notice two people sitting down at a restaurant table through a beveled glass partition. The comedian we had just watched was partaking in dinner. We immediately approached the security guard and asked if it would be alright if we went in to say hello. The wonderfully friendly guard very graciously said yes at which point I ran to the retail stand nearby and purchased one of the comedian's CDs knowing that it would be a great opportunity to score an autograph. We approached the comedian, Lewis Black, famous for his weekly spot on The Daily Show with John Stewart, movie appearances and HBO and Comedy Central specials, with apprehensive anticipation. We introduced ourselves and apologized for interrupting his dinner. Upon request of an autograph he immediately grabbed a marker, asked our names, grabbed our recently purchased CDs and began writing. Knowing Mr. Black's distaste for George W. Bush, as he touches on it often in his material, I thought this a prime opportunity to joke around with him. I said to him with a sly grin, "Yeah, our friend was supposed to come with us to see you but decided against it in order to go see Dubya. We told him he'd hear more of the truth at your show." Mr. Black doubled over with laughter. We then thanked him for his time and left him to his meal; all of us smiling with a wonderful feeling of fulfillment having met the edgy comic.

My second experience took place four years ago in East Troy Wisconsin at one of the best venues for concerts in the area, Alpine Valley. Tom and Britt both drove to Winona and piled into my car along with Steve. We were soon on our way to see Radiohead. Trips to Alpine Valley always included the delectable scents created as we grilled burgers in the parking lot, socializing with the colorful cast of characters parading about, and of course enjoying the tasty sounds of the band we happened to be there to see. There are two seating sections. One is a covered pavilion close to the stage and the other area is known as "lawn" although it could be described more appropriately as a virtual open precipice covered with grass. At this particular show Tom was sitting directly to my right in our pavilion seats while Britt and Steve were on the "lawn". About half way through the second set the crowd was grooving to "Paranoid Android" when I heard someone on the other side of Tom belting out some of the lyrics with a voice so potent he was heard above the hauntingly overpowering lead vocals of Thom Yorke. After a little while I noticed there was a man seated directly in front of the emphatic singer that was repeatedly looking back at our man but not looking directly at him, as if he was making sure the area was secure. My curiosity got the better of me and I couldn't help but stare directly at the mystery guest. It was none other than comedian, Tenacious D lead singer, big screen actor, Jack Black. While seeing Radiohead is indescribable, meeting Jack Black was definitely the apex of the expedition. 


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