Most people have an angry little voice inside their head, sometimes controlling their emotions when something goes awry.
For young Riley in the new Pixar animated film “Inside Out,” that angry voice — one of many emotions vying for control — is provided by the dulcet tones of Lewis Black, the fiery comedian and social commentator best known for his “Back in Black” segments on “The Daily Show.”
amNewYork spoke with Black about the film, opening Friday.
So … why do you think they came to you to play anger?[Laughs] Because I think it’s been what I do. I’ve kind of been working on it for years. When I went out initially, I wasn’t copying Sam Kinison or consciously copying him — I kind of developed it on my own vacuum, that voice. I think if Sam were alive, they would have gone to him. So I was kind of maybe the next in line.
Did you get to work with any of your co-stars when recording your part?
What’s interesting is myself and Bill [Hader] and Mindy [Kaling] were alone. So I never worked with anybody. Which is always good because I am always great by myself. [Laughs] What was interesting for me is that when I watched the finished product, I felt the thing that was stunning was — because instinctually you think, they put us all together, wow — but what’s amazing is what they achieved without us being together was better than what they would have achieved with us being together.
Did you get to do any riffing?
Most of it was on script because they really have a vision. Every so often, they’d go, “What would you do here? You got an idea?” Or I would say, “Can I try something?” They were open to it. … They had come out to see me work, they’ve watched my work. They kind of knew the shades of my anger.
When did you realize that you have a memorable and unique voice?
A lot [expletive] earlier than the [expletive] who do voice-over [expletive]. That’s for sure. And I mean it. People would always talk about it. I did a lot of voice-over auditions for a long time. One of the major advertising houses would bring me in to do demos for some big hoo-ha corporation and we never saw the light of day. But it wasn’t until later in life that I realized that my voice was unique in that fashion.
With such anger, what do you do to stay calm?
I use a combination of Propofol and … nah. You know what I do? Part of it is I read. That helps. I try to read something that’s not a newspaper so that I can stay calm. I spend a lot of time at dinner with friends, it’s a big help. They’re the ones who maintain my sanity. And I sadly play golf.
I take it you don’t do so well at golf.
Not well enough. I have moments. The last time I went out, I started the round with three pars in a row and I kind of wait for the breakdown and it eventually comes.
Were you a big fan of Disney and Pixar?
I had a tremendous admiration for Pixar and what they were doing before this. And Disney, as a kid, I loved. I was born and raised on this stuff. We’re talking “The Mickey Mouse Club,” for god’s sake. First generation. I had the hots for Annette Funicello. The whole thing is disturbing.
Is this your first time being made as a toy?
I beat them to the punch. I’m into my fourth generation of bobbleheads. When I do my concerts, I sell a bobblehead that when you hit it, it swears at you. The new one is really good. The money from that has always gone to the variety of charities that I’m interested in. They have four dolls of me now, they have a coffee mug, I’m on a Band-Aid. I’ve never seen anything like this in my life.
Are you going to be back on tour soon?
Because of this break, because of dealing with this 15 days of press, on and off, I’m not really going out until the end of July. I have August off. I’m doing a small role in the miniseries about Bernie Madoff for ABC. I’m playing some hedge fund guy who delivers Elie Wiesel to Bernie Madoff.
What are your thoughts about Jon Stewart leaving “The Daily Show”?
Jon leaves Aug. 6. Many people I know are upset. As a friend of Jon’s — not a close friend, but someone who knows him — I feel this is really the right decision. He learned everything he could from the show. He would be running in place otherwise. I think it was smart for him to get out of the next election cycle. I think when he made that movie [“Rosewater”], when he came back, I felt like he was going to call it a day. It’s tough. It’s a grind. He’s always yelling that I work harder than he does, and I’ve never seen anyone work as hard as him. So I think he really needs to kind of spend that time with his family. And we have more to see from him and I think that’s great. Cause I think he’s a brilliant son of a bitch.
What’s your impression of Jon’s replacement, Trevor Noah?
As far as Trevor Noah, I really don’t know him and I have no idea. My feeling has always been if they kept enough of the writers and producers in place, we’d be fine. It won’t be the same show, but it will be funny, and that’s really what counts.
What else are you working on?
I did a web series that I helped produce and write called “Mentors.” It’s a funny thing about mentoring. It’s all about bad mentoring. We’re putting that together and we’ll see where that ends up. And if you go to therantisdue.com, I do a Q&A at the end of all my performances and all of those are on there now and they basically go in rotation. I don’t have a TV show, but you can see me on the computer.