He may not have succeeded in his quest to take over from David Letterman at CBS’s “Late Show,” at least not in the fictional world of his FX comedy series, but in real lifeLouis C. K. has landed another highly coveted late-night television gig: he will be the host of “Saturday Night Live” on NBC on Nov. 3. Louis C. K., the pioneering standup comedian and writer, director and star of FX’s “Louie,” will be joined by the pop-rock trio Fun. when he makes his hosting debut on “S.N.L.” This booking comes in the middle of a national standup tour that Louis C. K. embarked upon without the help of a third-party ticketing service, and it will follow a seven-night, 14-show stand at New York City Center starting Monday. While he infrequently acts outside of projects that he has written himself, Louis C. K. has made exceptions; he has appeared as a recurring character on NBC’s “Parks and Recreation” and also has a role in an as-yet untitled Woody Allen movie. “Saturday Night Live” has a long tradition of featuring standup comedians as hosts, from its first episode in 1975, hosted by George Carlin, to more recent episodes hosted by Louis C. K.’s sometime rival Dane Cook.
Louis C.K. has sold a comedy to CBS.
The FX series star and former SNL writer is teaming with Spike Feresten (Seinfeld) on the show, which just received a pilot order from the network. The untitled project is an ensemble comedy about “young people trying to achieve their creative dreams in these tough financial times.” It has Louis C.K., Feresten, Gail Berman, Lloyd Braun, and Gene Stein as executive producers. According to one account, Louis C.K. and Feresten originally conceived the project 13 years ago.
No one owns a concept, and the idea behind the skit — many white people feel entitled — is far older than “SNL” or Louis C.K. But it’s notable that one of the most prominent comedy shows on television either didn’t know or didn’t care that it was re-using a premise that one of the most popular stand-ups in the country introduced less than two years ago.
Also read: How Louis C.K. Cut Out Networks, Used Them to Earn $1M — and Gave Half Away
In his special “Hilarious,” C.K. argued that Americans are so spoiled by technology and other gifts that they complain about tiny inconveniences like having to choose a language at the ATM.
“We have white people problems in America,” C.K. said. “That’s when your life is amazing so you just make shit up to be upset about.”
That’s also the premise of the “SNL” skit, which features white people complaining about such minor problems as not getting to sit together on a plane.
“SNL” used C.K.’s concept, but unfortunately not his jokes — the show added some stale stereotypes about black people going on break a lot.
The one good joke in the skit, which featured host Charles Barkeley: “For those of you at home, ‘awkward’ is a white people word that can be applied to every situation.”
C.K. is accustomed to having his ideas, um, borrowed. In an episode of his FX show “Louie,” last season, he included a scene in which he confronts comedian Dane Cook over claims that Cook ripped off his premises. (Cook denies it, and blasts C.K. for not defending him.)
The “SNL” skit also features a riff about white people and free range chicken that’s awfully similar to one on the last season of “Portlandia” — the very funny IFC comedy series that features Fred Armisen, who’s also in the “White People’s Problems” sketch. We know there are no completely new jokes, but wow.
Louis CK was the bright-eyed rookie when he joined the first writing staff of “Late Night with Conan O’Brien.” That was a tough feat to pull off on a show hosted by an inexperienced 30-year old on-camera rookie and led in the writing room by a 33-year old scribe, but at least Conan O’Brien and Robert Smigel had experience with “Saturday Night Live” and other TV shows. All Louis had on his resume were a few short films, a quick TV sketch job and a decade of low-pay standup gigs.
Luckily, his relative inexperience didn’t stop the show runners from taking his advice.
The first episode famously began with a skit that saw Conan, after receiving “pep talks” from people that told him he better be as good as vacating host David Letterman, try to hang himself in his dressing room before the show began. That they didn’t go any farther came thanks to Louis.
“He told me he was going to put a gun in his mouth, and I was the new guy, and I said, ‘Are you really going to do that?’ and they were like, ‘You think that’s too dark?’ and I said, ‘You can’t do that, that’s vicious, that’s really hard for people to take,’” CK recently told interview Jonah Weiner. “I talked them out of it, and it was like they were asking me for permission. ‘Really, is it too much?’ ‘Yeah, guys, that’s crazy.’ A gun in the mouth, Jesus.”
It was a prelude to some difficult times, but overall, he remembers his time on the show fondly.
It was hard to do, it hurt. It was hard to do that, but I loved the work, I loved it, and Robert let me do anything I wanted to, anything,” Louis said. “I got to shoot some really elaborate, crazy shit there, and it’s something I learned how to do: live comedy, sketch comedy with an audience, and I hunkered down, watching it happen.”
For so much more, click over to Jonah Weiner’s website.