Fans have come to expect a few things from a Louis C.K. stand-up set. They expect inappropriate comments about his children, his bold desire to murder morons, super-sad sex stories, and, well, just fucked-up shit from a terribly twisted mind. What they don’t expect are light-hearted, silly moments such as a spot-on Tim Gunn impersonation, a declaration of love for Project Runway (complete with shout-outs to Mondo and Gretchen), and some trivial little jokes that even he described as “silly untethered” bits.
But that’s exactly what the crowd at Largo in Los Angeles was treated to on Friday night during the comedian’s second of three sold-out shows. It was a fresh mix of the I-hate-myself-and-want-to-kill-you-while-making-you-all-cringe Louis that made him famous with the a-little-more-okay-with-himself-and-the-world Louis. We kind of like both Louies, to tell you the truth, and from a stand-up perspective the new mix worked.
Fortunately for his die-hard fans, though, his new contentment — and, dare we say, borderline happiness (although in truth he still seems a few nuggets shy of a full-blown Happy Meal) — doesn’t mean the death of his appeal. The laughs were aplenty through his approximatly 90-minute 10 p.m. set.
A good majority of his set was spent on the familiar territory of aging, balding, and his overall fatness (his word, not ours; he’s actually really not that fat), which has played well in past stand-up sets and on the small screen on his Emmy-nominated FX show, Louie. The comedian used the set to work out new material, which, he quipped, “means low-grade material.”
“I didn’t know that at 44 that my asshole would become like the waistband on old pajama bottoms. It’s really kind of loose and ineffectual,” said the comic/actor, who was clad in faded gray jeans and a black t-shirt (he joked that he spent $12 a year on clothes, and we believe him).
But the new spin on his aging rants is that he’s finally at peace with getting older. “Aging is part of life, man. Right?” he offered, while defying his self-professed old age with relevant bits about texting, iPhone’s Siri, and the creepiness of Apple’s omnipresent iCloud.
He also kept it young and hip with a declaration of love for Project Runway and a laugh-out-loud Tim Gunn impersonation (hopefully it’ll end up on YouTube shortly — or on a future episode of Louie — because it’s must-see comedy). “I love Tim Gunn. [In Tim’s famous voice] I’m worried about you. [Huge laughs] All right, you’re the designer, which means you’re not gonna f—ing listen, so go ahead.”
Going where most people, let alone single dads, don’t dare to go, Louis dove into the idea that murder should be legal and parents should be able to kill their children. He’s a father of two daughters, and yes, we’re not taking him seriously, but it bears repeating.
As for the aforementioned “silly untethered bits,” those came in the form of quickies such as an impersonation of a goat ghost (just combine the bleat of a goat with the boooo of a ghost and you got the joke), why the tuna never told the shark his fin was showing, and a dog who was too stupid to wipe the egg salad off his face after stealing his sandwich off the counter.
Overall, there was nothing “low-grade” about this material at all, just a once-bitterly-angry comedian proving that you don’t have to be miserable to still be funny.
Louis C. K. is a genius. Does that opener spoil the rest of the article? From fantastic stand-up performances to a now-successful television career, we’re all lucky to have a show like Louie to enjoy week to week.
Comparing the show to the works of Woody Allen is perhaps an understatement, as Louie is like a perfect storm of comedy. The show blends brilliantly-written stand-up routines with vignettes about familial life, relationship/romantic entanglements and social awkwardness in the same way that Curb Your Enthusiasm did, only with a sharper tongue and perhaps a more hardened New York edge. Louie is like the perfect companion piece to something like Curb Your Enthusiasm or Seinfeld, as they all deal with similar issues in a comedic way, but all take their own wildly different styles and apply it to the situation.
This season sees a more emotional C. K. finally expressing his feelings for Pamela, his friend he met at a school function for one of his daughters. Of course, this goes awry, with C. K. using a beautiful spat of dialogue in the hopes of winning her over, but, as would happen in reality, failing miserably. As a guy who has gone through this kind of situation, where the girl you spend time with is really the girl you’re crazy about, having spilled my guts the same way C. K. does, and getting basically the same response in return, I couldn’t help but cringe, knowing full-well that this isn’t the kind of show where the hero walks off into the sunset with the beautiful single mom.
Other great moments from season 2 include C. K. taking his daughters trick ‘r’ treating only to be harassed by two terrifying scumbags on the streets of New York, a late-night rendezvous with a couple of swingers that goes wrong (with Chris Rock called upon to save the day), and C. K. fantasizing about the seventeen million dollar home he wants to live in with his daughters. Many of the episodes are sweet and punctuated with genuine heart, such as a great sequence where C. K. prepares dinner for his daughters, then struggles to explain the concept of “fair” to his youngest, who complains about her sister’s pre-dinner snack.
Another surprising moment is a face to face confrontation between Dane Cook and C. K. After having seen Joan Rivers insult Cook in a previous episode, I wasn’t sure what to expect when C. K. made the decision to approach the supposed joke-stealing comic in the hopes of obtaining Lady Gaga tickets for his daughter’s birthday. I think part of me was expecting Ike Barinholtz doing his spot-on impression of Cook, but when the genuine article appeared, I was shocked. The scene is perfect, with Cook playing the scorned comic, accused of swiping material from C. K. Knowing the background of their interaction, the scene was more powerful, but plays just as well for those who don’t know the situation.
Perhaps the best episode in the entire series so far, “Duckling” is all heart, with C. K. venturing to Afghanistan with the USO in an effort to entertain the troops. While there have been movies about the USO Tour and other comedians or artists have talked about going abroad, Louieputs a perhaps more realistic lens on the concept. When his daughter places a duckling in his bag, he struggles to hide it from commanding officers, feeding it and giving it water in private moments. The obvious metaphor of fragility in a hostile war zone is not lost on C. K. or the audience, for when a particularly dramatic moment occurs, the duckling serves as a sweet olive branch of sorts between cultures.
I’m in the camp that Louie is the finest show on television. With every episode written and directed by C. K. himself (along with Pamela Adlon on a couple episodes), it’s like getting a true auteur’s work every week, without fail. Like a master class in comedy filmmaking. One wonders how long it’ll be before C. K. is given the reigns on a relatively big-budget comedic film.
Blu-ray Bonus Features
Commentary track for select episodes, deleted scenes, and a Fox Movie Channel Presents Premiere piece.
“Louie: The Complete Second Season” is on sale June 19, 2012 and is not rated. Comedy. Directed by Louis Ck. Written by Louis C.K.. Starring Chris Rock, Joan Rivers, Louis CK, Pamela Adlon.
Thanks to comedian Louis C.K., the business of comedy is undergoing rapid changes. Who controls the distribution of content in the niche is being turned on its head.
We wrote about Mr. C.K. just the other day here on TNW, noting the success of his method to help end ticket scalping by implementing his own sales system – and rules. If you bought a ticket to one of his shows, and try to sell it for a higher price, the ticket is canceled. End of story. Scalping is down over 90% due to the system.
However, the ticketing ploy isn’t Louis’s first use of technology to change the comedy landscape; he previously made headlines by self-releasing a comedy special, selling it for a flat $5, without DRM. It was a massive success, selling more than 200,000 units.
Other comedians, such as Aziz Ansari and Jim Gaffigan followed in those footsteps. Now, a new website, Lolflix, wants to allow even more folks to sell their specials for $5, sans DRM. LaughSpin, who discovered the site, explains its goals:
LOLFlix allows users to stream or download stand-up specials that were originally produced for Showtime, and now Scott Montoya, the longtime comedy producer behind it all, is beginning to work alongside comedians to produce original specials as well.
So, extant content is being sold, and new, fresh content is on the way. Sounds great, right? Well, there are a few issues that may stick. To begin, the site take a fat cut, up to 50%, of revenues. This is quite different than what Louis C.K. did, by producing the entire affair himself; he wasn’t in business with anyone else for a slice of the pie approaching half. Also, some are protesting that the website forces users to create accounts, something that C.K. did not.
From Reddit user Iggyhopper:
Isn’t this just another middleman in a new form? Sign up with a lolflix account? How ’bout no. Louis CK required one thing to enter: your email.
Still, those bumps aside, the website, if it can attract a sufficiently large userbase, could help smaller comedians make a few bucks, and perhaps produce their own hour long set. And that would be nothing but a good thing.
The Webby Awards, honoring the best of the Web, announced the 2012 award winners Tuesday, with Louis C.K. grabbing person of the year.
The reason is the comedian’s self-distributed comedy special, “Louis C.K.: Live at the Beacon Theater,” which he released on his own website for $5 apiece. The comic is also the star of the critically acclaimed FX series “Louie.”
So my agent tells me Louis C.K. wants me to guest star on his TV show. I said, “You’re kidding me…Louis C.K. has a show?” The truth is I’d been really underwhelmed by most of the new comics. I saw Dane Cook on TV once and thought, ‘Oh, this poor schlub is bombing in a club somewhere.’ Then the camera pulled back and the guy’s in a stadium! So I bought Louis’s DVD (retail) and he actually made me laugh out loud, which I just never do unless Michele Bachmann is speaking. Louis says stuff onstage that nobody else is saying—that’s what makes a star. He’s fearless and he hates a lot of things that deserve to be hated.
Doing Louis’s show was a blast. When I asked for script changes, we rewrote it together. And Louis knows cameras, lenses, directing—he does it all. I walked out of there thinking, ‘Where’s the gift shop? I want a Louis C.K. T-shirt.’
Judging from the way he dresses, I’m not sure Louis C.K. ever reads GQ, but just in case he picks this up by mistake during one of his late night newsstand porno runs, here’s my advice:
Here’s the good news, kid: You’re here to stay. The bad news? Your chosen life’s work, comedy, is a steaming shithole of cruelty and degeneracy owned and operated by deranged, unattractive thieves. Ignore them. Push forward. Play by your rules and KEEP GOING. Wear blinders if necessary, but KEEP GOING. Don’t let other people tell you what’s funny. Don’t read your reviews— the bad ones hurt too much and the good ones make you weak. It’s all about ego and the moment you start to think you’re wonderful, it’s over—you’ve peaked.
Finally, and I can’t stress this enough, always be good to older Jewish comediennes who were nice to you when you were starting out and had your head so far up your own ass that you had to clean out your ears just to see.
You’re welcome. Now, who do I see about my check?