Of all the recurring themes to pop up in Louie, the one that C.K. seems to gravitate towards the most is his character’s love life — or more specifically, lack there of. This is no coincidence, considering C.K. got divorced from his real life wife in 2008, and event that seemed to spark something within him creatively that has led to the most success he’s ever had, both in his stand up and with his critically-acclaimed television series.
As we saw last week, Louie has a difficult time building relationships with anyone at this stage in his life. He’s been out of the game for so long that he is utterly clueless and feels like he’s been dropped into this strange world that he had no idea existed until recently. He’s had a series of awkward flings (including in tonight’s episode with guest star and fellow comedian Maria Bamford) and last season he fell hard for Pamela, even though she told him from the outset she’d never want to be with him. Louie may be a hopeless romantic in many ways, but now he’s out to prove that, even in his mid-40s, he doesn’t have to be helpless.
Regardless of how pathetic Louie’s relationships with people his own age have become, it’s clear that the bond he has with his daughters is as strong as ever. Louie is an amazing dad, and, especially after a talk with them about why he doesn’t have a girlfriend, he wants nothing more than to give them the motherly figure they deserve (even though, by all accounts, Louie’s ex seems to be a great mother to Lily and Jane as well).
Louie then begins to imagine every woman he sees not just as a possible sexual encounter or girlfriend, but as a mother — even Maria, who he rather desperately invites over for dinner (which she finds even more offensive than the bad performance Louie just gave in bed). But it’s not until he meets a quirky, yet-to-be-named bookshop employee (played by Parker Posey) that he begins to feel smitten. Everything this woman says strikes a chord with Louie, even down to the advice she gives regarding how to handle the emotions of his prepubescent daughter through the power of literature.
He may not have the most confidence in the world, but damnit if Louie isn’t persistent. He goes back to the store several times to get more books for his kids, but mostly he just wants to get face time with her. And with every passing visit he becomes more and more enamored by her as she remembers his daughters names, listens to what he says, offers up great suggestions, and even jokes with him.
In the stand-up bits, Louie commentates how that even after all these years, asking someone out is still one of the most nerve-wracking things in the world, but that’s what makes it so much fun. Louie delivers an amazingly sweet and self-deprecating monologue explaining why she should go out with him, understanding that he knows how difficult it is to be an attractive, single woman in New York City (“…its basically disappointing, maybe because you try to be nice to men as human beings and then they respond by just torpedoing towards your vagina, and I want you to know that I’m aware that you’re young and beautiful and I’m not either of those things.”). It’s very similar to a speech he gave to Pam last season right before she turned him down (again), so it’s natural for him to be afraid of this girl’s response. But it turns out that the big production was probably unnecessary, as she happily accepted his offered (while giving him an ‘A+’ on the asking out in the process).
What happens with Louie and this woman remains to be seen in part two next week, but seeing Louie do the celebratory fist-pump after she walked away was an amazing character moment that every one of us can relate to. Even if absolutely nothing comes of this, it’s great to know that all the changes he’s made and the shit he’s gone through and existential questions he asks himself hasn’t affected Louie’s generally positive outlook on life. He’s as alive as he’s ever been and still has hope that he can find love again.
- Congratulations to Louis C.K. for his record-breaking seven individual Emmy nominations, including for Outstanding Actor in a Comedy Series (though Louie as a series was still snubbed for Outstanding Comedy Series).
- Louie’s standup bit regarding his daughter’s question if he’s ever been prejudiced: “I want to fuck Scarlet Johanson. I don’t know her and never even saw her in person. But I just know. It would be the best thing to ever happen to me and the worst thing to ever happen to her. I don’t even jerk off to her; that’s how much I like her.”
- Best line reading of the night goes to little Jane, who can never stop being adorable: “When are YOU…gonna get a girlfriend?”
- Maria on Louie trying to add features to their sex-only arrangement: “You’ve really ruined my night in two ways now… You’re bad at sex.”
Louis C.K. probably didn’t realize the power he held in the Magnolia state. In what can only be called a mild interview on NPR’s “Fresh Air with Terry Gross,” the comedian talks about how he always wears a t-shirt during sex. This admission greatly offended someone who randomly called a university that pipes in the station while callers are on hold. Mississippi Public Broadcasting pulled the show due to what they describe as “recurring inappropriate conduct.”
I really fail to see what’s offensive about the whole thing. Judge for yourself:
“But if I’m with a woman and she wants to be with me, she must like me. I definitely have sex with my T-shirt on, always. I haven’t had sex without a shirt on, God, since I was about 23,” he said.
Seriously? Apparently you’re not allowed to talk about sex in Mississippi. Even modest sex. Perhaps we’re seeing an explanation for Mississippi’s highest teen birth rate in the nation. If you don’t talk about sex, you don’t know how to do it, prevent pregnancy or even avoid it. The fact that someone complained isn’t surprising — you can find someone to comment negatively on even the most benign topics. But the fact that the Mississippi Public Broadcasting pulled “Fresh Air,” a Peabody award-winning arts and culture radio show after an easily disturbed person complained? How about the universities switch NPR out with classical music so anyone calling won’t be subjected to any language, at all?
If you really want to be offended, check out Louis C.K.’s new, completely genius show on FX, Louie.
Dollar for laugh, Louis C.K.’s show in Baltimore on Friday night was some of the best money I’ve ever spent on entertainment. But his set was also a great illustration of what a performer can do when he invests the time and energy to build the credibility that lets him take an audience to difficult places about gender, parenthood, race, and class.
Take his divorce. It could be incredibly easy for a lesser comedian to head directly for a bitter, ex-and-all-women-blaming place. And there’s no question that a deep well of loneliness runs through Louis’ jokes about being single. “There are things you get to do when you’re divorced,” he told us on Friday, “like put your feet up on the bed, and die alone.” That resignation is very funny, and very sympathetic. It’s not a Nice Guy shtick about how he deserves to be loved. Instead, it’s an acknowledgment of the truth that it can be devastatingly hard to get back out there, about the alternative priority systems we set up when the world seems too hard.
Similarly, I think a bit he did about how men think about sex is a bit of a broad brush — I don’t think that all men are more sexual than all women, or as he put it: “You’re a tourist in the land of sexual perversion. I’m a prisoner. You’re Jane Fonda on the tank. I’m John McCain.” But I trust that he knows that, and that his thinking on sex is biased in favor of respect towards women. So if he’s going overboard, he’s doing so out of a tendency to give women credit, rather than to suggest we’re frigid prudes.
In the same way, going into the act knowing C.K. is crazy about his daughters and being a father makes his gripes about the process much funnier and more creative. In a story about a kid who disrupts his daughter’s first grade class, you can kind of believe that he would seduce the kid’s gay father, move in with the guy, and then inexplicably break his heart in an elaborate scheme of revenge. And he’s totally right about the monotony of Clifford the Big Red Dog books and their insistence on dwelling on the size of said fictional canine. “Make Clifford do something,” C.K. suggested, “like he steps on a policeman and the community is devastated.” He’s the opposite of a stereotypical detached dad: he’s so attached it’s in danger of driving him a little crazy.
And in the most explicitly political bit of the night, C.K. took on the idea that destroying the environment is fine because God put it there for us to exploit, rather than find sustainable ways to support ourselves. “What the fuck did you do to my duck?” he cried in a parody of an appalled deity catching up on the work of his creation (Louis’ God voice is the same as his gay guy voice, which I think is fascinating). “It had a green head and it was so awesome and you fucking killed it!” For a guy who is divorced; insecure enough about his success to tell us of his first class flights that “this has only been for one year, and it’s only going to be for one more”; and alone out there on stage, there’s something particularly sad about the idea that we’ve lost our sense of interconnectedness, and moving about his insistence that everything has value.