Leftridge: TV Time: Louie, Louie, Louie, Louieeee (C.K.)

Who’s the best comedian working today?

If you said Katt Williams, you probably own at least one pair of purple shoes, consider hushpuppies a vegetable and pronounce cognac with a hard “g”.

If you said Dane Cook,  you’re an idiot.

If you said Steven Wright, you’re incorrect, but I like the cut of your jib. (Also: what’s a jib?)

If you said “_____” (fill in the blank with whoever will be at Stanford’s over the next few weeks), then you’re Craig Glazer.

The correct answer is Louis C.K., born Louis Szekely, native of Mexico, prolific joke-writer and all-around King of Comedy.

Fact: Louis C.K. was born in Washington DC, but lived in Mexico until he was 7. His first language was Spanish and his parents—an economist and a software engineer—divorced when he was 10. This fracture undoubtedly led C.K. to a life of sorrowful outlooks, which have likely (indisputably) influenced his comedy.

Evidence: In Season Two’s “Bummer/Bluberries.” Louie is heading to a “non-date” with a woman. Unexpectedly—and really, would anyone expect this?—Louie sidesteps a charging, lunatic transient who then caterwauls into traffic. He is hit by a truck and killed, and his decapitated head lands very near a startled Louie.

Evidence: Louie enjoys a fantasy scenario wherein an attractive neighbor begs him to fuck her with a “bag of dicks” while on an elevator ride. Once inside his comfortable Manhattan apartment, Louis sits in a chair and pleasures himself to said fantasy.

Both of these vignettes—which, along with the intersperse of stand-up sets make up his brilliant FX sitcom—are fleeting moments of absurd humor and delayed juvenile angst sandwiched between flashes of comedic brilliance that routinely leave the viewer LOL’ing one moment, and pondering their own mortality the next.

Louie, unlike the majora of modern American sitcoms, dwells somewhere within the disgusting psyche of everyone, making the viewer both uncomfortable and alternately supremely self-actualized.

We like this show because we want to fuck someone with a bag of dicks; we fear death and the unknown and all that is uncertain in the world. We cringe when elderly relatives use the word nigger, we question the validity of celebrity and we fall in love with other single parents during PTA meetings.

Louis C.K.—who is a devilishly inseparable from his onscreen character (hint: they’re the same person)—is the quintessential everyman, only he’s way goddamned funnier and a whole hell of a lot richer than your mechanic.

Fact: Speaking of, after Louis first bombed on a stage in Boston in 1984—first time out—he spent a few years as an auto-mechanic before giving it a shot again.

And thank God he did.

After honing his craft in front of calloused Massachusetts racists, he went on to write for Letterman, Conan and the Chris Rock Show. He received an Emmy nomination for his writing on the latter, a feat that he would later duplicate for his acting work on Louie.

But before that, there was Pootie Tang, Down to Earth and I Think I Love My Wife, all screenplays that he co-authored with Rock, and all things I bet he wishes he could erase from the resume, or at the very least, do over.

Same with Lucky Louie, the 13 episode HBO sitcom—with a live studio audience!—that began to scratch the surface, but left an insatiable hole where success wanted to live. There wasn’t anything wrong with Lucky Louie, per se. It was a multi-cam sitcom with some adult situations that told the tale of a wry, part-time auto-mechanic and his familial misfortunes. Despite the show receiving mixed reviews from critics, and viewership that rivaled some of the stations more acclaimed programming, HBO pulled the effort after one year.

From the ashes of his failed sitcom rose a glorious standup Phoenix, a beautiful, gluttonous bird who devoured accolades, delivered championed hour-long specials and eventually discovered the majesty of self-management: his 2011 special Live at the Beacon Theater cost $5 on his website. He made over $1 million off of the engagement.

Fact: Louis changes his standup act once a year. Entirely new material, once a year. Though I’m no expert, I don’t believe there’s another comedian doing this right now.

Maybe these long-term struggles (the failed projects, the road life, the years of financial insecurity), coupled with his own divorce (and orgied with the divorce of his parents as a young child) led to the insufferable pain that begat Louie, our cantankerous, yet loveable hero.

We all know that great comedians are borne from tragedy. It’s basically a given.

Richard Pryor grew up in a whorehouse and was molested.

Lenny Bruce battled heroin and morphine addiction most of his life.

Mitch Hedberg: ditto.

What makes comedy great is that it takes the audience away from their own shortcomings and places the weight of failure squarely on the shoulders of the entertainer. We may be fat, but they’re fatter; we may hate our life, but we have to suffer through the indignities of airport security one-tenth as often as they do.

Our love-life may be a train-wreck, but seriously… did you hear that shit about him trying to pick up that tranny at the bar? Oops.

And therein lies the brilliance of Louie. It takes the mediocre things in our lives—PTA meetings, visits with elderly relatives, first dates—and twists them into our own worst nightmares. Comedy is all around us—the absurdity of life is often macabre in itself—and this seemingly innocuous program helps us recognize that fact.

That’s why if you’re not watching, you deserve to be fucked with a bag of dicks.

Louie, Season Three premiers Thursday on FX at 9pm CT.

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9 Responses to Leftridge: TV Time: Louie, Louie, Louie, Louieeee (C.K.)

  1. smartman says:

    I’ll see your bag of dicks
    And raise you a ton of bullshit. Two words, er, uh names, one name….Bill Burr. Funnier than Louis CK without all the emotional train wreck baggage. Now, one of the funniest episodes of Lucky Louie was when his wife, (Pamela Adlon), insisted that he look at her asshole and study it in a meaningful way and not just consider it as another place to stick his dick. BRILLIANT!

  2. Leftridge says:

    Bill Burr
    No disrespect against Bill Burr– I think he’s funny– but I don’t think he’s on C.K.’s level.

    I also like what he’s doing as far as self-marketing/management goes. I mentioned the $5 live show in the piece, but I just found out yesterday that he’s selling tickets for his Fall tour exclusively through his website– and ONLY through his website. $45 flat, no matter where you sit. The closest he’s coming is St. Louis’ Fox Theater on October 6th. I got tickets yesterday, but for whoever else might be interested, I’d act fast. I’m betting it’ll sellout soon.

  3. PB says:

    Love Louis CK
    And hard to believe the same man who gave us Pootie Tang gives us this brilliant (that’s right, I said it…BRILLIANT!) comedy series. Can’t wait for this season. And following Wilfred, on the short list of best comedic one-two punch in tv history. Still think the religion episode regarding his Catholic upbringing from the first season was as good and thought-provoking as comedy can be. And more thanks to Mr.CK for exposing tv audiences to other funny comics like Pamela Adlon and Doug Stanhope. I’m sure Ian Lloyd (Stories)is thankful as well…Louie, Louie, Louie, Lou-eye!

  4. Orphan of the Road says:

    Hard to believe
    The HBO series didn’t register for me. But the move to FX made for a better show. At least for me.

    The dentist show was hilarious. Had a friend who awoke from oral surgery to find the dentist and his assistant doing the ol’ in-and-out.

  5. PB says:

    Agreed Orphan
    I didn’t really care for the HBO show either. Loved how they kind of spoofed the whole idea on one of the episodes of Louie.

  6. BS says:

    He doesn’t think much of us
    Fuck him.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kQSAkEBBxJ4

  7. mike says:

    I hate to admit it, but
    This is one area I actually would like to hear what Glazer has to say.

  8. Merle Tagladucci says:

    Bill Burr is hilarious. Without question a Top 5 Comic working today. But he’s no Louis CK. Louis not only kills on stage, the guy writes, directs, stars in and edits his own freaking sitcom. As if that wasn’t enough to make him a bad ass, he’s repeatedly shoved his foot up Corporate America’s ass by making his Live At The Beacon special available to fans for only $5 thru iTunes and now on his upcoming tour his tickets are all $45 flat, available only on his website and with no surcharge. He’s trying new things and succeeding both conceptually and financially. I dig Bill Burr, and agree that he’s a funny mf’er. His podcasts on YouTube are money. I also dig Doug Stanhope and Jim Norton. Artie Lange is hilarious too although not as strong on stage as the other guys. None of them hold a candle to what Louis CK has accomplished as a whole over the past five years.

  9. Leftridge says:

    @Merle
    Very well said. I agree with everything.

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