Posted 18 August 2010 - 09:25 PM
It's sort of like a very dark spin on Seinfeld. The show alternates between stand-up segments and little vignettes from Louie's life showing how the latter influences the former.
Taking inspiration from C.K.'s own life, the show chronicles a recently divorced father/comedian trying to make sense of getting older and returning to the single life.
It's pretty hilarious...but still dark and uncomfortable.
Posted 19 August 2010 - 03:46 PM
It is intensely vulgar, as Louis C.K.'s stand-up comedy depends on one part self-humiliation and two parts mind-numbing obscenity. But the actual show itself is pretty gripping. I am not sure why, but I find these vignettes of Louis just walking around and relating to the world in his hamstrung way very comforting. The most recent episode involved him pleading with a high school kid not to beat him up (his date then deciding the whole situation was a big turn-off). Louis follows the kid home, and ends up talking to his dad on the front step about life and children.
I seldom see anything so honest and vulnerable on TV, but I recommend fast-forwarding through the stand-up interludes.
Posted 19 August 2010 - 11:21 PM
I agree with you. I much prefer the "story" parts over the stand-up parts. My only experience with Louis C.K.'s stand-up has been what I see in this show and it's occasionally funny, but I find myself doing other things until the stories come on.
I, too, really appreciate how honest and vulnerable some of those segments are. One of the early moments of the show that really attracted me was the scene in which Louie and several of fellow comedians are playing poker and they begin talking about the use of the word "fag" in their routines. One of the comedians present happens to be a homosexual and they ask him how it makes him feel when they say that word and whether they should say use in their jokes. The scene begins light and funny but shifts to a somewhat serious tone by its end. I was impressed at how well the scene transitioned into a meaningful discussion without losing sight of the humor or turning into a preachy monologue.
The show makes shifts like that all the time, like in the scene you mentioned, M.Leary. The teen threatens Louie and it's awkward, then his date admits that it turned her off and it becomes funny, then he follows the kid home and the show had me expecting something awkward/funny at the end, but instead it ends with two men talking about the difficulties of fatherhood. Where else can you find a story line like that?
Ultimately, it seems the show is about finding comedy in life, even (or especially) in its difficult moments. We all get into those terrible situations where we think, "I'll look back on this someday and laugh about it." Those are the moments that often make up Louie. Then there are episodes like the one in which Ricky Gervais plays Louie's wacky doctor and those are just plain funny.
But this is definitely not a show I'd recommend to everyone due to its content and its really dark sense of humor. Many of my friends would hate it, I think.
Edited by Gavin Breeden, 19 August 2010 - 11:26 PM.
Posted 20 August 2010 - 09:46 AM
I think I like this show also as an alternative to the nihilism of Seinfeld, and even the only loosely ironic self-absorption of Curb Your Enthusiasm. Both of these shows involve comedians doing comic things, but in Louie, the comedian aspect is simply an incidental part of his biography. Just as we see characters in The Office (UK) going to work and doing funny/poignant things, we see Louie going to work and then doing poignant things. He could just as easily be a UPS driver that says funny stuff to co-workers on the dispatch radio.
In essence, it turns out that Seinfeld is a sad show, because it can quickly become that empty, shallow thing people climb into when they need to escape from all the stuff Louie is dealing with: divorce, loneliness, kids, etc... In one of the earlier episodes, Louie castigates a heckler after the show because she robbed his audience of that one time during their week that they could have had a laugh, a brief vacation from their day to day grind. I think the heart of his argument is not that real comedy is a quick and cheap fix, but that authentic and therapeutic comedy is extremely hard to come by - and she had stolen this opportunity from Louie's listeners that night. Louie is a stand-in for audiences that have seen the gloss of TV for what it is, and are now immune to it. What we get instead are realist vignettes that show us why Louie the single 42 year old male feels the way he does.
And this is why the show is so vulnerable, Louie seems to want us to see what he is really like inside, and it is pathetic. But, this also makes it funny because: Louie is us.
A bit further on that: I think Louie may appeal to men more than women because he is very specifically tapped into that wandery, shell-shocked feeling that attends middle aged men trying to figure out why they are where they are.
In what other "comic" TV show do you see a 25 minute episode broken up by 4 minutes worth of the overweight lead following a teenager through the subway, on the Staten Island Ferry, all the way to his suburban home? (And this is after two blocks of 3 minute medium camera shot conversation between Louie and his date.) There was something actually Dardennesque about that scene. I was captivated, because I was seeing actual cinema realism on TV. In the service of what? I couldn't tell. And then, it turns out, this sequence leads to a startlingly honest discussion between two fathers. When I now think of how effective television can be, I will now think of this episode.
And then from a theological perspective:
This show is basically a data-mine for contemporary pastoral theology. Louie articulates almost every feeling that men around his age feel on a daily basis. It basically hands us the ethos of a healthy percentage of church attenders on a platter. I think it is a show that needs to be watched, dissected, and ultimately used as a tool to engage a specific segment of our society.
Sorry for the tangled heap of thoughts here, but apparently, I had more to say about this show than I thought I did. If anyone hasn't watched this show, I recommend at least watching the last episode.
Edited by M. Leary, 21 August 2010 - 08:08 AM.
Posted 25 August 2010 - 01:45 PM
Jeff Garlin argued that Brian Regan is the funniest comedian in America right now, because he gets big laughs while managing to work clean, which isn't easy. I'll happily grant him that. Brian Regan is a brilliant comic ... But what Louis CK does is twice as difficult. It may be hard to make a clean joke about Pop Tarts funny. But in the end, it's still a joke about Pop Tarts. You haven't risked anything by telling that joke. What Louis CK is doing right now is similar to what made Richard Pryor so special back in the 1970's, or what Howard Stern did when he began on the radio. Pryor was upfront about all of his personal shortcomings: his drug use, his troubles with women, his suicide attempt. He hid nothing. He kept nothing for himself. When you watched him, there was both humor and a constant sense of unease as to his mental well-being.
Something like that goes beyond mere comedy. That sort of emotional nakedness elevates the performance into something else entirely. It's performance art. Louis CK will tell you that's a faggot term, but it's true. At its very best, art is someone giving you a piece of their soul. And that's what Louis CK does when he performs. There's no fear. And I'm not talking about being willing to take your shirt off in front the audience or something. I mean that he has no fear ... He's willing to ignore all the potential emotional consequences of what he says just for the sake of laughter. It's an intensely personal, intimate form of comedy. You feel like you're sitting in on a therapy session. And that, of course is exactly what great comedy is: a form of therapy. That's why Louis CK is the best around.
Edited by Persiflage, 25 August 2010 - 01:45 PM.
Posted 27 August 2010 - 09:33 AM
Posted 30 August 2010 - 07:36 PM
I'll continue to watch because it's still very different from the other comedies I watch.
Posted 03 September 2010 - 09:11 AM
It would be hard to stop watching the show if for no other reason than the show's so formally interesting in its plot-minimalism, but it's tough to watch.
Edited by Russ, 03 September 2010 - 09:14 AM.
Posted 03 September 2010 - 09:17 AM
Posted 03 September 2010 - 10:21 AM
And the pedophile stand-up section from a few episodes back has definitely been the most cringe-worthy moment of the show, for my money.
Posted 08 September 2010 - 01:02 PM
I enjoyed the "finality" (for lack of a better word) of the final shot, a pan from the diner window across a darkened street and ending on the eastern sky brightening at dawn. Perhaps it represents Louie's acceptance of this new chapter in life and that bright days lie ahead? Could this mean that season 2 (which may start as early as April 2011) will show a happy Louie embracing his new life with confidence and determination? I highly doubt it. But I'll definitely tune in to find out.
Posted 08 September 2010 - 03:51 PM
I'm over 10 years younger than him, but I still found the scene in the night club laugh-out-loud hilarious, uncomfortable, and very sad that I actually identified with it. The getting physically dragged around by the cool crowd, the mystical ability for everyone to talk and apparently hold normal conversations while I can't hear a single thing, being surrounded by a hundred different attractive girls along with the seeming impossibility of actually talking to a single one of them in that atmosphere - yep, I can identify with all of it - and it's both simultaneously very very sad and very very funny. By far one of the funniest scenes of the first season.
I thought the Louie finale ... did a great job of summing up the tone of the entire first season. A woman rejects Louie. He experiences great awkwardness returning to the social scene as a 42-year old single man ...
Posted 09 September 2010 - 01:28 PM
Posted 04 August 2011 - 08:44 AM
Posted 04 August 2011 - 09:02 AM
And there really is no through-line at all. You could take the episodes and mix them up like a deck of cards with no negative effect. The through line is just... aging.
Posted 09 August 2011 - 03:51 PM
Posted 11 August 2011 - 08:54 PM
Anyway, Klosterman on season 2 of Louie:
This fall marks the 20th anniversary of Nirvana’s Nevermind, so lots of folks are talking and writing about how life-changing the release of that record was. But in 1991, Nevermind was not unilaterally appreciated — people argued about its merits constantly, and a lot of people hated it. We generally agree it’s awesome now, but that agreement is retrospective. Louie is not like that. Right now, Louie is like the Beatles in ’66, or maybe Joe DiMaggio in ’41. These half-hour explorations are not just deftly written, but formally inventive — the episode in which his racist aunt dies is structured unlike any American situation comedy ever produced. The episode from two weeks ago (when Louie explains why he needs to tell the person he loves that he loves her, even though he knows she can’t reciprocate) offhandedly illuminated a paradox I’ve unsuccessfully thought about for more than 20 years. I don’t have kids, but — if I did — I feel like Louie would resonate so deeply I’d almost be afraid of it. The level of insight and weirdness C.K. is jamming into these shows is flat-out unimpeachable, and I somehow get the sense that his entire audience is having the same experience as me. It’s a shared recognition of perfection, happening in the present tense. And this is not a situation like 2003, when everyone just sort of temporarily agreed that "Hey Ya!" was a terrific single; this is different. This is someone working on the most radical edge of mainstream culture and succeeding brilliantly without ever doing the same thing twice. There is no antecedent.
Klosterman clearly overstates things here (as he is wont to do), but he is right about this being some mighty fine television and I don't think it's absurd to at least make mention of Louie in a discussion of the greatest TV comedies. Another season or two like this one and it will easily be among the greatest.
(Sidenote: the website on which this article was posted, Grantland, is pretty terrific. It's a Sports + Pop Culture website created by Bill Simmons, that's much better than I would've guessed it could be.)
Posted 13 August 2011 - 07:25 AM
Posted 31 August 2011 - 04:43 PM