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Friday, August 30, 2019


From the Vault Dept.: Speaking of comedy, and going back a mere decade this time, we find Louis C.K. peaking in his ascent to the top tier of American comedians. His terrific cable series “Louie” lay ahead – but so did his undoing. Industry power and sexual pecadillos are bad bedmates. Here’s a piece I wrote in advance of a performance of his in Albany, NY. Now the article seems more of a museum piece than ever.


LOUIS C.K. TAKES TO THE STAGE as a modern-day everyman who identifies those ingredients that make the seemingly commonplace hilarious. Such as the experience of trying to suppress an intense bathroom need as you hurry home. “And then I see my house,” he says, “and my eyes tell the rest of me, fuck it, man, let go, we’re here.” He widens his eyes, gives a little we’re-in-this-together grin, and adds, “Because my eyes are fuckin’ retarded and they don’t know the difference between the outside and the inside of my house.”

Louis C.K.
The pacing, the build-up, the payoff are all so well done that you forget he’s performing and feel as if you have a personal spokesman articulating your own folly.

“I work on a show during the summer,” he says. “I write on stage, in front of an audience. Here in New York City, there are clubs where I can do ten or fifteen minutes, and the show grows until by August or September I have something.” He’s a keen observer of the minutiae of everyday experiences – does he jot such thoughts in a notebook? “I lose notebooks. And if I write things down like that, my brain says, ‘Oh, it’s in a notebook’ and I forget it. But I record all my shows, so if I spend, say, five days alone with my kids, my brain gets wiped clean and I can go back to those recordings for the material.”

He pursued a dual career as writer and performer, with notable stints as one of the original writers of the Conan O’Brien Show, the Chris Rock Show (which won him an Emmy Award) and stints on the staffs of the David Letterman and Dana Carvey shows.

He’s had a tumultuous relationship with television, writing and starring in the successful but short-lived “Lucky Louie” for HBO, but it was his stand-up specials for that network: “Shameless” in 2007 and last year’s “Chewed Up” – that brought him his greatest acclaim.

The Egg show, “Louis C.K.: Hilarious,” follows in that tradition and will be filmed in March as another HBO special. Although, like any comedy show, it continues to evolve, what he performs in Albany is the essence of it. He doesn’t tailor it for different audiences or locations, because “audiences are audiences. Laughs may come at different places, but the contrast is interesting.” And don’t expect political or current events humor: “That’s beaten to death by the talk shows and the blogs. I mean, after you hear about something fifty different times, you say, ‘Yeah, I know that, Madonna is stupid, okay.’ Also, I’m not smart enough to be political. I mean, I’m interested in it, but it’s not my material.”

What you will get are his unexpectedly funny insights on subjects ranging from fatherhood to saving money to pursuing a middle-aged sex life. If there’s an echo of Bill Cosby, it’s no surprise. “He was one of my early influences, along with George Carlin and Richard Pryor and Steve Martin. And when was in high school, I’d watch Jay Leno on TV and I thought he was amazing.”

His new DVD, a recording of “Louis C.K.: Chewed Up” has just been released, and he’s satisfied with the way it came out – to a point. “I won’t watch it,” he says, “because then I might vomit. But it inspires me to work on the next one because I’m sure that one will be that much better.”

Louis C.K. will perform Friday (Feb. 6) at 8 PM at the Egg (Empire State Plaza, Albany). Tickets are $30 (advance) and $32 (day of show).

Metroland Magazine, 5 February 2009

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