22nd January 2013, 9pm, Fox
I have been aware of Louis CK’s assault up the comedy mountain for a few years now. And have followed the zeitgeist through it’s original love of all things CK to the inevitable trailing off, as people became familiar with his personality and shtick and decided that maybe he’s not that funny after all.
However, I have somehow managed to miss all this and only caught some of his stand up a few weeks ago, steeped in the fug of a New Year’s Eve hangover when he managed to pry a few chuckles out of me.
The show is structured in a way that reflects many of the great comedy successes of the last twenty years. So we have the footage of Mr CK’s stand-up routines linked up to little story lines which provide the germ of the idea that informs the stand-up; all very Seinfeld.
The storylines themselves are more akin to the moments of social awkwardness of Larry David’s ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’, though the difference in personalities between Messrs David and CK lead to different types of conflict and resolution.
In ‘Seinfeld’, the balance was very much towards story line and it often ejected the opening stand-up altogether and ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’ got rid of it entirely. Whereas in ‘Louie’ the off stage parts are little more than sketches (from this opening episode anyway) and the stand-up is the main ingredient with the rest there to break up, contrast and highlight the spoken word.
The most important thing about the show however, is that it’s just really funny. The humour is not crazy or ground breaking, just good, solid observational stuff about being a 41 year old divorcee trying to bring up his two daughters properly whilst creating a new life for himself.
As I say, it’s not original – but CK does have a particularly nihilistic and pessimistic logic that is very appealing. His bit about how relationships always end up “shitty” was excellent…
“It’s hard to really, like, look at somebody and go, hey, maybe something nice will happen…Or you’ll meet the perfect person, who you love infinitely, and you even argue well, and you grow together, and you have children, and then you get old together, and then she’s going to die. That’s the best-case scenario.”
This was followed by a sketch about his first date after breaking up with his wife, so you hear the theory of the joke in the stand=up and then you get the practice in the sketch…sort of.
CK is like a very funny friend; his delivery is base and blunt, yet elegant and thoughtful at the same time. He speaks in the language of the pub and his stand up does not shy away from words and thoughts that most of use every day but is deemed too risqué when put on the goggle box.
The good thing about not always about being on the pulse of certain cultural phenomena is that you know what to invest in your time in. I have 3 series (4th on the way) of ‘Louie’ to catch up on and after watching this first episode I know that I have a lot of laughs ahead of me.