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Sunday, July 31, 2011

"Louie" by Louis C.K.

Louie created by & starring Louis C.K.
I have been a fan of Louis C.K.'s comedy for a long time. His brand of humor suits me. It's honest, weird, and dark, but never mean-spirited, even at its most pointed. And it's most often pointed right at Louis himself.

This blend of confessional & observational comedy, where impolite truths are brought out in ways that make us laugh, is both intoxicating and cathartic for troubled souls like mine. And Louis C.K. is a master of skewering himself both hilariously & sympathetically. His rants about his aging body leave me breathless. (Yeah, they hit a little close to home.)

His comedy specials, like HilariousChewed Up, and Shameless, aren't just funny. They're deep in the way all the best comedy is, and they reward re-watching, which is a signal of their greatness as art. One of my favorite bits is when he tells about explaining mortality to his daughter for the first time -- and how she manages to digest the revelation by going outside to play. Another classic: when he takes both of his daughters to Italy, and his oldest encounters a group of wild ponies.

Louis C.K.'s personal life figures largely in his stand-up, and his sit-com, Louie, is no different. Its setup mirrors reality: it's about a single, middle-aged father who is a working comedian in New York City. Now in its second season on the FX network, Louie has actually avoided the sophomore slump. Indeed, as good as the first season was, the second season is even better.

The show even gets a little "meta" about comedy, as when the venerable Joan Rivers shows up for an episode to give Louis a little stern advice about their chosen profession. But don't worry about the sit-com veering off into preciousness. Just when you think the episode is getting a little too "inside baseball," it takes a turn back towards raucous hilarity (and it's great to see the old broad being such a sport).

I also enjoy the DIY nature of the show, with Louis himself handling all the writing, directing, and editing chores. There's a refreshing lack of slickness in the show's production, and its sets are always dingy and cramped, lending a kind of gritty realism to Louie, even during its most fantastical sequences, as when Louis daydreams about doing something heroic while riding the subway.

I hope Louie is around for a long time. You should check it out.

a comedy on the FX Network
written, directed, and starring Louis C.K.


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