Lovely Louis CK. Where to begin. If referring to him as ‘lovely’ appears to be an excuse for a shitty alliteration impulse, I assure you it’s not. I think Louis is lovely and I especially think his show is lovely. That’s his show LOUIE, which you already know about if you were drawn to this post. Even if you live in a part of the world where you don’t have access to FX where it airs in the US and Canada, you’ve no doubt heard about it and its many awards because you’re already an admirer of the man’s stand up.
Louis CK is a great stand-up comedian. One of his gifts is appearing to speak very casually and extemporaneously, but the structure for every joke and story is sound and it’s being a light-on-his feet story teller that allows you not to see the scaffolding. Jokes, like movies, are built, but what’s wonderful to me is that, while the solidly built foundation construction metaphor is apt, there’s a point with a joke where that built structure turns into a bird at the punchline, and flies. OK, so airplanes, not buildings. Built to fly.
It’s more appropriate than you might think for independent filmmakers to look at LOUIE because it bears less resemblance to a half-hour sit-com than it does to a weekly movie by an independent filmmaker. In professional film and TV terms the crew for LOUIE is tiny, with Louis CK running around NYC shooting digitally, sometimes just himself and Camera. He writes, directs and edits each episode himself, something that only recently changed, with the addition of Susan Morse as editor. Yes, Woody Allen’s longtime collaborator in the editing room.
Certainly you can feel his love of movies in each episode. I was shocked watching an episode in Season One, when I realized “Holy shit, this feels like Cassavetes. I think this is his Cassavetes episode.” Another early episode felt like his Woody Allen.
Melissa Leo is a favourite actress of ours – just watch when she turns up in Season 3, Episode 2. It’s a remarkable episode, not just because of her performance and the original writing, but because of the parallel Louis CK draws between Leo, his date that night, and his little daughter’s future life with men. CK is the male example, and a better example of gallows humour regarding dynamics between men and women you will not see.
Enough. Listen to the man himself being interviewed by Elvis Mitchell on KCRW’s The Treatment. It’s a pleasure.
Louis CK is currently touring North America with his new stand-up. Tickets, Downloads and DVDs of his work are available on louisck.com.
If you’re in the Toronto area, catch him at the Sony Centre September 27th. Go to JFL42.com for info and festival passes.