Posted: Mon Jul 21, 2008 10:47 pm Post subject: Louis CK
Louis CK: the comedian that Ricky Gervais calls the funniest in America Bruce Dessau
July 22, 2008
If tickets for his UK shows sell out, Louis CK should pay Ricky Gervais commission. The skilful American stand-up is hardly known over here, but a resounding endorsement from the all-conquering clown on his posters should reap handsome dividends. “The funniest stand-up working America,” Gervais declares. If that doesn't get people turning up, nothing will.
After more than 20 years in the business, this affable, Washington-born 40-year-old, who bagged an Emmy for his writing on The Chris Rock Show, is getting the kind of support from Gervais that rivals can only dream about. CK - the name is a childhood condensation of his Hungarian surname, Szekely - co-stars in Gervais's Hollywood directorial debut This Side of the Truth. “I play Ricky's best friend,” he explains, which is also what he has become in real life.
It was a minor role until Gervais smelt the chemistry and fleshed him out. “It was a huge thrill. The English version of The Office was one of my most favourite things in the world. A lot of US sitcoms are predictable; this was unique, a great piece of human storytelling. Most people in the world live in Slough. I love comedy that makes you laugh, but also makes you go, ‘Oh my God, how could you even say that?' That's awe-inspiring.”
The Office influenced CK's own 2006 sitcom Lucky Louie, but after one series his version of a “gloves-off, no-bullshit, no-saccharine, real marriage” was cancelled. “I think people like to hear bad people cursing, but they don't like to hear families cursing. The Sopranos can be profane because they are murderers, but we were supposed to be mum and dad trying to live an honest living. I think parents have earnt the right to say fuck and cunt and smoke and drink when their kids are not looking. That's how most parents I know cope, but people didn't want to see it.”
Maybe they also didn't want to see him naked. “The show was like my stage act, driven by honesty. So we had a scene where my wife and I are having sex, then I get up and go to the bathroom and we realised I wouldn't have underwear on, so we just did it.” Another scene in which his brother-in-law waggled his penis in his face may have been a US comedy first but it did not save the show. “People that complain make trouble. People that aren't offended don't march,” he says philosophically.
CK onstage could be described as a freckly, irritable, American Gervais, pushing comedy to the limit with contentious riffs on sex, race and religion. If you are a devout Roman Catholic it might be advisable to avoid his YouTube diatribe against child-abusing priests. He is on more universal ground discussing the way post office queues mooch around (“like a silent movie of impatient people”) or coming to terms with the shock of sprouting middle-aged man boobs (“It's the only thing that a 12-year-old girl and a 40-year-old man have in common”).
“I try to be honest. I don't pull any punches,” he says. “A muscle or bone was removed from me in recent years that previously made me afraid of offending. I used to be more cautious, but now people laugh so hard they describe the pain to a doctor. That's gold for me.”
Yet being described as politically incorrect makes him flinch: “You picture a guy in a black leather jacket with a cigarette hanging out of his mouth saying 'f*** the Pope'. That's not me. It seems to me that the funniest places to mine for laughs are the places people are not used to going. But there is no point going there just to annoy people.”
He does not even think he is that controversial: “Look at Peter Cook and Dudley Moore when they did Derek and Clive. It was just two men sitting in a room burping and saying disgusting things. Ricky and I were talking about them and we both felt that that's as far as comedy has ever gone. We are within the limit compared to those guys.”
The Gervais connection could turbo-charge a film career, but he is wary of swapping theatres for multiplexes: “I'd rather write a new show every year and tour.” He has seen seminal comedians from Eddie Murphy to Steve Martin pursue the Hollywood holy grail with mixed results. “Those people have only made three good movies between them in the past 25 years. All I can think of is how much time those guys wasted on the set.”
Judy's looking good these days - I suspect she's had some work done.
haha yeah, they've taken years off her!
Here's a comment from mister CK after completely dying on stage in Dublin earlier in the week. "Holy nigger tits did they hate me. I did half an hour. Fifteen minutes in people were just chatting like I wasn't there."
Nigger tits? I'd be interested to hear Gervais' answer as to what he meant!
On CK's official site he's linked to the video I put on youtube and had these comments about appearing on Richard and Judy...
Yesterday I appeared on a show here called "Richard and Judy". It's like Regis and Kelley. It's on at 5pm and mostly housewives and prisoners watch it. I was reminded about 48 times that you can't swear on the show. Also the "Judy" part of the show was on vacation, so filling in for her was Baby Spice, who now goes by Emma, and . The interview starts with Ricky Gervais sending me a personal message, which was really cool....
Awkward at the end there. I don't know what his problem was with Chris Rock. I was told after that Chris was on his show and Richard thought he was rude. I can guarantee he wasn't. Chris is a very courteous almost old fashioned nice young black man. Also he's a lot funnier than this Richard cunt with his shitty beer joke.
After my segment they spent ten minutes making fun of the way the Prime Minister dresses. What kind of poeple are these?? who gives a shit what a politician wears?
So apparently I'm either a criminal or a housewife to have watched this and made it available for him to use... the silly twat.
Also, to make even the slightest comparison between how funny Chris Rock and Richard Madeley are boggles the mind! Has he never met a buffoon before? And how can he say that Chris Rock wasn't rude if he's not seen the interview?
New Louis C.K. Comedy ‘Hard to Describe,’ Says Louis C.K. By Dave Itzkoff
New York Times
21st August 2009
Though his run on the cult HBO series “Lucky Louie” wasn’t especially fortunate, the comedian Louis C.K. will return to cable television next year in a new FX series called “Louie,” the network announced on Thursday. And its star and creator is already promising a series unlike anything he’s done before.
“It’s not like other shows, and I don’t mean to brag,” Louis C.K. said in a telephone interview. “I just mean that it’s hard to describe.” Actually, “Louie” isn’t that hard to pin down: Louis C.K. said the show would combine short autobiographical comedy films, about his life as a single divorced father and a comedian, with segments of him performing standup routines that would be thematically tied to the films. “It’s very vignette-y,” Louis C.K. said. “It’s very vérité. All those French words. I use ‘em all.”
The show will be shot in New York, and Louis C.K. will write and direct it himself. “I’m even editing it,” he said. “It’s basically all being generated by my MacBook. To me it’s the most comforting way to work.” Production for “Louie” is planned to begin in November, after Louis C.K. finishes shooting a recurring role for the NBC sitcom “Parks and Recreation,” and the new show is expected to start airing in 2010. The comedian is also nominated for an Emmy Award for his Showtime standup special “Louis C.K.: Chewed Up.”
For those fans who fondly recall the short-lived “Lucky Louie,” a dark family sitcom that was shown for one season on HBO, Louis C.K. said that show was “my favorite thing I’ve done so far.” But his new series, he said, “is my favorite job I’ve ever been given.”
Questions for Louis C.K. The stand-up talks about the new season of Louie and defends Tracy Morgan against charges of homophobia.
June 17, 2011
On his comedy album Hilarious, Louis C.K. describes the time his older daughter was bitten by an Italian pony. "How do you more break a little girl's heart than a pony bite? That's like being raped by Santa Claus." It's a typical C.K. bit: It's raunchy and a little bit sad, and it is fundamentally about his heroic efforts—and failures—to be a great dad.
Fatherhood is also central to his TV show, Louie, which is loosely based on his life as a divorced dad of two little girls. The show is a meandering, sometimes surrealist ride, which doesn't follow the beats of a traditional sitcom. Slate talked to C.K. about the second season of Louie, which premieres on Thursday, June 23 (FX, 10:30 p.m. EST); about how he manages to direct, write, edit, and star in the show while taking care of his kids; and about why he is standing up for Tracy Morgan after the 30 Rock star has been accused of homophobia.
Slate: Your identity—both as a character, a stand-up, and a person—seems to revolve around your being a father. What was the core of your identity before you were a dad? How did you define yourself then?
Louis C.K.: That's a good question. I don't really remember what it was like before. Whatever I had going on, it was bullshit. It wasn't important. It's kind of a nice thing about being a dad. My identity is really about them now, and what I can do for them, so it sort of takes the pressure off of your own life. What am I going to do, who am I? Who cares, you've got to get your kids to school. So I like it that way.
Slate: Are the bits you do about your daughters generally true? Did your daughter actually get bitten by a pony?
Louis C.K.: My daughter really did get bit by a pony, and so that was true, and I felt like a piece of shit, and she really was very positive about it. I do feel a lot of times like I'm out of my league with my kids in terms of what my responsibility is. Those parts are true. As far as when I make them behave badly on stage and in my show, that's all fiction. My kids are really easy. I often worry that they're too easy to deal with. They're really nice people. But that just wouldn't be as entertaining, so I just leave that part out.
Slate: In an episode from the first season of Louie, a single mom your character meets at a PTA meeting tells you, "Just by showing up, you're father of the year." Do you think you have more freedom to talk about being a dad because there are fewer expectations placed on fathers in general?
Louis C.K.: It's funny—in life, those roles have all changed. There's a lot of fathers who take care of their kids, there's a lot of mothers who have careers. But in culture, those roles are still the same. When I take my kids out for dinner or lunch, people smile at us. A waitress said to my kids the other day, "Isn't that nice that you're getting to have a little lunch with your daddy?" And I was insulted by it, because I'm like, I'm fucking taking them to lunch, and then I'm taking them home, and then I'm feeding them and doing their homework with them and putting them to bed. She's like, Oh, this is special time with daddy. Well, no, this is boring time with daddy, the same as everything.
If I do something for my kids, I get a medal, because most fathers don't. If a mother makes a tremendous effort for her kids and does incredible things, no one gives a shit, because she's a mom, and that's what she's supposed to do. It's like giving a bus driver a medal for driving straight ahead. Nobody's interested. And that's really not fair, but it is the way it is.
Slate: You write, produce, direct, edit, and star in Louie, and you also have joint custody of your two daughters, so you're a single dad when you have the kids. What's a typical week like for you?
Louis C.K.: It's pretty crazy. Starting with the first shooting day, I get up at 6 in the morning and go to the set. Shoot from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., get a little bit of time to myself, but not much, then either go out and do a set to keep my chops up onstage, or I go home and edit. If I'm not done writing the series, then I have to do a little writing. I often bring my laptop to work and write and edit during the shooting when I have breaks. So it's a pressing, difficult day until 7 o'clock. I also meet with all the production people and make decisions about future shoots. Then I get home at 9 or 10 and collapse and go to sleep, get up the next morning, same thing, usually three days in a row.
Then on the fourth day, I'll shoot half a day, and then pick up my kids at school. I take them home, do their homework with them, feed them dinner, put them in the tub, get them in bed. Then I'll edit while they're sleeping. Next morning, get up at 6:30, feed them, make them lunches, get them to school. Then usually I'll try to sleep while they're in school. Then I'll either do postproduction, or writing, or logistics with my production people.
Slate: From your stand-up persona, it seems like in your spare moments, you are a pretty dark thinker. Are you happier keeping incredibly busy?
Louis C.K.: Oh, definitely. I like being active, it keeps my brain going. And it's all worthwhile stuff. I love working on the show, even though the pressure is enormous and it's very exhausting. And the kids put a lot of pressure [on you], and they're hard to care for sometimes. It's all positive, it's just too much. The only thing that gets me down is failing at it. When it gets quiet, I get a little empty.
Slate: Do you feel like the few failures you've had—the cancelation of the HBO show Lucky Louie, the critical drubbing of the movie you wrote and directed, Pootie Tang—have taught you anything?
Louis C.K.: I learned that those things aren't so bad. I learned that the benefit of the education is worth the trouble. It goes away. You take a few days off, and let yourself wallow, and then you get a little tired of hearing it from yourself, and then you get interested in something else. It would be like if you could go to hell, for a visit, before you die, and you found out it wasn't so bad. If damnation is actually kind of comfortable, the place they put you up is kind of nice, and the people are cool. And then you go back to your life and say, Fuck this, man. I'm doing whatever I want.
Having a movie go down in flames and having a series canceled, and the cancelation cheered by the fucking TV intelligentsia, those are the two hells of putting yourself out there and trying to make a show. I've lived them both, and it wasn't so bad. I still had wind in my sails, so now I'm not afraid to do that anymore.
Slate: You were defending Tracy Morgan on Twitter this week for some controversial jokes he made at a show in Nashville. [Morgan said that homosexuality is a choice, and that if he had a gay son he would stab him to death.] Why did you think it was clear that he was "fucking around"?
Louis C.K.: Well I've said a lot of things that were worse than what he said. I have my things that make it OK for people when I say them. I have my irony and different levels that I'm working at, so that makes it OK for people around me, for people that come to my shows. And people heard this Tracy shit mostly third-hand. He didn't stand on a public stage and say this stuff. He didn't make these announcements: "Here, America, are my views." Where you say something makes a huge difference about what you say and what it means and what you let yourself say.
There's a lot of times when I let myself channel bad ideas as a way to do comedy. I think it's something that's a healthy thing to do, honestly. And I think the person who really fucked people up and hurt people with Tracy's words was whoever took it out of that Nashville club and put it on the national stage—whoever called Huffington Post or whoever started this shit, and said, "Guess what Tracy Morgan said," and announced it to the rest of the world. He wasn't trying to say it to the rest of the world. So when I read stuff like, How are gay people going to feel when they read this? Well they didn't have to read it! They weren't part of that show. Maybe there were gay people there who were laughing. You don't fucking know. Nobody gets to say that they represent anybody and they're offended on behalf of the whole world.
You can see this shit really bothers me. I didn't carefully inspect what he said. I heard some of it, and it made me laugh. I didn't get the context, but I have to defend it, because if I was in his role, if I was in his situation, which I might be someday—which I already am for having said something on his behalf—I would want someone to step forward and say something. This is a freedom that I live off of. I think, whatever, if Tracy made a mistake, he certainly didn't deserve all of this. And I don't know him well, but he's a good guy. So I'm using that judgment, of just, hey, I met him and he's a good guy. And I get a sense of him as a father, and there's no way he would stab his kid.
It's a dumb thing to take at face value. You'd have to be a moron. And if you do, you are not allowed to laugh at any more jokes. You are not allowed to laugh at any jokes that have any violence or negative feelings attached to them, ironically or otherwise. I think there's a lot of hypocrisy in that. If anybody thinks that what he said is true and there's no comedy in it, don't come to my shows. I've said to many audiences that I think you shouldn't rape someone unless you have a good reason, like you want to fuck them and they won't let you. That's worse than what he said! And I didn't wink and say, just kidding. I just said it.
Slate: But you first told that joke a while ago, right? I wonder if you had initially told that joke today, with the Internet what it is now, if it would have become more of a firestorm.
Louis C.K.: That's absolutely true, and it's dangerous. Of course I wouldn't fucking rape anybody. Of course it's not OK. It's stupid to even have to say that out loud, but that's where all this is headed, and that's why I said something. That's why I got into this dirty mess, and I know it is dirty, and I know that there's a lot of people who are going to say, "Oh, I must not really care about gay people's problems." Of course I do! I've devoted several chunky bits to telling people to leave gay people alone. I'm out there saying it 50 ways to Sunday. It's not about that. But this shit really bothers me, it really does.
Slate: Finally, what's the best thing you saw on the Internet this week?
Louis C.K.: Jeez, I don't know. I don't see a lot of stuff on the Internet, where I go, "Oh, awesome." You know what? I watched Family Guy on Netflix and I laughed really hard. It was something to do with that fucking dog. I think that's what it was.
Meet Louis C.K., the comedian's comedian
August 13, 2011
It's not often a comedian receives a standing ovation before he opens his mouth but that's what happened two weeks ago when American stand-up comic Louis C.K. took the stage at Montreal's Just for Laughs festival. Before the 43-year-old had even reached the microphone, the 1400 fans in the Theatre Maisonneuve were on their feet and screaming, a deafening blend of adulation and anticipation.
Tall, paunchy and balding, with the lumbering gait and unenthused demeanour of a washing machine repairman, C.K. (short for Szekely), has emerged as the brightest star in the comedy firmament, described by Chris Rock as the ''greatest comic mind of the last quarter-century'' and by Ricky Gervais as the ''funniest stand-up working in America''.
Long esteemed by fellow comedians - in Montreal he was awarded Comedy Person of the Year - C.K. (pictured) was this year nominated for four Emmy Awards, two of which for his television comedy series, Louie. Now approaching its second season in the US (the first season aired last year in Australia on the Comedy Channel), Louie is smart, raw and uncomfortably real, a semi-autobiographical rummage around the everyday mortifications of life as a divorced single dad. (In life, as in the show, C.K. is divorced and shares custody of his two young children.)
The show is notable not only for its formlessness - no narrative arcs, no neat wrap-ups - but for the almost unheard-of freedom afforded to its creator. ''I do the show completely by myself,'' C.K. says backstage after his Montreal show. ''I write it on my own and I direct it and edit it and act in it. I don't make a lot of money doing it but that's how I keep the creative freedom, so it's a trade-off.''
Louie has brought C.K. mainstream acclaim in North America but it is in many ways an adjunct to his main game, which is, and always has been, stand-up. Stand-up is where he began, as an 18-year-old in Boston's thriving open-mic scene: ''I failed miserably,'' he says. ''It was terrible, I got no laughs. But it didn't hurt that bad: I thought, 'If that's the worst it gets, I can handle that.'''
And stand-up has since provided a fallback when gigs as a writer for other comedians - David Letterman, Conan O'Brien, Rock - came to an end, or when his outings on film and TV fell flat. (C.K. has made two movies, a black-and-white indie flick called Tomorrow Night, and Pootie Tang, a hip-hop satire that crashed when the studio stepped in and re-edited his material. His 2006 TV series, Lucky Louie, was cancelled after one season.)
Such disappointments have all fed into his act, which combines self-loathing - he calls himself a ''professional arsehole'' and ''a miserable, withered soul'' - with broad, reeking slathers of misanthropy, his targets including Germans in sandals and single men who go camping with just a tent and a bicycle.
While he is famous for never repeating the same show, his performances are reliably cathartic and ickily confessional - at the Theatre Maisonneuve, he told of getting a hand job from a prostitute in a car in Montreal, only to realise halfway through that she was a he. (''It was something about the firmness of the grip … '')
Masturbation, sex, gays - they all get an airing, as does the dark underbelly of parenthood. In one routine, which he performed when he was still married, he told of looking at his daughter and thinking: ''This is my child! She has my DNA, my name. I would die for her. And [then] you look at your spouse and you go, 'Who the f--- are you? You're a stranger. Why do I take shit from you?'''
C.K. is relishing what will be his first trip to Australia, where his shows sold out in minutes. ''I love that it's all grown organically,'' he says. ''There's something fun about going there, not having done anything or built up the show, just going out and picking up the microphone. I like the idea that people are going 'What the f---? Who is this guy?'''
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