Last night’s opening of a 3 part arc on LOUIE took our breath away, asking, as it did, questions like:
“What price success?”
“Why do people in showbiz have to beat you up when presenting an opportunity?”
“Will Louie break?”
At least, those are the questions we thought were being asked. And Alison Willmore of Indiewire sort of agrees:
‘Louie’ Gets Lucky at Last With the Showbiz Offer All Comics Dream Of — Don’t They? – by Alison Willmore
Where do working stand-ups go if they don’t break big, if they have just enough success to keep grinding it out on the road, doing gigs around the country until they’re too tired? That dark kingdom is just as significant a presence as the crazy possibility of a major late night gig in last night’s episode of “Louie,” the first of a three parter, “Late Show Part 1.” Louie (Louis C.K.) gets flown to Los Angeles with his pre-adolescent agent Doug (Edward Gelbinovich) where he’s going to close out “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno.” He warms up with his four-and-a-half minute bit at the Improv the night before, a solid and thematically relevant piece about the luxuries and burdens of consumerism, and how “life is good, and so we want it to be better.” His biggest worry is that he’s going to be bumped, because the main guest on the show the following night is Tom Cruise, who tends to go long.
And then Cruise doesn’t show, scared off by the surprise Leno (playing himself) had planned for him (a motorcycle), and Louie’s suddenly getting promoted to lead guest by the apologetic host (“Tell an airplane story,” he suggests), having a mic slapped on him, getting showered down with hairspray and ushered into the bright lights of the studio. We don’t see his appearance, only the morning after, when Louie wakes up in his hotel room looking like he’s been dragged through the back alleys of Hollywood, and the melancholy music suggests maybe he bombed — except that he’s got multiple missed calls from Doug, who tells him the set already went viral on YouTube and that he’s got a meeting with someone high up at CBS in an hour.
The weirdness of the whole sequence, of Louie’s sudden showbiz hotness after a lucky break, of the very important meeting with someone unknown for reasons unknown, of confidentiality agreement and the unexpected giant potential job offer he’d never thought about being waved in front of his face — these things don’t actually seem that exaggerated from the reportedly reality of how these negotiations shake out. Bill Carter’s great reads “The Late Shift” and “The War for Late Night” make it clear, among other things, that some people have always aspired to host a late night talk show and others, like Craig Ferguson, come into it unexpectedly.
EDITED BY LB TO ADD: The question, “Why do people in showbiz have to beat you up when presenting an opportunity?” is a good one. I’ve had some terrific job opportunities in my career, but they’ve always been presented in the same way Louie’s was in this episode. “You’re an unworthy, miserable piece of shit, but I’m going to make you a king. Maybe. I dunno. Depends on how much you please me. Start dancing.”
I guess we’ll be seeing Louie dance for awhile. Others may find it amusing, but I know it’s going to break my heart.