LOUIE, Stand-Up, and The Art of Comedy

We like LOUIE because it pours reality down our throats and makes us think as well as laugh about it while we’re swallowing. This isn’t exactly a common experience, which got Matt Zoller Seitz digging into some whys and wherefores:

Why Is Louie Such a Remarkable TV Show? Because It Makes Stand-Up Comedy Cinematic – by Matt Zoller Seitz

Why is Louie such a remarkable show? I don’t think it’s the content, which is alternately funny, sweet, and mortifying, sometimes all three. It’s the form, which is revolutionary.

TV history is filled with sitcoms driven by stand-up comics who have creative control, but without exception, they’ve all chosen a particular format and tone, and more or less stuck with them over the long haul. The Bob Newhart Show,The Cosby Show, and Everybody Loves Raymond, to name three durable sitcoms, were pretty much the same at the end as they were at the start. Others — such as Roseanne and Seinfeld — evolved, becoming faster or slower, or more or less farcical, but without losing touch with their essence. You might look, for example, at a late-season Seinfeld episode and think, This feels different than season two or three or I liked the show better when it was slower and subtler,but there’s virtually no chance that you’d think, This feels like the same actors in a different show.

Louie is an altogether different animal. It’s not enough to say that it takes its cues from the short story or anthology show or personal blog, though all three assertions are true. Saying the series takes place inside the mind of creator-star Louis C.K. doesn’t help, either, because it’s self-evident. In some sense, every creative work takes place inside the mind of whoever drives it. That’s why a work can be said to have a personality, a worldview — and in works that are perhaps more figurative than “realistic,” this comes through most strongly. You know when you’re watching How I Met Your Mother or Californication or Don’t Trust the B—- in Apartment 23 or Curb Your Enthusiasm that you aren’t seeing reality, but somebody’s subjectively warped version of reality. All comedy, indeed all art, is subjective. What sitcom isn’t a projection of the inside of someone’s mind?

No, Louie is unique for one reason, and it has to do with the execution of a vision — i.e., with style.

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Keep going for the truly awesome analysis. For our money, Seitz is right on.

A Quick Thought About Robin Williams

Can you imagine how difficult it must have been for an over-actor like Robin Williams, whose whole career has been about going off and careening around any and all scenes eating every actor and prop in his path, to underplay the way he did on that episode of LOUIE where Louis C.K. and Robin meet at the burial (it wasn’t really a funeral) of a mutual acquaintance (he wasn’t really a friend)?

Or, conversely, can you imagine how difficult it must have been for Louis to keep Robin down the way he did? To succeed where so many other directors have failed?

But it worked, and last week’s episode, “Barney/Never,” was as far as we’re concerned the best one so far this season. Even with the diarrhea in the tub bit. (Not because we have anything against diarrhea but because everything else seemed so intensely, painfully real and this…not.)

Why does the headline on this post use Robin Williams’ name instead of Louis C.K.’s? Because it’s Robin’s tight face, so unlike it’s ever been seen before on TV, that stayed with us long after the stink in the tub was forgot.

TVWriter™ thanks both comic masters for the ride.

Or, in the definitely-going-to-be-immortal words of DALLAS showrunner Cynthia Cidre: “I’d like to have more music.”

You got it. We’re never gonna let her live that down.

FX Picks up LOUIE for Another Season

…’Cuz there’s been a, you know, blow job in 5 out of the 6 episodes so far. (Yeah, we only saw one, but it was from an actress who just about a year ago won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar so that makes up for anything lacking anywhere, right?)

FX Orders Two More Seasons of It’s Always Sunny, Renews Wilfred and Louie by Hanh Nguyen

Let’s celebrate at Paddy’s Pub! It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphiawill be around for two more seasons.

John Landgraf, FX’s president and general manager, announced Saturday at the Television Critics Association fall TV previews that the network has renewed Sunny for two seasons, and also picked up Wilfred and Louiefor another 13-episode season apiece…

Wilfred, the oddball comedy starring Elijah Wood and Jason Gann as a guy in a dog suit, debuted this year and is watched by 5 million viewers a week. Louie, created by and starring comedian Louis C.K., has increased its ratings to 3 million viewers, up 56 percent over its freshman season.

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Notice how, OldMedia bastion that it is, TVGuide.Com just sort of tosses LOUIE (and WILFRED) in as add-ons? Well, we always knew the old folks had problems with B.J.s and bestiality. Except maybe Bill Clinton, although we may be imagining the bestiality thing. Now that they’re both in NY, wonder if Bill hangs with Louis C.K….

munchman Sees LOUIE S03 E02

That loving “after the BJ” moment we all know so well

“I’m glad she was able to parlay an Academy Award into a part on a TV show where she blows Louis C.K. In a car.”

Todd Barry on Melissa Leo’s appearance on LOUIE, as reported by Anna Peele of Esquire.Com.

So this season’s going to be all about sex? Or will it escalate to the War Between the Sexes?

The first, I can enjoy. The second, I live with everyday. And as a guy, I know I’ve already lost.

Wait, here’s my serious problem with this season now that we’re 2 episodes in. So far, I haven’t seen anything new to me. Tightly written, maybe even brilliantly written relationship/sex moments that you don’t see anywhere else (although Judd Apatow sometimes tries), but still, they’re moments I’ve lived and thoughts (I’m afraid to claim them as “insights”) I’ve had.

But during the first 2 seasons I was always being – Surprise! – introduced to new realities viewed by Louis C.K. in ways I’d never come up with. And I loved heading down those winding but so, so, so real paths. Are we going to veer off that way again, Louie? I wanna play in the woods.


LOUIE is Back! Tonight!

A TVWriter™ Don’t Miss, even if the Hollywood Reporter, which becomes more obsolete by the second, loves it. Sometimes even dying publications can get their swan songs right. (? Never mind. Sorry.)

Louie: TV Review
by Tim Goodman

Still TV’s greatest comedy, with observational humor, a sad-sack life, a fearless look into the mundane — FX’s “Louie” is a thing of original beauty…

The Bottom Line
A fictional look at the life of Louie C.K., based kinda-sorta on his own, filled with outrageous laughs, a DIY sensibility, no creative interference and the kind of ground-up originality that’s so simple and hilariously true that it almost shocks you with how naturalistic the show is…

In its third season Louie is the gold standard for comedy and it remains both ridiculous and humanistic as ever, like a show handed over to a guy who didn’t want to make something the way that everybody before him had.

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