There's no doubt that today's most celebrated stand up comedian is Louie C. K. Louie's hard-hitting, dark, and brutally honest show Louie on FX connects with many viewers across the country. A few years before the FX series, Louie took an innovative approach to the standard sitcom.
His predominantly uncensored show Lucky Louie hit with his fans, but only lasted one season on HBO. Louie also wrote for the Late Show with David Letterman, Late night with Conan O'Brien, and the Chris Rock show, where he was also a producer.
Many of today's top working comedians have cited Louie as an inspiration. Not only does his material come from a raw, sincere place when speaking on such topics as his divorce or his children, but his work ethic is top of the line. For several years, Louie has been treating his audiences to a new hour of material every year.
A new hour of material takes most comics several years to put together, and not only is Louie able to gather new material quickly, but it never disappoints. This fact as well as his hit show are why he has been selling out the largest theaters in the country this past year.
C. K.'s work ethic is also apparent in his television show, as he not only stars in it, but writes, directs, produces and edits the show.
The show is currently in the middle of its second season and FX invited me to participate in a Q&A with Louie. I was able to ask Louie a question along with people from other media outlets.
Here are some of the most interesting questions and responses from Louie:
Matthew Newlin (starpulse.com): You're doing the editing, the writing, the directing, starring, producing, you're doing everything with the show, which aspect is most difficult for you during the season?
L CK: I'd say the writing is most difficult because that's where it all starts and if I don't get it done, there's no way to do the other ones. There's bad versions of the other ones that can actually yield a TV show, but if I don't get the writing done, there's nothing to shoot.
I can't call upon the writing... If I'm having a bad day, I can still sort of have a strong coffee and direct well. But with writing, if I'm sort of down, nothing comes and the whole show collapses. So the writing has the most pressure and it's the hardest, but it's also the most rewarding when it works out.
The Good, the Bad, and the Tiki Podcast asked Louie about his decision to illustrate humanity in his show...
L CK: Well it all starts with funny for me. I think things are funnier when you put them in context that feel more real and have other things in them besides just comedy. In other words, comedy that sort of lives in a petri dish, like comedy movies or sitcoms, where everything that's being done is geared technically towards being funny, they can sort of make you laugh in a physical way.
But when you're put in a story where you're really invested in what's happening emotionally, and with your curiosity and suspense, and all those other things that you can stimulate, then funny fires on more cylinders. it just makes more of you laugh.
It makes you laugh in emotional relief, or it makes you laugh with surprise with not just like, "Wow, that was a well written joke," but "Holy sh*t that was so funny because of what happened before and because of that poor guy ..." And all that stuff.
Bill Jones (padsandpanels.com): On the season one commentary you reveal yourself to be kind of a film buff from the lenses you talk about to using, the different techniques you've tried in the show... Is there anything moving into season two that you're experimenting with as far as the filming and the editing of the show go?
L CK: Absolutely. I think we got better as a crew. You know a film crew is a bit like a sports team, if you play together for a while, you start to just know each other's moves. We were, I think, way better this year, as far as everybody knowing what they need to bring to set.
We bought this vintage, they're called Super Baltar lenses, and they're very old. And we bought the set, so we kind of own this look that we used on a few projects. So we got into that and some of it was just getting better. We used a new thing called a split diopter, it's not new, it's very old, but it was new to us. So I'm always looking for new stuff to do visually. And this year also, was much more ambitious, as far as how much we shot and how much went into each story.
So I think visually it's going to be a better looking show. And also the music, the musicians I work with, we do this music in the studio that's tailor-made for the show, and I think we all got better too. The music is better, visually the show is better, as far as editing, I'm definitely getting better at that myself, but also I get a lot of pressure to turn this sh*t in, so I wish the editing was better. I wish I had more time. The show would be better if I had more time, that's the thing I'll shamefully admit.
Fred Topel (screenjunkies.com): The upcoming episode Bummer/Blueberries, are either of those incidents based on either real women who ended up interested in you for weird reasons?
L CK: No neither of those things ever happened. They're both total fantasies. There's a lot of very attractive, well put-together women in show business, you know, like assistants and agents that I've met, people that work on TV shows. And the few times that I've reached out to one of them, it's been a laughable gulf between us.
So this was a fantasy, what if someone just wanted to spend time with me for the hell of it... The thing with the bum, the homeless guy, that kind of stuff happens sometimes in New York that you suddenly get targeted by somebody and I just got this thing in my head, (SPOILER!!!) what if I started a story with a really grizzly, horrible thing happening that involved me, but didn't involve me enough where I actually had to stop.
I don't know the guy and the reason his head comes off is I wanted to make it clear that there was nothing I could have done to help. If he had just gotten hit by the truck, then I would have stayed there and made sure an ambulance came, but once the head comes off of a total stranger, you pretty much don't have any obligation anymore. That's just something I dreamt up.
Chris Piers (televisionzombies.com): Some of your early stand up material was much more absurd and now your stand up and the show seem to come from a deeply personal place. I was curious where and when that point of view came from.
L CK: I think when you first start doing stand up, you're just trying to learn how to be onstage, to just be existing, and have a presence onstage is the first huge leap. It takes years and years. That takes like a good fifteen years. Until then you're just trying to think of funny stuff to say, you're trying to come up with material.
But then you kind of cross a line, I don't know when it happened to me, where you just are onstage and it's second nature and it doesn't feel like such a big deal anymore and you feel like you can say anything. Then it just gets more interesting to talk about stuff that's deeper.
I reached some point where I realized the thoughts that I'm having all day, you know when you're going through a bunch of days of your life, there's one thought that's with you for like a whole week, there's like one theme to that week for you, like a big feeling. I learned that that's probably good comedy material.
I used to think you reel this out of your brain then you come up with external observations for comedy, but then I learned no, you go to the big thought, and people will like it. Learning is exponential. Once something works you try it a whole bunch more times, it's like a mud slide into that direction.
tvmegasite.net asked Louie who his comedy inspirations were...
L CK: Bill Cosby was the first comedian that I loved. When I was a real little kid, Laurel and Hardy. Stand ups, Bill Cosby was the first one I was aware of, I loved him. I loved George Carlin, I loved Richard Pryor, and then I loved Steve Martin. He's the first person that made me think maybe I could do it, because I had an absurd kind of a voice when I was a kid. He opened up the possibility that you could do stand up in a way that wasn't simple or kind of just telling stories and jokes because he was so strange.
I loved Woody Allen. Eddy Murphy used to make me laugh really hard. Steven Wright was a guy who was from Boston where I started and he inspired me a lot when I was younger too. Joan Rivers, I love Joan Rivers.
Entertainment Weekly: Will Ricky Gervais be back as Dr. Ben and what other guest stars are you excited about this season?
L CK: He won't be back this year. I know, it's too bad. I loved having Ricky on. I think that that ran it's course though. It was just sort of a good two part bit. Outside of him, we have Joan Rivers this year. Joan Rivers will be playing herself. She's on the fourth episode. It's a really great one. It's all about me meeting her. It's not just like a little cameo. She's playing a pretty big part. That's most of it, otherwise I don't have a whole lot of famous people on the show.
Scott King (that's me): You're on your second season of a show that doesn't just get a lot of viewers, the comedy community seems to be behind it one hundred percent. Is this the type of thing you hoped to have when you were starting out as a comic on the East Coast?
L CK: Yeah, I mean I sure wanted a TV show that could be as good as it could be and people liked it. Yeah, this is nice (Laughs). I didn't know that I saw this, exactly. I don't know that I had this as a vision of what I wanted to be doing. It just turned into this. I got good at a different array of skills and they kind of came together in the show. I love doing the show.
I sure do like that people like it, and the comedy community and viewers. To me, comedy is about an audience. The audience is the instrument almost. It's like you're playing them like a horn in a way. So if they're not there to laugh, there's no point. So yeah, I like that people like the show, that it's working for somebody.
You can catch Louie Thursdays on FX at 9:30 PM Central.
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Tags: Chris Rock, Comedy Cellar, Conan, Conan O'Brien, David Letterman, Eddie Murphy, FX, Joan Rivers, Late Night with Conan O'Brien, Late Show, Late Show with David Letterman, Louie, Louie C.K., Louie CK, Louis C.K., Louis CK, Ricky Gervais, Steven Wright, the Chris Rock Show, Woody Allen