Louis C.K. is the comedian who makes all the other comedians think “I’m not funny enough,” and “I’m not working hard enough.” This week, Entertainment Weekly called him, “the world’s greatest comedian.” A deserving title to the man who cranks out an hour of great, edgy material every year, tours the country with it, and is on the 3rd season of his innovative hit show Louie on FX. C.K. manages to write, direct, and star in every episode with his busy schedule.
Outside of all that, he’s the first comedian to find success releasing his specials on his own website, only charging his fans $5 to download them. His first web special, Live at the Beacon Theater, made a $200,000 profit in four days and later made over a million dollars. Louis donated many of the proceeds to various charities ($280,000).
This experiment paved the way for other comedians to avoid the hassle of finding networks to air their specials. Comics such as Jim Gaffigan have already followed Louis’ lead.
If you saw Louie‘s premiere Thursday night, I’m sure you found that the show lived up to the raw, dark, and absurd awkwardness of the first two seasons. Whether it was seeing C.K. uncomfortably ride a motorcycle, or watching him fake interest in a nowhere relationship, the show was at its best.
I was able to see the next four episodes of the season and I can assure you there’s much more to look forward to. One such provocative story line includes a bromance between Louie, a balding middle-aged man, and a young sculpted Latino lifeguard, which takes place in Miami. Most of the episode focuses on Louie’s fondness of the lifeguard, which was frequently hilariously uncomfortable.
One of the interesting themes in season three is that Louie seems motivated to find a serious love interest.
I was able to ask Louis a few questions this week over the phone as he did a conference call to promote Louie‘s season three premiere:
What was it a few years ago that clicked for you and gave your standup new life? And also, what were some of the technical things you’ve forced yourself to work on over the years?
Well, standup-wise, I think it’s just time spent onstage. I had been doing it for about 20 years when I sort of figured it out. That’s just kind of how long it takes. And also, you grow up. I have kids now, and that puts real, actual-life pressure on you rather than just some guy kicking around with a show-business career. There’s not much to draw from there. So I think that made a difference.
And technically, I’ve learned that having good legs and wind is good for being onstage—if you’re in shape and have endurance. I just learned some things from guys. Chris Rock taught me to always look up; you don’t look down at your feet. A lot of comedians want to look down at their feet. You break contact with the audience. So he told me just a really simple fact of the whole thing, which is just look at the back of the room. Don’t look at the front row; look at the back row.
I noticed you make an effort to put a lot of younger comics on your show, and last year in Chicago you had sold-out shows with some of the older comics who influenced you when you were starting (Richard Lewis, Steven Wright, Jake Johannsen). Can you talk about why it’s important for you to include comics like that?
Well, I do love standup. I love comedians. They’re my community. And also, I guess, because I know so many of them, I know the value of them. I know what they can do.
Comedians work great as actors because they’re good under pressure. A lot of actors you have to sort of make them feel like everything’s going really well to get a good performance out of them. But if you have a comedian on the set, you can tell them, “Hey, you really are screwing this up,” and then they just get better. So they’re valuable that way.
And I loved bringing Steven Wright and Richard Lewis to my show in Chicago. That was really fun to do. They paid me a lot for the show, so I figured, “I don’t need all this money. I’d rather have a great, great bunch of opening acts.”
In closing, here is something hilarious… Louie insulting his fans on Twitter.
Season three of Louie is now on FX Thursdays at 9:30 PM Central.
@louisck on Twitter