Last night marked the debut of the new Louis C.K. comedy Louie. We’ve been anxiously waiting for the half-hour comedy to air for the last few weeks. C.K. is one of our favorite comics working today. We’re also probably part of the few that were really pissed when HBO canceled Lucky Louie after only one season a few years back. But we’re all a bit older and wiser and its great to see that an edgy network like FX took a chance on Louis C.K. again for the resulting show has been put on our short list for favorite new show of the year!
Louie is a very simple premise of a show, shoot C.K. in a comedy club telling jokes and then cut to longer, acted out versions of situations that could easily be from his own life. The show isn’t really a sitcom, more 2-3 funny-as-shit short stories with C.K. entertaining a crowd, a-la Seinfeld intros in between. And like Seinfeld, the bits work because they appear to be ripped directly from C.K’s life. He is sometimes so perfectly awkward in these scenes one gets the impression he’s passing along some firsthand experience. But on the comedic side, the jokes are more Larry David than Jerry Seinfeld. In fact if Curb Your Enthusiasm was a darker show filmed in NY, it might be Louie.
While on the topic of awkward it’s a feeling C.K. wears well and it seems there are often deliberate attempts to ratchet it up. From camera angles that are intimately close and at points weird silence. It’s been a long time since silent moments have felt as awkward. Louis C.K. uses them to his advantage and evoke the laughs.
Another big player in the show is the city of New York itself. It serves as the backdrop to all of Louis’ exploits, but it’s not the romanticized New York we often get in film. It’s the dirty street version of the city, what the city looks like to the average inhabitant on a overcast day. This point is best put across in the show’s opening intro which features Louis emerging from the subway, walking down a non-descript NYC street at night, grabbing a slice of pizza at any of the pizza joints that litter the city…ending up at The Comedy Cellar while the song “Brother Louie,” a 1972 song story about a torrid interracial love affair, plays to the credits. Since the actual street is the actual walk from the West 4th Subway to the Cellar, it’s a series of rituals C.K. has done thousands of times in his life.
C.K. also incorporates a lot of his fellow comedians into the show. Hell, just the first two episodes we saw appearances by Big Jay Oakerson, Jim Norton, (who also stared in Lucky Louie), Eddie Brill, Rick Crom, Hannibal Buress, Nick DiPaolo, and Robert Kelly. Many of these comedians appeared in a poker scene that seemed so natural with brothers in humor that you get the impression these poker games have always existed but at some point someone just decided to film it. A quick glance at the credits and you also notice comedian/human beatbox Reggie Watts also contributed to the show’s original music score. Appearances like these make Louie a potential lethal vessel to introduce some more worthy comedic talent to bigger audiences.
The bottom line is Louie is a breath of fresh air, in look, style, and just downright humor. Props go to FX for taking the risk on another left of center comedy (see It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia) and netting themselves another TV show worth watching.