Sunday, September 23, 2012

Louie S4 E12

the great David Lynch and the great Louis CK, if only Werner Herzog
were in there too I'd be in some kind of fanboy heaven...
A couple of posts ago I was talking about English comic Stewart Lee who is virtually unknown in America, in this post I'd like to talk about Louis CK who is virtually unknown in the UK and whats interesting about that is the fact that Louis CK is a kind of American Stewart Lee and Stewart Lee is a bit like a British Louis CK. Lee does more politics than CK but both Lee and CK approach comedy with an honesty, intelligence, dryness and patience that other comedians do not. Both Louis CK and Stewart Lee consider stand up comedy to be an artform and an artform that takes a lot of work and practice. Both dislike "hacks" who put forward cheesy old fashioned material that pleases big crowds and both Louis CK and Stewart Lee have seen much of their material ripped off by more successful "hack" comics (Dane Cook in CK's case, innumerable British comics in Lee's case). Both also in the last couple of years have finally had a measure of TV success after decades on the fringes of wider recognition. 
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Louis CK's sitcom Louie which has been running on FX shouldnt really call itself a sitcom at all, its more of a 30 minute drama about a comedian with the occasional laugh thrown in. Dont get me wrong, its good, its very good but its not a barrel of laughs. My better half went to high school with Louis CK and she remembers him as smart and witty but not particularly funny and thats my impression of the show too. More wry than funny. But I like that. People who dont get Stewart Lee make a similar complaint, yes he's clever, but he doesn't deliver the belly laughs. That said the last three episodes of Louie have been the strangest and best of a rather patchy season. Cameos abound in the three episode arc Late Show pts 1,2,3 where Louis CK is offered David Letterman's job by a rather sinister Gary Marshall after a killer appearance on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno. Louie is hounded for the job by Chris Rock and Jerry Seinfeld, warned off by Leno and finally sent for training at a cockamamie "hosting school" run by David Lynch. Lynch is playing a version of the character he created for himself on Twin Peaks and as you'd expect from a Lynch-CK collaboration it is surreal and actually quite brilliant. The arc follows a predictable but enjoyable course: Lynch coaches Louis into becoming an acceptable late night host and with the endorsement of his two daughters Louis delivers a great trial show telling guest Susan Sarandon a very funny (and very common I suspect) story about how Louis processed his first encounter with her when he saw her on The Rocky Horror Picture Show. I wont tell you how the episode turns out but I thought the ending was a perfect showcase of Hollywood duplicity...
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Louie S4, E 10, E11, E12 Grade A