Louis C.K. | 10.17.08

live_louis-ck.jpgHis completely unpretentious, sad-sack perspective, his angry cussing and his simple observations on human laziness and the folly of religion made for a great night of sick and thought-provoking comedy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Pageant, St. Louis

I was looking at some old VHS tapes cluttering up my apartment in leaning towers of obsolescence the other day, reading the labels, marveling at canceled TV shows past.

"Ah, yes," I said to my imaginary girlfriend who, if real, would never have permitted the towers of tapes to remain anywhere but the garbage can. "Remember Junkyard Wars [TLC]? John Waters’‘Til Death Do Us Part [Court TV]? TV Funhouse [Comedy Central]? Misty water-colored memories of wasted time, eh, Pamela?" (That is the imaginary girlfriend’s name. This week.)

And then I found a tape with an episode of Lucky Louie (HBO) recorded on it. Sweet river of barely-two-year-old nostalgia, overflow your banks.

Lucky Louie was a fucking great show. It was a boutique project, written (mostly) by and starring Louis C.K., a comedian known for his brazen standup and his talent as a writer for Conan, SNL, The Chris Rock Show, Letterman, etc. Canceled after a single 13-episode season in 2006, Lucky Louie somehow managed to capture all the wicked crudeness and bottom-of-the-barrel misery from C.K.’s stage act and transmute it into a sitcom.

Louie would stick a fork in an entire cake and just start eating, Kirstie Alley-style. He had to contend with a preteen daughter who had no idea her favorite song was all about, um, "pussy." He and his wife constantly fought, and sex was the only thing that made him feel alive. As with All in the Family and Good Times, the Lucky Louie set was barely decorated, to emphasize the spartan, dismal existence of the terminally down-and-out.

The real sadness came when HBO canceled the thing, and left us with a shark-jumping Entourage (Jeremy Piven is angry. We get it.), a second-rate Dr. Katz imitation called Life and Times of Tim, and some other comedic poopiness, I guess.

It was inevitable. Lucky Louie was willfully dismal, like a Bergman film peppered with the freewheeling crudeness of frontal male nudity and the use of the "c-word." Americans don’t do dismal. Crude, fer sure, but not dismal.

Louis C.K. still gets plenty of work. His standup shows you why. As a comedy writer, he’s not done.

He kicked off with a long intro about the inevitability of each of our deaths, ending with "This is a bad way to start a show." Big laughs followed.

He went into "facefucking," and offered a Zen-like summation of the raison d’etre of the dunderheaded "hot chicks" of the world: "I went to the club and I was there."

He discoursed on ingrates who complain about the indignities of air travel:

"It takes five hours to fly from L.A. to N.Y., but it used to take 30 years. Along the way, you would die. Someone would shoot you with an arrow. And somebody would fuck an Indian, and have a baby, and everybody would change religions. Now you go up in a plane, you watch Shrek 3 and take a shit, and you’re there."

His stunning vulgarity has not gone anywhere. He loves to say things like "shitting in my father’s mouth" and "fuck, kill, and eat four retarded Mexicans" just to hear the uneasy, sick laughter from the crowd.

His completely unpretentious, sad-sack perspective, his angry cussing and his simple observations on human laziness and the folly of religion made for a great night of sick and thought-provoking comedy.

After a generous 80-minute routine, he was gifted with a standing ovation, and he did something I’ve never seen a comedian do: an encore. He apologized with a laugh, explaining "that was all my new material," and then he did about ten minutes of older riffs, and said goodnight.

Opener Amir Gollan peddles his nerdish looks with a Steven Wright-ish, pretend-nebbish mien. His act got lukewarm laughs until the end, when he brought down the house with a joke about serving as a caddy for his wife when she selects a vibrator from her collection. | Byron Kerman

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