Louis CK has been called the Comedian’s Comedian since his first one-hour special, Shameless, back in 2007. Since then he has demolished old comedy milestones by writing a new one-hour act each year, while simultaneously running a successful website/web series, as well as producing his own sitcom-style television show, Louie.
And before I go further with this review, a warning: Louis CK does adult oriented material, and his jokes are very NSFW or children. Like this…
So if you came into this review thinking it was going to end with any high morals or lofty notions, please abolish the thought.
The first and most shocking thing you may notice while watching Louie on Netflix is the realistic tone. Louie is not a fat man’s Seinfeld. It’s not Friends, where everything reverts to the status quo by the end of the episode. Problems go unresolved. Real issues are looked at in ugly, truthful light. And then, like a narrator bringing focus on the events of the show, Louis CK does a few seconds of stand-up comedy to illuminate the lesson of the day.
The best example of this is an episode from Season 1, Bully, in which Louis CK has his date ruined by a high-schooler who threatens to pound Louie’s face in. It’s an un-funny, unromantic look at how a bully operates. It’s uncomfortable to watch, and will probably make you squirm in your seat or feel a tinge of anger. And his date’s reaction to Louie’s reasonable cowardice is unnervingly honest.
As the episode continues and Louie follows the bully home to confront his parents, he finds (to no-ones surprise) an abusive household. The episode ends with Louie sitting on the front stoop with the father, smoking a cigarette in a shitty neighborhood, having a genuine ‘Well, what can you do?’ sort of conversation. It’s a real moment. And somehow Louis CK makes it funny by breaking it down with his standup.
Never Not Funny
And that’s not to say Louie strikes a hard note with every episode. Most gags involve the sort of daily hardships we face on a regular basis. Louie fights his weight problems, ailing health, and flabby aging body. He tries to raise his two daughters without inadvertently imparting his cynicism on them. And his struggle in the dating world as 40-something divorcee is a nonstop train-wreck of comedy gold.
There’s a fantastic scene in the first episode where Louie’s date, bored to tears and tired of his awkward advances, flees to a waiting helicopter and flies off into the sunset. This perfectly encapsulates the spirit of “that one date” everyone has been on, where everything in the universe conspires to make it as miserable an experience as possible, and escape couldn’t be more a priority than if your were imprisoned in Gitmo.
Age of Humor
I would absolutely recommend Louie to anyone who’s gotten bored with your standard sitcom fare. Louie is the modern man’s view on life. He says what most of us are thinking during those awkward, forced public interactions. To say his take on today’s issues are devoid of a moral compass would be a slight disservice, because what he lacks in classic Catholic values he makes up for in humor and reason.
If you’ve never seen his stand up, please check out Louis CK before you dive into the TV show. It will serve as a good primer for his brand of humor. But either way Louie is a treat, and you can watch the first three seasons now on Netflix.