Having received a 'Thanks, but no thanks' from HBO after just a single season of his sitcom Lucky Louis, acerbic comedian Louis C.K. is back punting a new effort, this time on FX, whose programming is about as close to premium cable as network censors will permit. The late-night timeslot, combined with the network's adult-oriented attitude towards programming allows Louis to be blue enough to differentiate himself, while the observational nature of his humor keeps the material easily relatable.

Essentially a hybrid of sitcom and stand-up, Louis is something of a disjointed jumble, flitting back-and-forth between excepts from his live act on-stage and loosely related skits played out seemingly in his real life. Playing a rough-cut version of himself, C.K. opts for a middle-aged sad sack approach, with rough, unkempt facial hair to highlight his swiftly receding hairline, and t-shirts a size too small to accentuate his doughy physique.

While easily digestible in light, twenty-minute snack bites, what becomes immediately apparent watching Louie is that C.K. is a much better stand-up comic (his bread and butter) than he is a comedy writer, and the difference between the two are like night and day. The great thing about stand-up is the spontaneity and the freedom it gives the comedian to be the storyteller. With a good joke you can pretty much go where you like with it – be shocking, be outrageous, go for broke with it – because it's an abstract construct planted into the mind of the audience. A sitcom, which is different than sketch comedy, has to maintain a certain level of believability because it's constrained by boundaries and has definitive presentation.

This is where C.K. falls down. A swift gag about an awful date you had the other night where she asked about your kids and you told her about your daughters infected vagina might work well on stage, but doesn't quite work as a live presentation. Don't get us wrong, there are one or two moments of genius (later on the same date, now horrified, suddenly flees into what was apparently a waiting helicopter and flies off), but as a whole the gags are often too long and drawn out, and a little too acute to really work in this format, and never quite out-there enough to tip over into the realm of full-on surrealism either.

Plus, while his observational stuff might be easy to get a handle on, it's not exactly groundbreaking. Yes, the extended skit where his doctor mercilessly mocks his genitalia ("like a dog has chewed the end off it") might be good for a Ricky Gervais cameo, but it's still little more than a glorified version of 'A guy walks into a doctor's office…'


  • AndyBankin
    AndyBankin on

    This show has gotten exponentially better every episode. I would argue it is now the best comedy on television.

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