Thursday, June 23, 2011

Film Yap: Louie Season One

Once a comedian becomes successful at stand-up, what’s the next step? Often times they become Hollywood actors headlining a variety of wacky films. If you’re “safe” enough, they could become sitcom stars. It worked for Tim Allen, Ray Romano, and Jerry Seinfeld to great effect.

Louis C.K. is not exactly like those guys. He’s vulgar, occasionally depressing, sexual, but also completely brilliant. He’s evolved into one of the most beloved stand-up comedians, especially from other comedians. He tried his hand as his own twisted sitcom with the HBO show “Lucky Louie” which was an attempt to juxtapose filthy storylines with a traditional three-camera set-up. Good idea, but it never worked and was canceled quickly.

Years later, C.K. has moved to FX with the show “Louie.” Much like “Seinfeld” every half hour is intercut from the story and his stand-up at a club. That is where the comparisons stop. “Louie” is one of the most fascinating shows on television because its subject matter has endless possibilities.

C.K. plays a very similar version of himself, a divorced stand-up comedian with two children he has joint custody over. Every episode is whatever C.K. feels like exploring. There is no structure with the series, instead every episode feels like he went out and made one or two short films. Some of them are hilarious like the one where he gets high with “Kicking and Screaming’s” Josh Hamilton or dealing with the hardships of a first date. Clichéd subject matters are reinvigorated through his lens of observation. The pacing is unique and

Or they can be very insightful. There can be long stretches of the show without any laughs and that’s intentional. A dissection of the word “faggot” and Louis’ emasculation from a bully were some of the best scenes of television last year.

It’s because this is purely Louis C.K.’s show. He writes/directs/stars in every episode. He’s challenging how comedy can be used on television while being meaningful and hilarious. I can’t think of another working comedian with this power to take a step back and look at a situation as well as stepping several steps forward into the most intimate of instances.

C.K. does not paint himself in the greatest light throughout the show. He is sympathetic because he is so human. The other sitcoms I alluded to treat the leads as comedic superheroes, but Louie is just a man struggling through. The struggle is refreshing and is what makes this one of the most underrated shows on television right now.

The Blu-Ray also serves as a DVD. It’s a weird box because instead of a leaflet showing the episode titles, it is behind the discs. It is slim on bonus features, but it has what counts. A lot of commentaries with Louis C.K., deleted scenes, and a short episode of “Writer’s Draft” from Fox Movie Channel.

Season: 4.5 Yaps

Extras: 3.5 Yaps

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