Did you watch? Look, if you aren’t watching Louie on FX every Thursday night then you’re a person who doesn’t like TV. That’s fine for you. Some of my best friends don’t like TV. The rest of us, however, get this showwhich, as I’ve tiringly blogged before, is the most honest sitcom on TV now. It’s like the opposite of 30 Rockso fanciful and filled with hyperboleand but just as good.
Like in this week’s episode, where Louis, needing to score Gaga tickets for his daughter, finds himself backstage with Gaga’s friend Dane Cook before one of the latter’s shows. Standup nerds know this to be an encounter as butt-clenchingly tense as the one Louis had with the teen bully last season. For years now there’s been this accusation that Cook stole three of CK’s jokes in his Retaliation album (details here), and rather than write around this tension (or, say, cast someone else), Louis CK opted to write directly into it.
In every way Dane Cook (or, well, his character) had the upper hand. Louis needed the tickets and was all hat-in-hand and apologetic. (Is there any other face in television right now that falls so beautifully into a penitent crumble? It’s like he gets like literally crestfallen.) But that was all in-scene. In “real life,” of course, Louis CK wrote the scene, directed it, cast Cook, gave him this total boost in standup street-cred.
It’s something new, I think. Louis gets compared a lot to Seinfeld and Curb Your Enthusiasm, but in this way is it different. CK is both downtrodden character on-screen and total auteur off-. (FX has reportedly given him carte blanche for each episode.) This is similar to Larry David’s relationship to his showhe writes the script outline for each episodebut whereas “Larry David” is an adorable rapscallion, “Louis CK” is sad weirdo whose tired bewilderment at the world he lives in comes off as strangely heroic.
More evidence of this can be seen in this week’s episode’s first act: where Louis walks off the set of some sitcom (“Oh Louie!”) he’s been cast in, after this dialogue exchange:
Louis walks in and cracks open a beer bottle on the edge of the wooden kitchen table.
Wife walks in.
Wife: Louie, did you open that beer bottle on the table again?
Wife: Are you lying?
Wife: Oh Louie, I love you.
Louie: Why would you say that?
Is this whole blog entry leading up to the banal realization that he says what we’re all thinking? No. It’s more like Louis CK’s found a way to use TV and status (i.e., as a veteran comic’s comic with almost universal respect and admiration) to expose the folly and bullshit behind TV and status. FX: fund a third season now, please.