A quick review of last night’s “Louie” coming up just as soon as I try a natural laundry detergent…
“Louie” is on an incredible roll right now, one that makes me wish press tour wasn’t consuming so much of my time(*) that I can’t properly capture the genius of the few weeks.
(*) On the plus side, I ran into Pamela Adlon at the CBS/CW/Showtime party (where she was there as part of the “Californication” cast) the other night, and we talked for a while about last week’s episode, about how good an actor Louis C.K. has become, about how they all feel it’s much funnier if Louie remains sexually frustrated, and also about whether her laughter at Louie’s joke about the soup was spontaneous or planned. (On that one, she said she’d like to leave that as a bit of a mystery for fans to debate among themselves.) Smart, smart lady.
What I do have time to say about “Oh, Louie/Tickets” is how honest and self-reflective it was – though I guess by now, neither of those attributes should come as a surprise. Though there are some multi-segment episodes where the different pieces feel like they were paired together because they happened to add up to 20 minutes, these all felt of a piece. Louie talking himself out of a sitcom job because of his stubborn integrity(**) flowed right into Louie spending most of his stand-up routine analyzing the audience’s reaction to him (and to the phrasing of his tasteless but funny new bit about suicide), and in turn both helped inform Louie’s encounter with Dane Cook.
(**) I never much liked “Lucky Louie,” but at least that show never tried to falsely sentimentalize the marriage at the center of it.
I don’t pay enough attention to the world of stand-up to have known about the C.K./Cook beef before this week, but it’s a credit to both men that they would do this: Cook to let C.K. accuse him of joke-stealing to his face, and C.K. in turn to give Cook a chance to defend himself, and to offer a kinder explanation for the whole thing. When I talked to Adlon the other night, she said that C.K. meticulously controls every piece of this show, almost like a puppeteer or someone building a diorama, so I have no doubt that every beat of that scene was intricately planned. And yet it felt like the show took 10 minutes off to present documentary footage of these two men finally confronting each other about this.
C.K. has said in interviews that there are episodes and scenes that fans find dramatic, but that he views as hilarious. We get a hint of that in his argument with the sitcom producer, when he insists that the “Oh, Louie” wife leaving him would be funny. But he also seems aware of when a more universal joke is called for, and so his encounter with Cook leads neatly into a funny, bittersweet final gag in which the gift in the box is just as much a disappointment as the Sabrina Bubble tickets were.
What did everybody else think?