This is a story that’s several years old and has never been directly addressed on Louis CK’s sitcom, Louie, so outside of comedy-nerd circles and Opie and Anthony listeners, it’s not THAT widely known (although, the accusation does appear on Wikipedia), so here’s a history lesson in comedy feuds. The gist of it is this: Louis C.K. doesn’t like Denis Leary because Leary ripped him off in a major way several years ago.
You can listen to the entire story below (and Leary’s response to the accusation in the second video), but here’s the short version: Way back in Louis C.K.’s early days, he used to do an “I’m an asshole bit,” where he posited that it’d be liberating if we just admitted that we were assholes and acted accordingly. He performed that bit during a comedy show that Leary hosted, and after Louis CK went on, Leary acknowledged the bit and began expanding on it. He didn’t stop there, however. He made the bit his own, used it in other performances, and eventually turned it into a song that actually became something of a minor comedy album hit. The thing is, after that initial appearance, he never acknowledged that it was originally Louis CK’s bit again.
Years later, Denis Leary did give Louis CK $10,000 for a movie he was working on (Tomorrow Night, which was finally released earlier this year), which Louis suggested was guilt money for stealing his joke.
After Louis revealed all of this on the Opie and Anthony Show, Leary appeared on the same radio program later and addressed those accusations, poorly in my opinion. Leary basically said, “How could I have stolen that bit? I co-wrote the song with Chris Phillips?” That’s a pretty lousy defense, although Denis Leary also tried to turn Louis CK’s guilt money accusation into a guilt trip of his own, saying, “Oh by the way, Louis, the money I gave you to make that movie was not guilt money. I had no idea you thought I stole your material. I actually believed in you as a filmmaker. Period.”
Anyway, it’s an enlightening look back at a feud I never knew existed.
Here’s the interview in which Louis CK makes the accusation.
Here’s Denis Leary’s defense.