02.09.10 9 years ago 15 Comments

(Louis C.K. presents an Award at Sundance: “It’s stupid and irresponsible to see a movie.”)

Louis C.K. premiered Louis C.K.: Hilarious, a comedy concert film at Sundance this year.  Virtually every comedian you asked would tell you that Louis C.K. is one of the top five comics working today, which is why it’s so funny that Reuters/The Hollywood Reporter sent a reviewer who seems genuinely uncomfortable with this whole frivolity, er, thing.  Today, we break down his review:

Practically nothing is off-limits for stand-up comic Louis C.K., from toilet training his kids to Hitler and the Holocaust.

Poop jokes and politics, from a comedian?!?  My stars, I feel faint.

Paunchy, middle-aged, white single dad Louis C.K. (a.k.a. Louis Szekely) doesn’t appear at first to have a whole lot going for him as far as material or delivery…

I expected little from someone with such an unimpressive appearance.  For God’s sake, he wasn’t even wearing a suit!

…but in actuality he’s also a well-known actor, Emmy-nominated TV writer, screenwriter and director. His secret weapon is his willingness to go where other comedians fear to give offense — he simply doesn’t care how provocative he is.

I hadn’t heard of this fellow, as his name hadn’t come up in any of my journalism classes at Northwestern, but after someone mentioned him on NPR, I did some research on microfiche and was surprised to find that he’s quite popular. Not so much in spite of his ribald language, but because of it.  How curious!

In this 2009 show shot at the Pabst Theater in Milwaukee, he riffs on the advantages and pitfalls of divorce, the problems with becoming recently single, auto-eroticism (although his reference is much cruder), the advantages of being gay (even though he’s not), and overweight Americans, among other topics both blue and taboo.

The fellow was making a rather humorous observation about onanism, but was employing non-clinical language of the kind I’m not used to hearing from normal public figures like Stone Phillips or Bryant Gumbel.  At several points I had to use my monogrammed kerchief to sop up the perspiration.

Rude, crude and the antithesis of politically correct, much of the often cutting and cynical comedy is at his own expense, but whenever he gets too brazen C.K. cracks a smile or laughs off the audience’s discomfort in a way that’s disarmingly amusing. “I don’t know why I’m such an a–hole,” C.K. jokes at one point — obviously because it’s funny.

With the first stand-up comedy production to screen at Sundance, the filmmakers had a high bar to clear, but the laughs were consistent and often raucous at the world premiere screening. No doubt a treat for the many fans in the theater, “Louis C.K.: Hilarious” may prove more of an acquired taste for newcomers.

Despite my initial reservations, I nearly found myself swept up in the atmosphere of gaiety.  However, dear reader, this reviewer is first and foremost a Professional News Man, and must maintain the attitude of neutrality at all times.  I can, however, report with absolute certainty, that some viewers may enjoy this film, whilst others may not.

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