Many people were curious why Louis C.K. was rushing into a shortened fifth season, opting to go for eight episodes instead of a full season and possibly having a quicker turn around for a sixth season. As Danger noted at the time, any Louie is welcome, but it was something to ponder for a moment or two.
Well, during a recent For Your Consideration Emmy panel for the show, Louis C.K. revealed the real reason season five was shortened to moderator Alan Sepinwall: he got really high. During the panel, which included the revelation that this season’s bathroom episode wasn’t as autobiographical as we’d like to think because Louis is always “45 minutes away from diarrhea,” the comedian revealed that he got high the night before FX head John Landgraf was about to announce a delay to the fifth season.
According to the Hitfix report, Louis C.K. dislike shooting the show in the winter for obvious reasons and wanted to hold off until the fall to shoot. But then he decided to smoke weed and got that surge of inspiration that so many can relate to:
He called Landgraf and asked if he could produce on the original schedule; a frustrated Landgraf told him they had already allocated most of his budget to other shows, and the best they could do was a half-season. So C.K. agreed, Landgraf announced that, and in the sober light of day, C.K. finally read what he had written… and it was gibberish. He didn’t use a single idea or joke from it in making season 5. Don’t do drugs, kids. Or, at least, don’t make big decisions while high.
It’s just like that early Seinfeld episode “The Heart Attack,” where Jerry can’t remember the meaning of the joke that he wrote down. The difference here is the presence of weed and the fact that said joke became the genesis for an entire season of television. Luckily it turned out alright in the end and it was a successful season that was apparently “back to basics”.
Another interesting tidbit from the report, and it’s full of them, is the fact that Louie is shot much like a film, working heavily when its guest stars are available to shoot. So one group of scenes might be shot all at the same time, but will appear across the entire season. Last year’s “long form” season was the example used to highlight this at its most extreme:
Last year’s “Elevator,” for instance, wasn’t designed to fill six episodes, but he liked what he was filming and it eventually took up almost half the season. (When I noted that the six episodes combined, minus commercials, come out to the length of a feature film, C.K. joked that he wouldn’t necessarily pay money to see that movie in a theater.)
I like the free-form jazz of Louis C.K. and how he sort of meshes it all together to create something that works for television. Louie isn’t always my favorite show and it isn’t always gut-busting funny, but you have to have an appreciation for how it has come together over the years. Check out the rest of Sepinwall’s rundown of the panel, including the origins of this season’s nightmarish episode “Untitled.” It’s a lot of good stuff.