For many longtime fans of Louis C.K.‘s stand-up comedy, his appearance in the first of two new Netflix specials, 2017 will first prompt some shock at what they see. Instead of the George Carlin-esque black shirt, jeans and sneakers that populated previous specials like Hilarious and Live at the Beacon Theater, C.K. here dons a two-piece blue suit with a matching tie and button-down shirt. While the jarring wardrobe change will inevitably turn heads, those who’ve been paying attention shouldn’t be too surprised, as C.K. and his comedy have done some growing up.
“I [dressed] like a 10-year-old since I was 10,” C.K. joked during his May 2016 appearance on Conan — while wearing a suit. “That’s how long it took me to catch up to, you know, ‘What am I doing?’ There’s probably a lot of other things I [should’ve started] changing a long time ago. I liked it for a long time, and then all at once I hated it. I hated the last 20 years of looking like a shithead all the time.”
This response to Conan O’Brien’s questions felt raw back then, though it was evidently something C.K. had been thinking about for quite some time. Hence why, when The Tonight Show‘s Jimmy Fallon asked the comedian about the suit almost a year later, C.K.’s answer had evolved into a bit about kids thinking entry into adulthood required a suit. He also spent far less time discussing his appearance. When Fallon brought up his 2017 suit, C.K. acknowledged the comment and quickly moved on to other subjects.
As for 2017, C.K. never once mentions what he’s wearing. Both the special and the comic plow right into the routine with little fanfare. Previous specials have lightly peppered the first few minutes with simple introductions — an odd opening act spliced with shots of the dressing room in Live at the Comedy Store, or C.K.’s walk to the venue in Beacon Theater — yet 2017 cuts to the chase with Louis waiting in the wings. He tells a stagehand to raise the lights, asks his opener to announce him, then takes the stage ready to initiate an extended riff on abortion. Less than a minute and a half passes between the opening shot and the first joke, suggesting C.K. isn’t interested in wasting time on matters like what he’s wearing.