Friday, August 31, 2012
Louie - "Late Show Part 1"
One of the many accolades Louie justly receives is that it offers a window into the workaday world of stand up comedy. Many TV shows and films have attempted to document the life of the comic, but few have so unflinchingly exposed the angst, heartbreak, and uncertainty inherent to this particular job. And while I don’t disagree with this assessment, I think the show a bit more universal that that. Indeed, the particular frustrations of the comic are felt by damn near anyone in the creative field.
And so, though the specific worries of Louie (teaching comedy at a community college to support his kids) are inherent to stand up comedy, the feeling is a bit more universal: all creative types want to be relevant. And it’s that feeling this show, at its best moments, captures so well. We creative types enter whatever particular field happens to be of interest to us because we were drawn to it at a young age. We took in the masterful work of folks who were brilliant executors of their craft, and we decided, “Hey, I wanna do that shit.” And then we spent years honing our skills, banging away until we felt confident, until we finally felt, “You know what, I got the hang of this; I found my voice, and I know how to do this shit real good. I’m not yet as good as my idols, but I’m continuing to improve, and I’ll always have their work as a benchmark—I might not ever match their output, but I’ll always get closer.” But then what?
Now comes the hard part: getting people to give a shit about what we do. Though we may get personal satisfaction from a job well done, if no one’s lining up for it, it means fuck all. Satisfaction don’t pay the bills. But, more than that, on a very personal level, we would like to think that we might be good enough, relevant enough, that some young kid just becoming acquainted with pop culture learns of our material and becomes inspired. We would like to be good enough to create a whole new generation of [fill in the artistic endeavor blank]. If we can’t do that, then what worth was any of it?
And yet, in the hilarious stand up routine at show’s open, Louis shows that this is a particularly first world problem to have. While a kid in Afghanistan may discover one morning that his uncle no longer has a head, an American agonizes over deciding among nearly identical Blu-ray players before choosing the best one. And so, though we creative types may agonize over our relevance, what does it matter in the long run? It’s a made-up problem of our own choosing. What I’m saying is, if you’re going to have a problem, this is one you want to have.
Bill Burr was on the Improv’s Marquee at show’s open. I wonder if this is a sign that he might appear on the show in one of the remaining episodes. Oh, if only. If he did show up it would mean that he made appearances on my two favorite current TV shows: Louie and Breaking Bad. If only.
I will never stop finding the sight of child agent Doug dispensing career advice to middle-aged Louie amusing.
I found it odd at first that Louie would worry about getting bumped on the Tonight Show—or that the possibility of him getting bumped even existed—then I remembered this isn’t Louis, but Louie. I sometimes speculate where one begins and the other ends, but it seems that this episode may have been a snapshot of Louis just as he was really taking off.
I know that Louis CK is probably more well known to the country at this point for his appearances on Leno, but I still found it curious that Louie’s sudden meteoric rise came from a viral clip of his appearance on Leno; when, as you know, it was actually an appearance on Conan (his “Everything’s Amazing and Nobody’s Happy” routine) that really turned Louis into a household name. And that’s not to mention that Louis was a writer for Conan back when that show first started. I wonder if there’s bad blood between the two guys?
I loved that Louis skipped right from Louie walking out onto the Tonight Show stage to Louie waking up the next day. I’m almost certain this was an homage to The King of Comedy.
I know that the revelation that Louie pulls in $80,000 a year is meant to show that he is making a merely adequate living, but my only thought was, damn, I’d love to pull in $80,000 a year for the rest of my life. That’s some good money.
Holy shit, Garry Marshall was damn good in this role.
And, yeah, this was a wonderful episode, one of the best of the season so far.
“Only in America do we have this luxury: we get to decide when they find out...kids in Afghanistan don’t—they find out; they find out.”
“They’re all the same machines. They’re all made from the same Asian suffering. There’s no difference.”
“Don’t even have time to jerk off.”
“Do you know who I am?”
“I think five years ago you probably peaked, and now you’re waiting around, wondering if something’s gonna happen before it gets embarrassing. Am I right?”
“In ten years you’re gonna be teaching comedy at a community college to support your kids and falling asleep to the Late Show with Jerry Seinfeld. A circling failure in a rapidly decaying orbit.”