Monday, September 17, 2012
Louie - "Late Show Part 2"
In show business there are no friends. Or, that is to say, everyone has an ulterior motive. With so few openings for quality or lucrative projects, and an embarrassment of talent, it's inevitable toes will get stepped on. Confide in a friend on a potentially life-altering opportunity and damned if that friend don't contact his agent to try to get an in for himself.
But I'm jumping the gun. This opportunism-over-friendship theme was but one element—certain to play out in greater detail in the final installment of this trilogy—in a rich episode. More than anything, the middle section of Louie's "Late Show" trilogy was about uncertainty, about being unmoored. There's a lot at risk here. Seinfeld being a front-runner, Louie being offered the position only as a bargaining chip to bring down Jerry's price-tag, the chance that our hapless hero gets the gig is slim to nil.
And Louie's even agreeing to take a shot at the gig has damned him. If he bombs as the "Late Show" host—which is the likeliest scenario—he'll have a stink on him. If he's even remembered afterward, it'll be trivially as the out-of-his-element comic who fucked up the "Late Show". If he succeeds, if he gets the gig, he'll lose his cred. As Jay Leno so poignantly tells him, he'll no longer be hip, he'll no longer be cool. He'll have to engage in the sort of blandly inoffensive topical humor that middle America falls asleep to. He'll have success at the expense of credibility.
So afraid is Louie of fucking this up that he arranges a meeting with his ex-wife hoping that she'll tell him not to do it. He's afraid to take the chance, but he's too much of an emotional child to actually take responsibility for the decision at hand. For his own sake, she doesn't give him a life raft; she doesn't give him an out. He has to take the opportunity.
And so, untethered to both the career-making emotional high of the inciting incident of Part 1 and the conclusion to come in part 3, this middle episode leaves us adrift in terrifying uncertainty. It is a middle episode in the best possible way. And who better to represent the confusion, the uncertainty of Louie's situation than the master of strange: David Lynch. Oh how happy I was to see Lynch guest star in this episode. Louie has been lousy with respectable, talented guest performers but this performance probably left me the giddiest.
Yeah, I've kind of got a hard on for the work of Lynch; so it was great to see that Louis employed not only lynch the performer, but also some of the man's techniques. Just as Lynch the director rarely gives his audiences a life-raft, purposefully obfuscating the seemingly mundane, so does Lynch's character keep Louie on his toes. When engaging in the seemingly simple task of testing Louie's chops as a talk show host, Lynch (yeah, his character has a name, but I'll keep referring to him as Lynch) never bothers to explain to Louie what it is he's meant to do. And so, though reading a cue-card would seem a no-brainer, here it is a confusing ordeal.
I've gotta say yet again, that though many of the issues Louie as a series, and this episode in particular, deal with are endemic to show business generally and stand-up specifically, the Lynch material felt weirdly universal. How many times have you, after all, gone into training for a new job only to be left flummoxed by the impatient superior training you in the ways of, say, proper TPS Report procedure. This job is so second nature to him by this point that he glides past all the important details he takes for granted, but which you are foreign to. And it was this feeling more than anything that "Late Show Part 2" left us with. Will Louie succeed? Who the fuck knows.
I love the Lynchian sound design during the close-up of Lynch rubbing his ear.
The non sequiturs in these story-heavy episodes can be hit or miss, but I loved the scene of Louie shopping with his daughters. This was yet another instance of Louie stuck in a bad situation where, though he would like to teach his daughters an important lesson (stealing is bad), doing so would actually harm someone (and old poor woman who needs to steal to eat). So what does he do? Try to ignore the situation. Despite his best efforts to pull his daughters away, though, Jane turns snitch, dropping a dime on the poor woman. I love Louie's reaction when Jane beams, "I did good, didn’t I?" What's he to say in a situation like that?
Awesome, Senator Clay Davis.
"They’re looking at me as like an option."
"Because you’d be cheaper."
"His show was great but that was a long time ago."
"You’ll see them a lot less, but that’s because you’ll have a job."
"I have a job."
"Listen, you’ve been a fine father, but nobody needs a father that much. Listen, the girls need a role model. They need to see you live and succeed."
"Sent here? What are you, a letter? Nobody sent you."
"Forgot to say we’ll be right back."
"Comedy is about timing."
"Yeah, I know you’re not supposed to tell but I know everything."
"Yeah, you know, you’re the hip guy; you’re the cool guy—that used to be me. Then you gotta do fourteen minutes every night. Nobody is hip. Every single night. I wish someone had told me that."
"I hope you get it, and if you get it, it’s the last time we’ll talk as friends."
"Can I have some today jokes?"
"You’re not ready."