Sunday, July 30, 2017


          He used to write for Conan O'Brien. He wrote the screenplay for the film Pootie Tang (2001). His stand-up comedy alters lives. He is Louis C.K., the writer/director/producer/editor/star of one of the funniest and most insightful shows ever, "Louie".
          It's not on anymore. It began in 2010 and ended last year. But, just like with William Shakespeare's plays, it's not the freshness that counts, it's the quality. And to be fair, Louis C.K. is much funnier than Shakespeare.
          He plays a fictionalized version of himself. Like Jerry Seinfeld, except much funnier. A divorced comedian living in New York with his two daughters, Louie struggles with the challenges of fatherhood, dating, and advancing his career.
          Always entertaining and frequently sublime, the show doesn't seem like a sitcom. It seems like life. "Horace and Pete", the first show he started writing after "Louie", does seem like a sitcom. Like the difference between a terrarium and a forest. Compared to "Louie", sitcoms seem stagey and controlled.
          He's versatile enough for roles in heavy-hitting movies, such as American Hustle and Trumbo. And as a director he gets terrific performances from his actors. Charles Grodin, Ellen Burstyn, David Lynch--the list of talent is formidable. Also he features great comics--Joan Rivers, Chris Rock, Robin Williams--playing fictionalized versions of themselves.
          Last year, after the show's "extended hiatus", Louis said, "I don't think I have stories for that guy anymore." Bummer? Yes. But the show is so well-written, it's incredible he was able to maintain the level of quality for several seasons.
          Some of the best material involves storylines running several episodes. A few episodes deal with his chance to take over for a retiring David Letterman. Others chiefly concern relationships with women. Whether it's a woman he met at a PTA meeting, or the niece of an elderly woman trapped in an elevator, Louis C.K. writes stellar dialogue. His characters are likable, believable, and memorable.
          Start watching the show and you might have a hard time stopping.          
          Currently available on Netflix.

Stewart Kirby writes for

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