Louie laughs pass acid test

There’s noth­ing ba­nal about Louis CK’S brand of com­edy, writes

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - TELEVISION -

BILL Mur­ray’s screen ca­reer has been a gold­mine of per­fectly de­liv­ered one-lin­ers over the years, and there’s one in the un­der­rated 1990 com­edy Quick Change that has al­ways stuck with me.

Clad in clown re­galia, Mur­ray’s char­ac­ter is strid­ing through the streets of New York City to­wards a bank just about to close its doors for the day.

When the se­cu­rity guard tries to stop him from en­ter­ing, Mur­ray jams one of his over­sized shoes in the door­way and then pulls out a pis­tol, an­nounc­ing his in­ten­tions to rob the place.

‘‘What kind of clown are you?’’ asks the guard, to which Mur­ray replies ‘‘the cry­ing-on-the-in­side kind, I guess’’.

Maybe you have to see it (and I rec­om­mend you do – Quick Change is very funny). But I was re­minded of that ex­change catch­ing up with Louie, the com­edy se­ries star­ring, writ­ten, di­rected and edited by US stand-up co­me­dian Louie CK.

The sad clown has be­come such a cliche one now ex­pects ev­ery jester to be nurs­ing se­cret pain. But CK doesn’t deal in such pre­dictable ba­nal­i­ties.

He’s the kind of writer and per­former who’s not nec­es­sar­ily out to make you feel com­fort­able, but to give you his bare, un­var­nished take on things (CK even agreed to make Louie on a re­duced bud­get in ex­change for com­plete cre­ative con­trol).

If some­one can do all that and still make you laugh, you know you’ve come across a rare tal­ent. And CK, long viewed by co­me­di­ans as one of the best around while re­main­ing rel­a­tively un­known to the pub­lic, is one such tal­ent.

The sec­ond sea­son of his com­edy se­ries – call­ing it a sit­com just wouldn’t feel right – is now air­ing on ABC2 and if you’ve caught even one or two episodes of the pre­vi­ous sea­son you al­ready know if it’s for you.

Af­ter all, Louie’s take on life, es­pe­cially on CK and his flaws, is mer­ci­less. It’s also hi­lar­i­ously funny.

Like Se­in­feld, Louie features ma­te­rial from the co­me­dian’s stand-up act in­ter­spersed with scenes de­pict­ing the highs and lows of his ev­ery­day life.

But in re­count­ing the mis­ad­ven­tures of a newly di­vorced dad, re­spected but strug­gling co­me­dian and oc­ca­sion­ally be­mused, con­fused hu­man be­ing, Louie of­ten drifts into dark ter­ri­tory more rem­i­nis­cent of the caus­tic Curb Your En­thu­si­asm, cre­ated by Jerry Se­in­feld’s former cre­ative part­ner Larry David.

If any­thing, Louie takes an even more acidic ap­proach to mod­ern life. But rather than come off as mean and mis­an­thropic, the show has an at­ti­tude that suits its hero – who’s puz­zled, but al­ways search­ing for an­swers.

Best of all, it re­alises we’re all in this to­gether. When Louie rips into him­self, he’s not do­ing so out of self-loathing (well, not com­pletely) or be­ing self-dep­re­cat­ing for the sake of a gag (again, not com­pletely), but be­cause re­veal­ing the worst as­pects of him­self is a way of con­nect­ing with the rest of the world.

Of course, com­edy isn’t a one-size-fit­sall thing. What makes one per­son chuckle un­con­trol­lably may leave an­other ut­terly un­a­mused. And the blackly funny tone of Louie is un­likely to re­sult in a Big Bang The­ory- sized smash hit.

But CK is a tremen­dous comic tal­ent – blessed with the kind of tim­ing devel­oped over years on the stand-up cir­cuit, but he’s also fear­less in his rev­e­la­tions and big­hearted in his ob­ser­va­tions.

There’s mean­ing and in­sight in what he’s say­ing. And a lot of laughs as well.

Daily, 9.30pm, ABC2

Comic Louie CK

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