Louie laughs pass acid test
There’s nothing banal about Louis CK’S brand of comedy, writes
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