Louis C.K. on the Right to Be Offensive, Why White Guys Should Stop Whining, and Bored Masturbation.
Talking feminism and optimism with the comedian who upended the conventions of TV comedy.
David Marchese writes: When you watch comedy on television these days, especially shows that don’t seem to care if you’re laughing or wincing, there’s a good chance you’re watching something indebted to Louis C.K. As the creator of FX’s Louie, the 48-year-old comedian pioneered the filthy and emotionally fearless, auteur-driven and defiantly non-pandering genre of prestige comedy. But just as his footprint became inescapable, C.K. put his namesake show on hold for Horace and Pete, a ten-part kitchen-sink tragedy he self-financed and surprise-released on his own website in January. Emotionally brutal, and economically self-sufficient, the latter series suggests a new way forward for the comedian. This summer, he’ll lend his voice to the animated movie The Secret Life of Pets, and he’s devoting the next year to touring his stand-up act. “Part of what keeps me going is that I keep learning and trying to figure things out,” he says during one of our long talks — the first at the Hudson Diner in the West Village on May 12, the second on the phone before a gig in Asbury Park, New Jersey, on May 20. “But comedy is something that I’ll never figure out.”
David Marchese: You were in the news for calling Donald Trump Hitler
Louis C.K.: Yeah, yeah. That was a messy thing to do.
Then you said publicly that you regretted sharing that opinion. I found it weird that you seemed uncomfortable with the idea that you’d divulged too much of your own political thinking. You’re a guy who tells jokes about why your 4-year-old daughter is an asshole.
As far as talking about what’s deep in my gut about certain subjects, I’ll put that out there because I know I do that really well, and I’m a unique originator of certain thoughts. Politically I’m not an expert. And also there’s very little rational intake of political thought. People get so upset that they don’t hear what you’re saying. There’s this feeling with people where they’ve got to decide whether an opinion or information is right or wrong. Nobody can eat a whole meal and then digest it and see how they feel the next day. You’ve got a meal in front of you, and you take a piece of lettuce and you go, “Why is there just a piece of lettuce? I’m hungry for more.” “What do you mean? There’s a bunch of other shit on the plate. Take a minute and eat that!” “No. It’s just lettuce, and fuck you, I hate lettuce.” That’s how it is with every conversation now.
So what I hear you saying is that you’re endorsing Donald Trump.
You’re 100 percent right. I’m very pleased with everything he’s done. I don’t know, celebrities saying things politically is obnoxious, because you’ve got a bullhorn that was given to you for one reason and you used that bullhorn for something else. But also I think when there’s somebody as terrible as Trump running, you’re a little bit of a coward by keeping it to yourself if you’re really concerned about it. I felt like I had to raise my hand and be counted because I believe he’s a bigot with a hole in his heart. A guy who shouldn’t be anywhere near the fucking thing is the Republican nominee.
How are you feeling about Hillary and Bernie?
I keep going back and forth. Sometimes I think the system is so deeply fucked up that somebody as disruptive as Bernie — maybe he doesn’t even do a good job as president but he jars something loose in our system and something exciting happens. I mean, Hillary is better at this than any of these people. The American government is a very volatile, dangerous mechanism, and Hillary has the most experience with it. It’s like if you were on a plane and you wanted to choose a pilot. You have one person, Hillary, who says, “Here’s my license. Here’s all the thousands of flights that I’ve flown. Here’s planes I’ve flown in really difficult situations. I’ve had some good flights and some bad flights, but I’ve been flying for a very long time, and I know exactly how this plane works.” Then you’ve got Bernie, who says, “Everyone should get a ride right to their house with this plane.” “Well, how are you going to do that?” “I just think we should. It’s only fair that everyone gets to use the plane equally.” And then Trump says, “I’m going to fly so well. You’re not going to believe how good I’m going to fly this plane, and by the way, Hillary never flew a plane in her life.” “She did, and we have pictures.” “No, she never did it.” It’s insane.
You mentioned in a radio interview how interested you were in this election cycle. What specifically are you finding so interesting?
It’s very emotional. There is a fear of Hillary, you know? I think some of it has to do with Hillary being such a strong candidate and being a woman. The response to her is very male. The other side is very male-oriented. Trump is a man. Well, he’s a boy, and Bernie is an old man. Neither is a feminine person. Obama’s a very feminine person. I don’t mean effeminate.
You mean he’s not macho?
Everybody has both masculine and feminine sides, but Obama is feminine inside. There ain’t no femininity in Trump. There’s none in Bernie. These are both really emphatic guys saying, “We got to do this!” Hillary’s trying to say, “Guys, this is reality. These are complex issues.” And those two are going, “I don’t want to fucking hear it!” It’s weird to watch. It’s like if you had an election in your family. Imagine that when you were a kid there was an election to decide whether Mom or Dad would be in charge for the next four years. Or if some group of siblings got together and said, “We’re going to get this woman to replace Mom.” After the election, imagine how you would feel about each other. It’s terribly, terribly interesting.
You’ve been saying lately that you’ve quit the internet.
I don’t look at any of it now.
I don’t believe you.
Obviously I sell my shit on it: my stand-up tickets, Horace and Pete. I just don’t look at any web pages.
So if you’re not looking on the internet, what do you jack off to? Are you one of those weirdos who buy porn on DVD?
Here’s a weirder option: Take a little longer and try to get your imagination frothed up to where it gets you off. What a strange exercise! I hadn’t done that since 1998. Read the rest of this entry »
The latest from Louis CK, and a rather unique opinion on politics and Trump.
Horace and Pete is a pretty unique show. Funny, dramatic, great cast. I recommend it. Anyway, here’s what Louis wrote below:
Hello there. Your name is “there” isn’t it? Anyway hello. I’m writing, of course, to let you know that Horace and Pete episode 6 is available for streaming and download.
This week begins act two. Our guest star is the terrific Hannah Dunne. I think doing this show is the most fun I’ve ever had.
I’d like to also thank everyone in the rest of the world for supporting the show. The show is selling well in England, France, Germany, Denmark, Australia, India, Israel and more. I wish I had the resources to create a subtitled version of the show in every language but it’s already a challenge to shoot the show and get it up on the site so quickly every week.
Also, as the show is not being advertised and promoted anywhere, please share it with your friends and people you think would like it. Please don’t show it to anyone you think would hate it. Although I do believe a show needs to be hated. It’s part of the life of any show to have some people who devote energy to ripping it apart. It’s healthy. Anyway it continues to be very interesting to watch a show spread and grow strictly on word of mouth. And you are the mouths. I mean your mouths are the mouths that… Make words. So please… Word… About it. The show.
To other mouths. I mean don’t talk into people’s mouths though.
Okay. I’m going back to bed. My kids don’t get here for another hour.
P.S. Please stop it with voting for Trump. It was funny for a little while. But the guy is Hitler. And by that I mean that we are being Germany in the 30s. Do you think they saw the shit coming? Hitler was just some hilarious and refreshing dude with a weird comb over who would say anything at all.
And I’m not advocating for Hillary or Bernie. I like them both but frankly I wish the next president was a conservative only because we had Obama for eight years and we need balance. And not because I particularly enjoy the conservative agenda. I just think the government should reflect the people. And we are about 40 percent conservative and 40 percent liberal. When I was growing up and when I was a younger man, liberals and conservatives were friends with differences. They weren’t enemies. And it always made sense that everyone gets a president they like for a while and then hates the president for a while. But it only works if the conservatives put up a good candidate. A good smart conservative to face the liberal candidate so they can have a good argument and the country can decide which way to go this time.
Trump is not that. He’s an insane bigot. He is dangerous.
He already said he would expand libel laws to sue anyone who “writes a negative hit piece” about him. He says “I would open up the libel laws so we can sue them and win lots of money. Not like now. These guys are totally protected.” He said that. He has promised to decimate the first amendment. (If you think he’s going to keep the second amendment intact you’re delusional.) And he said that Paul Ryan, speaker of the house will “pay” for criticizing him. So I’m saying this now because if he gets in there we won’t be able to criticize him anymore.
Please pick someone else. Like John Kasich. I mean that guy seems okay. I don’t like any of them myself but if you’re that kind of voter please go for a guy like that. It feels like between him and either democrat we’d have a decent choice. It feels like a healthier choice. We shouldn’t have to vote for someone because they’re not a shocking cunt billionaire liar.
We should choose based on what direction the country should go.
I get that all these people sound like bullshit soft criminal opportunists. The whole game feels rigged and it’s not going anywhere but down anymore. I feel that way sometimes.
And that voting for Trump is a way of saying “fuck it. Fuck them all”. I really get it. It’s a version of national Suicide. Or it’s like a big hit off of a crack pipe. Somehow we can’t help it. Or we know that if we vote for Trump our phones will be a reliable source of dopamine for the next four years. I mean I can’t wait to read about Trump every day. It’s a rush. But you have to know this is not healthy.
If you are a true conservative. Don’t vote for Trump. He is not one of you. He is one of him. Everything you have heard him say that you liked, if you look hard enough you will see that he one day said the exact opposite. He is playing you. Read the rest of this entry »
‘Louis CK’s SNL Opening Monologue Was Awesomely Offensive’
In a late-night post involving Louis CK, and Mollie Hemingway, we find ourselves in familiar territory. Testing the limits of good taste, defending freedom of expression, and witnessing fallout from violating powerful social taboos. In the current edition of The Federalist, it’s gratifying to see one of my favorite media writers stand up for one of my favorite comedians. As we see in the video above, Louis CK goes where few comedians would dare to tread.
“It was actually quite disgusting and completely offensive. I can not possibly characterize how tasteless it was. It was also hilarious.”
— Mollie Hemingway
If you’ve ever heard Louis C.K. talk about SNL preparation–as I did recently, listening to a recent radio an interview–you know he seeks out difficult audiences rather than easy ones. He described testing his SNL monologue material in unfavorable environments, on disinterested audiences, intentionally, in order to find weaknesses in the material, and win over tough crowds.
Unlike his usual hip New York audiences, he discovered, SNL audience are comprised mostly of non-New Yorkers. Tourists, regular folks from the heartland. Edgy material he might normally do doesn’t necessarily connect here. After one disappointing performance on SNL, he worked harder at it the next time—testing, calibrating, rehearsing more. And coming better prepared, in his subsequent appearance, he succeeded. (it’s a good interview, if I find the audio clip or transcript of it, I’ll link it) Which is why his recent appearance on SNL surprised me. Because even if the now-infamous controversial material seemed risky, or misguided, you can be sure that the choices made were not arrived at casually.
Likewise for Lorne Michaels. SNL is shot live, the material is vetted in advance. I can’t imagine anything was performed that wasn’t approved. (or at least not disapproved) Knowing Louis C.K.’s work habits (more disciplined than they appear) it’s likely that he rehearsed his monologue for weeks, in front of difficult audiences, in different settings. And then, on live TV, Louis said exactly what he wanted to say. Knowing the risks. Expecting to offend people. But reasonably confident that it was funny.
When asked, in the interview, about his willingness to make people uncomfortable, referring to his frequent run-ins with authority figures in childhood, Louis C.K. said, “I’m used to getting in trouble”. It doesn’t bother him, the experience of being in trouble. He’s often talked about the challenge, and joy, of taking audiences to uneasy places, to explore what’s there, and find what’s funny about it.
To me, this is classic Louis C.K. There’s something about his frankness, sincerity, and delivery, that allows him to get away with things other comics would get crucified for. There’s more here than meets the eye.
The social justice warriors are creating a culture where comedians can’t make most jokes about race, sex, sexual choices, or any of the things that used to be staples of the comedy circuit. One joke in a stand-up set bombs for being over the line and the social media mobs come forth with pitchforks and your career is over or your comedy is seriously proscribed. It’s a free country, though, which means, in these cases, that if a bunch of coddled children can’t handle transgressive comedy without losing their minds, they can make life for a comic a living hell. Just because you’re trying something out in an intimate setting with a particular group of people doesn’t keep them from blasting it on the internet for a global audience that couldn’t possibly understand what you were going for. Comedians such as Chris Rock say it’s just not fun any more….(more)
“It’s a free country, though, which means, in these cases, that if a bunch of coddled children can’t handle transgressive comedy without losing their minds, they can make life for a comic a living hell.”
— Mollie Hemingway
While not exactly endorsing the content of Louis C.K.’s queasy monologue, The Federalist‘s Mollie Hemingway defends it, describing it as “refreshing — and ballsy”, and links to an earlier article discussing the necessity of tolerance. Comedy will suffer if comics are threatened and stop taking risks. Enforcing current PC-orthodoxy with online shaming campaigns, social justice warriors provoke and exploit social media hysteria to keep violators in line. Thus, the idea of Comedy Speakeasies.
The problem with comedy is that people can share what happens in the club with anyone in the world. In the future, when comedy speakeasies are the only way for people to hear transgressive jokes about race and sex, people will have to have the password. But they’ll also have to be patted down for recording equipment. No phones. No audio recorders. No pens and pads. Any recitation of the bits will be fully denied…
In her current column, Mollie continues…
…Louis CK knew he’d be met with social justice warrior outrage — and he was — and he went ahead with the monologue anyway. Not in a speakeasy but on network television. No trigger warnings. No concerns about punching all the way down…
After getting caught imitating his boss (Leslie Jones), a new employee (Louis C.K.) must play off the impression as his real talking voice in order to not get fired.
Jeremy Gerard writes: In the Department Of So-How-Was-The-Play-Mrs. Lincoln?, Louis C.K.’s dive into the empty pool monologue was followed on last night’s season finale of Saturday Night Live with a sketch that had the star going almost one-on-one with Leslie Jones in a street-slanguage slam, as Louis tried to hold on to his job at a Sprint store after being busted while imitating Jones as his mouthy, negatory boss.
“Is that how you think I talk? Is that yo little impression of me?”
— Leslie Jones, busting Louis C.K., who then maintains the ruse
Convincing her that’s the way he really talks, the bit (with nice assists from Jay Pharaoh, Cecily Strong and Aidy Bryant) followed them over five years as he maintains the ruse. Read the rest of this entry »
And mirroring Louie, C.K. will perform triple-duties for the film — writing, directing and starring in the indie I’m a Cop, which is being produced by heavyweight producer Scott Rudin.
“I don’t feel like I need anyone to tell me anything with a TV show because I know exactly what I’m doing, but I’d be arrogant to think that I can take someone’s $8 million and just turn in a movie. Movies are different. There’s a permanency to them.”
Rudin is producing with Dave Becky and Blair Breard, the latter an exec producer on C.K.’s Louie as well as a couple of the comedian’s specials, including the upcoming Louis C.K. Live From the Comedy Store.
“I was dealing with people every day whose pressures I didn’t understand, and I wasn’t very nice about how I said no to them. I put myself in a position I didn’t have to be in. A lot of what makes this kind of stuff work is empathy.”
The script tells of a depressed middle-aged man who is a volunteer police officer living in the shadow of his mother, a highly decorated retired officer. Read the rest of this entry »
Daniel Nussbaum writes: The comedian had long been an ardent (and profane) Tweeter, directing 140-character, expletive-laden barbs at Sarah Palin, ISIS, and Common Core, just to name a few. So it was somewhat surprising when his Twitter account seemed to simply vanish late last year.
“It didn’t make me feel good,” the comedian told host Gregg “Opie” Hughes. “It made me feel bad instead. So I stopped doing it.”
Every time I say anything on here, I wish I hadn’t said it. And then I’ll write a couple things to try to fix it, and then I feel worse. It’s just any time I tweeted anything, I was like, ‘Ugh, I don’t like the way that came out.’ And then four and a half million people saw it. Like it was the worst things I ever said, heard and seen by the most people. It’s like the worst possible scenario.”
“It’s too instant,” the comedian explained, telling Opie that he wasn’t bothered by trolls or criticism. “I don’t think the speed helps dialogue. I think it hurts. I think it’s why everything is kind of f***ed up and polarizing, because people are going too fast, they’re trying to react quickly.” Read the rest of this entry »
Matt Wilstein reports: It’s been close to five years since Louis C.K. got drunk on an airplane and tweeted the foulest things he could think of about Sarah Palin. Since then, he has moved on and deleted his Twitter account, but as the comedian told Howard Stern on Wednesday, it was just two months ago that he finally decided to apologize.
As Louis C.K. told it, Palin actually approached him at the afterparty for Saturday Night Live’s 40th anniversary special to tell him she thought he was “terrific” and “really funny,” though it was unclear if she really knew who he was.
In response, Louis C.K. just said, “I owe you an apology,” telling Stern that he’s never before apologized for anything he’s said and “fuck anybody else who’s offended.” But now that he was face-to-face with Palin, he felt he needed to address the situation.
When he explained to her what he had done, Palin told him, “Well, you’re a vile person,” which made him laugh. Then she invited him to go fishing with her next time he’s in Alaska, which he said he would do in a heartbeat.
Stern and Louis C.K. agreed that Palin is attractive and they both kind of want to “fuck” her. “It would be fun to fuck a conservative politician,” the comedian said, noting that opposites attract for a reason. This conversation led Stern to admit that he also fantasizes about sleeping with Megyn Kelly and Kimberly Guilfoyle from Fox News. Read the rest of this entry »
Louis C.K. Confesses: He Really Did Steal the Scales from His Jr. High School Lab in Massachusetts Many Years AgoPosted: January 18, 2015
The situation became fodder for a flashback storyline in an episode of FX’s “Louie” last year. C.K. told reporters at the Television Critics Assn. press tour that he had always felt bad about the incident because one of his teachers defended him at the time when he denied stealing the science-lab scales.
“This season is more laugh-centric funny than season four…I had a very playful and goofy feeing going into this season.”
And just as it played out in the episode, the school’s principal knew he did it but left him off the hook.
“I sold them for drugs,” he said. “I’d been sitting on this story a long time.” To compound his guilt, the teacher who defended him emailed him recently to say how proud she was of his success. He confessed to her in his response and got an “I’m disappointed in you” reply.
“She was a great teacher,” C.K. said. “I had every advantage when I was a kid. I grew up in Newton, Mass. a nice town. I just got high — my working single mother, I f—– her life up. I was a terrible kid.”
C.K. said that the upcoming fifth season would likely be lighter and funnier than season four, which many critics noted took a darker, more serious turn. Read the rest of this entry »
— Seth Fiegerman (@sfiegerman) January 8, 2015
In the FX TV series Louie, comic Louis C.K. plays a divorced father of two struggling to balance his comedy career with being a single dad. The show, which has just been picked up for a third season, is often based on events that have happened to C.K. in his own life.
C.K.’s boundary-crossing humor has always appealed to other comedians, but in the past year, the stand-up comic has also racked up a series of honors from more mainstream sources. GQ recently called him the “funniest comic alive” and named him their “Comic Genius of the Year.” Rolling Stone said C.K. is currently the “darkest, funniest comedian in America.” And Time called Louie the top show of the year, shortlisting C.K. on the magazine’s list of the most influential people in 2011.
C.K. writes, directs, edits and produces Louie, which has been nominated for several Emmys. He took a similar hands-on approach for his latest comedy special,Live at the Beacon Theater. The hourlong broadcast, filmed in front of a live crowd over two nights in November, was produced with C.K’s own money, edited entirely by him, and then released independently on his website, bypassing network cable and video.
An Unorthodox Way To Release A Comedy Special
C.K. asked his fans to contribute $5 directly to him via PayPal, in exchange for two streams and two downloads of the unencrypted, high-definition show. He explains that he chose the unorthodox method of sharing his special to see if releasing a video himself could potentially make money.
Note: This video contains content some will find offensive.
“I’ve never seen a check from a [TV] comedy special,” he tells Fresh Air’s Terry Gross. “It never ends up being that. … This time, I just thought this might be interesting to give this a try. Put it on my website, make it $5, make it really, really easy for people to enjoy. To make it as close to a viral video as possible, instead of having it on TV.”
BREITBART NEWS reports: Comedian Louis CK writes, directs and stars in his signature FX series Louie. Today, he became a one-person wrecking crew against Common Core State Standards Initiative. Given his reach and influence, it could be a body blow against the movement.
In short, he said Common Core made his kids cry.
My kids used to love math. Now it makes them cry. Thanks standardized testing and common core!
— Louis C.K. (@louisck) April 28, 2014
This is one of my favorites. Also for third graders. Who is writig these? And why? pic.twitter.com/xUBVIxE6WU
— Louis C.K. (@louisck) April 28, 2014
Okay I’m done. This is just one dumb, fat parent’s POV. I’m pissed because I love NYC public schools. mice, lice and all.
— Louis C.K. (@louisck) April 29, 2014