Sunday, August 29, 2010

Louie Louie Louie LOUIE

Louis CK's new show on FX is called Louie. I don't know why it's not spelled Louis. Maybe the reasoning behind the orthography is so that people properly pronounce the guy's name.

On the show, Louie - I mean, Louis - plays Louie...okay this is getting silly and confusing. What I'm saying is that the stand-up comedian plays an enhanced version of himself, warts and all. Though he's a comedian, and though there are some laugh-out-loud moments on the show, you'd have to put a gun to my head for me to call it a comedy.

Please put the revolver away.

What I'm saying is the show's is more a drama. A very dark, unrelentingly bleak drama that comes up for comedic air sporadically, mostly when the show cuts to Louie doing one of his routines. Sometimes, though, it's downright uncomfortable to watch. In one episode, we're treated to a scene where Louie tells his mother how much he can't stand her and doesn't love her. It was an excruciating moment, a little too much to bear for me.

On the whole though, the show is a gem. The comparisons to Seinfeld are inevitable, and in some instances justified: antihero comedian walks the overpopulated yet lonely streets of New York, surrounded by neurotics and weirdos and absurdity. We even cut away to his stand-up routine at various times during every episode.

But. Whereas Seinfeld was about "nothing," Louie is about "everything." Divorce, middle-age, single parenthood, sex, love, and ultimately, meaning in life, or the lack thereof. The show has a way of blind-siding you with how serious it can be. At times, it's even a foray into the surreal, like when a girl Louie is poorly attempting to woo flees to a nearby helicopter and is spirited away.

My only problem with the show, hinted above, is that it's a little too uncomfortable to watch at times. The leitmotif for ground-breaking comedy in recent years has been awkwardness. Larry David pushed the envelope with Curb Your Enthusiasm, and The Office (US version, haven't seen the UK version) spends a lot of its time in the "make the audience cringe" category. But Louie, IMHO, sometimes takes it even further.

Does Louie go too far? Does comedy these days go too far? With horror films, we have a relatively new subgenre derisively referred to as torture porn (think the Saw movies)...has comedy gone down the same path with excruciatingly awkward sit-coms?