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?


seana said...

Hey, Brian--I was just thinking how I miss your blog, and here you are with a new post!

I haven't seen this show, but I'll give it a try if I come across it. I think a lot of our tolerance has to do with how successful the show is at getting us to see ourselves in the character even if what we're seeing is somewhat reprehensible. What the Id, would do if allowed free range.

I do wonder if this branch of comedy may have about run it's course, though.

Brian O'Rourke said...

Hey Seana -

First, hope all is well. Second, I think you're onto something there re: the id. That pretty much describes Curb Your Enthusiasm to a T.

With Louie, it's a bit different. Sometimes he's an ass, but just as often, he's treated like crap.

Off-topic but had to post it - Fiona literally just figured out how to crawl forward a few minutes ago. She'd figured out reverse already.

seana said...

Go, Fiona! I have a feeling your dad is going to be chasing after you for a long, long time.

I will check out Louie.

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