Louie Returned Last Night, And He’s Still As Strangely Wonderful As I Remember
After almost a 20 month hiatus, Louis C.K. is back on my TV screen. That’s a good thing. ‘Louie’, the comedy, drama, whatever it is you want to call it, returned for season four last night. Like most popular shows, ‘Louie’ is dissected by just about every major website that reviews television shows and pop culture. Grantland. HitFix. Time. Variety. Entertainment Weekly. Name a website and they’ll probably have a ‘Louie’ review up the afternoon before and after the episode airs. There’s a reason for this: ‘Louie’ is breaking ground for a comedy series the same way ‘The Sopranos’ broke ground for a drama back in 1999. There is no other show like ‘Louie’ anywhere on TV. A large reason for that is because there is no other character on TV like Louie, and no other creative mind like C.K. helming a show. C.K. writes, directs, edits, acts and does the music for his show. There may not be an “I” in team, but there is certainly one in ‘Louie’. If your one of those people judging C.K. solely on his stand up act, and you’ve never seen his show, your safe in assuming he is first and foremost a comedian, and you wouldn’t be wrong. He makes people laugh, both on stage and now on the small screen. His stand up act is a big part of his series, as most episodes open with him on stage, laying bare his demented soul so a room full of people so can earn a chuckle. But the show is so much more. It’s awkward, weird, hysterical, gut wrenching, almost all at the same time. C.K. is a master at zeroing in on a societal issue, no matter how small, and showing how stupid it is. During ‘Back’, the first of back to back episodes to begin Season 4 last night, there is a scene with Louie and fellow comedian Todd Barry in a coffee shop. The two of them are drinking coffee, and Louie is explaining how he’s not particulary excited about picking up his kids from school. The back and forth between the two comedians would have been a funny enough scene, but C.K. doesn’t stop there. While the two comedians are conversing, everyone else in the coffee shop is transfixed on their phones. No interpersonal communication, no communication at all. During the conversation, a kid is so preoccupied with his phone that he keeps bumping into Louie in his seat while he’s trying to walk past him. No eye contact, no conversation: it’s as if everything outside of that phone exists in an entirely different universe. This scene in particular is funny, because like most parts of ‘Louie’, they are based on reality. It’s not out of the ordinary to go anywhere nowadays where 99% of the people you see are on their phones. When watching that scene, I couldn’t help but go back to the season 2 episode “Country Drive”. During a drive out to the country to visit a relative, Louie’s daughter complains that she’s bored. Louie’s response, like most aspects of the show, is perfect:
I’m bored’ is a useless thing to say. I mean, you live in a great, big, vast world that you’ve seen none percent of. Even the inside of your own mind is endless; it goes on forever, inwardly, do you understand? The fact that you’re alive is amazing, so you don’t get to say ‘I’m bored.”
I can’t help but think that quote is a summation of the character of Louie and C.K. himself: a guy just making his way through the world, happy to be here but miserable at the humanity he see’s around him, so he relies on his imagination and comedy to keep him going. ‘Louie’ will only be here for six more weeks, as FX has decided to air two episodes every week for a total of episodes. Relish it while it’s here, because we may never see something like it again.