Monday, May 11, 2015

Reviews Louie

Let me be frank upfront: In general, I do not find Louis CK funny. I do not care for his stand-up and although I enjoy his TV show, Louie, it rarely makes me laugh. It has nothing to do with liking or disliking Louis CK as a celebrity or going against the mainstream - it simply isn't funny. Like most fans, I was impressed with early episodes which veered off the formulaic sit-com path so well, so often, that many questioned if it was a sit-com at all. But Louie is a comedy, and an unfunny comedy isn't progressive or any sort of "game-changer," it's just unfunny.

To be even more candid, I am also fed-up with the "lovable loser" in entertainment - from Michael Bluth to Larry David to Todd Margaret to almost every role Seth Rogen and Ben Stiller have ever played, ad infinitum - and I am tired of the hype which surrounds Louis CK and everything he does. But while those factors certainly played a part in forming my opinion, they are not the basis of it.

Flatly put: Being unfunny is really the only "crime" in comedy and I find Louis' act unfunny.


If you haven't seen the latest season available for streaming (season 4), the overwhelming majority of it is spent doting on Louie's loser-in-love life. To wit, he enters a relationship with a woman who cannot speak English. One might think that hilarity ensues but CK apparently finds mining that situation for comedy beneath him because there's hardly a laugh to be had except for fans of bumbling manchildren and long, awkward pauses. And that sums up the show: No matter how much comedic opportunity is established, the comedy itself never arrives - unless you count continually dumping on the lovable loser lead as funny. I haven't seen Game of Thrones yet but I understand this is similar to the dragons on that show.

There's a lot of resentment toward jokes and punchlines amongst some comedians and I think Louis CK is of that camp, but sit-coms and standup acts are two different forms requiring different approaches. And even if you refuse to categorize Louie as a situational comedy, it is definitely a comedy, and a comedy without jokes, punchlines, or attempts at making the audience laugh are usually just considered bad. Louie isn't bad, it just isn't funny, and I refuse to jump on the bandwagon and praise an unfunny comedy no matter how much I want to like it or its star.

Louis CK began as a standup comedian but rose to prominence as a comedy writer. He also made short films similar to his TV show episodes - that is to say, they rarely elicited outright laughs but featured fellow comedic actors in humorous situations.
The standup comedian, Louis CK, and the writer/director/filmmaker, Louis CK, seem to be at odds over the direction their TV show should take. And although I'm along for the ride, I have tempered my expectations. Louie is entertaining as often as it is slow and uncomfortable, but it's rarely funny. While unique in its field, it usually plays like the show's writer, director, and star has too much to prove. In fact, several episodes in season 4 are blatant morality plays and even those are played straight instead of for laughs.

I love that CK is not only a standup but a filmmaker and also that he is using his TV show as a platform to tell stories, in general - funny or not - but I do not like the fact that his show eschews comedic opportunities just to buck format conventionality and defy categorization without serving the story.

© The Weirding, 2015

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