[Just For Laughs 2011] Louis C.K.
Louis C.K. has a reputation for being a “comic’s comic”. His take-no-prisoners, foul-mouthed and darkly absurdist style is favoured among a generation of younger, YouTube-era comics, who name-drop him alongside boundary-breaking legends like Bill Hicks and George Carlin. But most normal Aussies will be asking: who the hell is this bald, middle aged ranga with the goatee headlining Just For Laughs?
43-year-old Louis C.K. (original surname Szekely) is an American comedian who knows struggle and rejection. Having done stand up since he was twenty, he spent most of the ‘90s writing jokes for other comedians – including stints on Late Show with David Letterman, Late Night with Conan O’Brien, and the short-lived Chris Rock and Dana Carvey shows. A brief foray into movies saw him collaborating with Rock on the screenplays for two of his mediocre vanity projects, as well as writing and directing the cult blaxploitation parody Pootie Tang. Moving back into TV in 2006 he landed his own traditional-style HBO sitcom, Lucky Louie, which was cancelled after just one season.
But through all this failure, Louis kept doing what he loved – stand up – eventually landing a series of acclaimed HBO specials. His over-the-top, self-deprecating rants about race, sex, parenthood and 21st century annoyances (see the YouTube clip ‘Everything’s Amazing and Nobody’s Happy’) strike a raw nerve with anyone who has ever been stuck on the tarmac of an airport or fanaticised about murdering a loudmouth in line at the post office.
Strangely, it seems like it was his 2008 divorce that finally propelled Louis into the upper stratosphere of fame as a comedian. The experience of being a newly-single New York dad provided the misanthropic smartarse with a degree of pathos not previously seen, and also inspired the premise of his acclaimed, high-rating FX sitcom Louie (currently in its second season), over which he claims almost all creative control (even editing it himself on his laptop).
I saw Louis C.K. do a midnight show in Toronto in December 2009 and I walked out thinking it was the funniest stand up show I’d ever seen in my life. His down-to-earth, swear-filled, anti-American-idiot tirades are a big hit in Canada, where he plays to some of his largest crowds; no doubt he will find a similarly huge and devoted audience when he makes his Australian debut next month.
Where: Concert Hall, Sydney Opera House
When: Sunday September 4, 7pm