John S: I am certainly not a fan of Joan Rivers, so when I heard that last week’s episode of Louie would not only feature her, but be titled “Joan,” I was a little nervous. In actuality, though, “Joan” was a very good episode, albeit not a particularly funny one. If Louie has a recurring theme—which isn’t a given, since the show can be so many different things from week to week—it’s that stand-up comedy is really the core of who Louis C.K. is, and that this is not always a good thing. Last season’s finale ended on a poignant note of Louie admitting that comedy, along with fatherhood, is really the only aspect of life he’s good at. And even this episode showed C.K.’s unusual position in the comedy world. While C.K. is generally regarded in the industry as the best stand-up comic working today, he’s not exactly a household name. So even though he can sell out theaters in Chicago, as he tells Sam, his name doesn’t draw a crowd in Atlantic City. And while I don’t particularly like Rivers—the included excerpt of her act was a good example of why—I did like the role she served in this episode. As the elder stateswoman of comedy, she gave Louie the bad news—you don’t pick your audience; you can and probably will be replaced; you can’t piss of Donald Trump—along with the good—that Louie is lucky enough to be working as a stand-up comic, a “calling” reserved for those who get to make people happy.
Josh: I am not a fan of Joan Rivers either, but I was sort of excited to see the show titled “Joan,” largely because I was intrigued about how Emmy-winning actor and writer C.K. would user her in the episode. And it didn’t disappoint: one of the aspects of Louie that I like is its perspective on the comedy business and the comedy community. Consequently, the best part of the episode was the scene that followed Joan inviting Louie up to her room to talk shop. The funniest bit in the episode (and I agree with John that this was not a particularly funny episode) was Louie’s guess of how many blowjobs Joan needed to give to get where she was, with Louie misunderstanding that her point was that she did not need to give any. It was easy to see why Louie would be confused, and quite funny. Louie’s standup again, though, disappointed me: the diarrhea bit was raunchy and disgusting, but not particularly humorous, in my opinion. I may be inconsistent here: I like Louie’s standup best when he’s being honest about a topic—like hating his kids—that is generally thought improper to be honest about. And Louie is doing this with some of his more disgusting toilet or sex jokes as well. Perhaps it’s just not as pleasant to have the reaction of “that’s gross” as opposed to “that’s an interesting insight.”