5. “God,” Louie
One of the reasons the superlative in the title of this post is “memorable” and not “best” is to make room for episodes like “God.” It wasn’t the funniest episode of the first season of Louie—and it wasn’t even necessarily my favorite—but it was certainly the most distinct and memorable episode of a show that was consistently original. I remember watching the scene in which the creepy, nameless doctor tells a young Louie to stab Jesus Christ in the wrist and thinking, “It’s very unusual that this is on television.” The dark humor, the nuanced take on religion, and the controversial point of view are all things rarely seen on TV, and yet they were precisely the kinds of things that made Louie such an innovative and enjoyable show. Continue reading »
As most dedicated Seinfeld fans know, the initial concept for what would become one of the best live-action sitcoms of all-time was an exploration of how comics get their material. The pilot episode was edited such that the action cut back and forth between Jerry’s life and Jerry on stage. And while the next few episodes maintained this format, the stand-up segments of the show were gradually scaled back, soon only appearing at the beginning and end of every episode, then only the beginning, and by the end of the show’s run not at all. By that point, of course, the show had evolved into the “show about nothing”—as opposed to a study of the life of a comic—that we all know and love.
Last night’s premiere of Louie on FX, though, is almost a look at what that initial concept could have looked like. Whereas Seinfeld quickly abandoned the stand-up conceit in favor a more general sitcom formula—with secondary characters and sets and cohesive plots—Louie’s first two episodes show no traces of those things. Instead we see C.K. play a man named “Louis C.K.” who, like the real C.K., is divorced with two kids who attend public school, lives in New York City, and works as a stand-up comedian. We see him on stage performing, and then we see little short films or vignettes that flesh out the ideas he talks about on stage. In some ways, it’s kind of like that old Comedy Central show Pulp Comics, except not awful. Continue reading »