Josh: This was an incredibly strong episode. The opening scene, which flashes back to Louie acting on a sitcom, reminded me a bit of When the Whistle Blows on Extras, where Andy Millman—like Louie—was getting frustrated by the audience’s enjoyment of trite and seemingly humorless lines and catchphrases. When Louie maintains that his wife (on the sitcom) should leave him (rather than saying “I love you”) when he opens a beer bottle with the kitchen table once again, Louie claims that this change to the scene would be honest and funny. C.K. surely is alluding to what Louie does, but I take exception with Louie maintaining that such a change to the scene would be funny. It’s honest, and there may be a funny line or absurdity included in the scene, but the plot development itself is not funny. This is not a problem: as I explained in the last post, the best aspect of Louie may not be its humor. But it’s worth understanding when humor is making the show great and when something else is doing the work. This episode will be remembered for the Dane Cook scene, in which, interestingly, both Cook and Louie (well, C.K.) come off relatively well.* Cook genuinely comes off as someone who did not intentionally steal Louie’s jokes and Louie comes off as someone legitimately annoyed but understanding of how such copying could have occurred unintentionally. This scene totally blurs the lines between Louie the character and C.K. the writer. Lastly, the best throwaway bit of the episode is in the flashback part where Louie’s baby daughter’s mother (presumably) sticks the baby out the door for Louie to grab when Louie comes to pick her up: humorous and absurd.
*Cook’s personality is so unlikeable that he can never come off well to me, which is why I use the term “relatively.”
John S: As soon as I saw that Dane Cook would be appearing on this episode of Louie I got very excited. The relationship between Cook and C.K. is so fraught with history – and Cook is such a polarizing figure in the comedy world – that just the image of the two of them alone in Cook’s dressing room was loaded with tension. Coincidentally, shortly before I found out about Cook’s guest spot, I was discussing Cook’s career with someone, including the very thing that Cook himself ranted about in this episode: Namely, that all the commercial success and accolades must be, on some level, a little unfulfilling given the visceral hatred (not to mention the lack of respect) Cook engenders in so many of his peers. And honestly, part of me agrees with Cook that he didn’t get a fair shake. Joke-stealing is such a tricky subject that it’s almost never clear cut. The jokes Cook is said to have stolen are examples of concepts that are simply out there: Dane Cook is not Carlos Mencia. He’s not being accused of lifting jokes verbatim or stealing punchlines: He took three general concepts, at least one of which (the “you can name your kids anything” bit) is pretty cliched, if you ask me. At the same time, though, I completely understand C.K.’s perspective: It’s very likely that, at the very least, Cook simply absorbed the material in his path to meteoric success and the cover of Time (though, as Louie is quick to remind him, it was just the corner – not like when the President is on Time). Meanwhile, C.K., or at least the Louie of the show (who seems much less successful than the real C.K.), is trying to balance his creativity with his desire to provide for his family (as the first vignette showed), and he sees another comic having such success with his material. So the scene with the two of them was incredibly fair to both perspectives, and was a very honest and straightforward discussion of something that is very rarely discussed honestly or straightforwardly. Of course, making this scene even better was that it was sandwiched between two very sweet scenes between Louie and his daughter. In addition to fleshing out the portrait of Louie as a father, these scenes made the motivation for Louie to go on hands and knees to a comedy nemesis all the more real.