Emmys 2011: Making a Case for Louis C.K.


Louie Louis CK Stand Up FX

The Emmys aren’t exactly known for awarding underdogs which is why the fact that Louis CK is even nominated for Lead Actor in a Comedy is a victory in and of itself. But, what if they took it all the way and actually gave that little winged statue to the one man who consistently delivers grade-A, flawless performances in every episode of his self-titled, self-written, self-directed, self-produced FX series? That would be a full-fledged miracle.

There may be one or two episodes of Louie that didn’t completely wow me, but they were still heads and tails above almost every other series out there – and this is coming from someone who loves television and television comedy, especially. He consistently unravels the hard truths of our human existence in such banal, truthful, unfettered ways and the beauty of it all is that while he shows us why we’re all so screwed up, he still manages to make us laugh.

It’s always been a trope of comedy to admit hilarious, humiliating truths, but Louis CK makes it an art.

For those who don’t know Louie, we’re not talking about a show that points everyday oddities and issues the way Jerry Seinfeld’s “What’s up with that?” schtick did so well. Louie  has more of a “life sucks and then you die” approach, and it’s depressing, but dear God it’s consistently true. Even that description doesn’t do the comic’s comic justice. Though he is first and foremost a comedian, Louis CK has a way of approaching these topics in a manner that shows them honestly and thus produces laughter, well, honestly. It’s not to say he doesn’t think these scenes through, because they are meticulously crafted, but his comedy is first and foremost honest, and incredibly hilarious second. It’s as if he’s not even banking on the laughs, he’s just aiming to tell the truth and the laughs come anyway. And that’s because he’s got a lock on a concept that’s easier to accept when you have a guide like Louie: life is terrible, disgusting and short. We may as well accept that and laugh about it.

The FX series is better than the escapism that most television comedies provide; it’s almost a solution or an explanation. While The Office may dazzle us with ridiculous workplace hijinks or 30 Rock may make us chuckle with Jack Donaghy’s overzealous uber-conservatism, Louie grabs us by the shoulders, shoves our face in reality and tickles us until we can’t help but admit that life is screwed up, but it’s damn funny too.

Really, my case is very simple: one man uses 14 22-minute episodes to explain all of that in an artful, entertaining way and he does it flawlessly. If I had it my way, he’d be swimming in Emmys, but I’ll settle for the few he’s nominated for.

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