Louis CK has long been a comedian’s comedian but sadly he also seems to have become a journalist’s comedian. Name-checked constantly in every comedy nerd blog and incessantly referenced in Guardian articles (usually with an obnoxious “you probably haven’t heard of”) he’s the comedy equivalent of The Wire – something amazing that dickish* people drone on about till you almost actively want to hate it.
Fortunately, last night at his first UK show in about 3 years, CK justified his considerable hype. The O2 is possibly the worst venue for comedy in the country, yet he managed to overcome the space admirably (the only other act I’ve seen look comfortable there is his old pal Chris Rock). I’m sure it would be better seeing him pop in at the Cellar or UCB and work through some material (seeing Daniel Kitson play tiny rooms has resulted in some of the greatest comedy nights of my life), but from the moment the lights dimmed him completely owned the venue and managed to get the whole venue tuned to his wavelength in minutes (via a clever opening act that set the tone perfectly in maybe 60 seconds).
CK is often dubbed an everyman (20 million+ hits on Google), but he’s a gifted writer and amazing surrealist and over the course of 90s minutes tonnes of wonderfully playful ideas are thrown at the crowd. Like Kitson he has a rabelaisian wit and the ability to make the mundane delightful (cried laughing at a bit that was in essence “I like sitting in chairs”). He’s also very, very clever and plays with your expectations with a deft touch that’s impressive. And like his buddy Chris Rock there’s more than a hint of sermon as his set builds to a climax. He’s definitely a leader in the “comedian as philosopher” school of stand up.
I’m a longtime fan of CK’s – from his writing on the Dana Carvey Show, the Chris Rock Show and Pootie Tang, through to his stand-up specials (“I need $10 just to be broke”) and of course his magnificent TV show “Louie”. He’s almost definitely releasing his next special online via his website for $5 so you can enjoy all the same material without the downside of having to be in the O2. Win win.
- I love this remark from the Guardian “Comedians like Louis CK forget standup relies on communication, not bombast and hot dogs…”. He’s been doing comedy for over 20 years. I’m pretty sure he knows.