Louis CK is undoubtedly my favourite comedian.
Given today’s talent, that’s quite an accomplishment, as the size of a crowd trying to get on stage can be just as large as the one that’s in the audience. However, there are still a few ways for an individual comedian stand out from the rest.
Most commonly, it’s through their unique delivery, facial expressions, or the relatable nature of the jokes they make — things related to comedy. But how Louie particularly wins me over is through his honesty, rawness, and bravery.
In his self-titled TV series, “Louie”, he plays himself living his actual personal life as a comedian, single parent, and a decent guy just trying to get by and navigate his way through the franticness of New York. And no matter what’s going on or what he’s going through, he manages to be exceptionally funny through all of it.
This concept has sustained three enjoyable seasons. So it was unexpected to find that the latest fourth season of Louie wasn’t as funny — and even more unexpected when I found it to my favourite season yet.
It was because Louie did something, which for a comedian, is definitely different. He changed his winning formula. He fixed what wasn’t broken; he tried being less funny.
There were several episodes presented with little to no humour. I felt that this approach made the show more serious and confronting at times, but also more demanding of my attention and deliberation because it was easier to relate to Louie. As a result, I became more invested and interested in seeing this particular season through.
As I reached the final episode, I felt that, despite being a comedy, the season was surprisingly deeply moving. There were also a few issues brought up, that I’d definitely consider important, if not, life lessons. So if you’re not a Louie fan, here is what you missed:
1) Sex Doesn’t Mean Seriousness
Louie meets Amia, a Hungarian women who’s temporarily visiting the US. She can’t speak English, but through their own methods of communication — chemistry develops. After a few dates, Louie starts to feel strongly about her, but is convinced by others that his feelings are not valid unless they’re having sex. So they do. Rather than bringing them closer, it only creates more distance and confusion.
This plot reminded me of the first time I had sex without any similar pre-established conditions. Particularly about how naive I was at the time — and disappointed afterwards. I thought it meant far more than she did. Actions don’t always speak louder than words, because there are some words that just have to be said. This is what Louie and Amia eventually do through a translator, and the outcome is far more meaningful.
2) Love is Pain
Once Amia leaves, Louie finds himself depressed. He knew the hurt was inevitable. He knew the company wasn’t going to last, but he still wanted it so badly. Why? I know because I was in a similar position earlier this year. Except, I was the one leaving.
As the date of my departure neared, the girl of my interest became less and less willing to spend time with me. Maybe she knew something that I didn’t — or that I just didn’t want to think about — which was the risk of getting attached and therefore, hurt. In his show, Louie is a lonely guy. In real life, I’m that guy too. So speaking for myself, I know how it feels to just want someone’s company — regardless of the conditions, such as that it’s not for long.
When Louie consults the unwelcoming-but-wise doctor that lives in his apartment block, he gets the following advice: “Love is the pain. It’s when you’re apart from someone, and you’re hurting, that you know how truly deeply you really were in love. You know that what you had was real.” The doctor goes on, “You lucky son of a b****, I haven’t had my heart broken in years.” It’s something to think about. It helped Louie, and there’s certainly times, we can all feel as low or lonely.
3) With Parenting, Less can be More
There is one episode where Louie catches his eldest daughter smoking a joint. When she asks about the “big lecture” she is going to get, the extent of his response is, “Just know that I’m here for you.” Relating to my own experiences as a teenager, feeling constantly confronted and criticised definitely doesn’t help a young person understand the things they need to. But knowing that their parents are someone they can just talk to — does.
4) Responsibility is Important
In a flash-back episode, a younger Louie steals $2000 worth of equipment from his school. A younger me did that same amount worth in damage to my own school during a mindless act of vandalism. Like Louie, I also thought I was safely protected by my age. I learned that once you cross “the line” — you aren’t. Sure, age limits expectations, but more importantly, actions still carry consequences.
Being responsible also isn’t just a matter of being caught; it’s owning what you did. The investigation gets dropped but Louie still chooses to confesses to his teacher. It’s clear that decisions like these helped mold Louie’s main character into the respectable adult that he is. This episode is a reminder that being a good person is part of the process of being committed to becoming a better one as we work through our mistakes.
5) Success isn’t about being Special
When Louie finds himself envious of his friend’s recent success and doubting his own abilities, his girlfriend Pamela offers this advice: “None of you guys are special or magical. Some of you are luckier, and some of you work harder than others. But you’re all just guys.” Things don’t get much more truthful than that.
And that’s it.
TV shows make for great escapism and entertainment, but Louie proves that even through a comedy based on another person’s experiences, you can learn things too: about life, and about yourself. Even if you’re not a Louis CK fan, I hope this post encourages you to at least think about what you’re getting out of your favourite show (not to devalue the broadsword training Game of Thrones provides).