Louie S03E02: Telling Jokes/Set Up; S03E03: Miami

So Louis C.K. You’ll remember of course that I kinda rhapsodised about the guy last time I wrote about his TV show, when his plainest qualities were an entrepreneurial spirit that favours the audience over the distributor, or even the creator. Since then, and since the whole Danny Tosh thing and that pretty disgusting circling of the wagons manoeuvre performed by the American Male Comic Collective (C.K. included) when he was criticised, I’ve had to rethink that position. Even though C.K.’s defence was pretty non-committal compared to the over-defensive brattisms coming from other performers, it was kinda disappointing that he felt the need to do it publicly. Whatever. It’s pretty hard not to be disappointed by your heroes, but I just wish there’d been a little more time for our heromoon, and at the very least we live in an age when it’s much easier to tell who is a douche and to call them out on that douchery. NEWSFLASH: PEOPLE CAN BE DISAPPOINTING. ANYWAY.

UPDATE: TURNS OUT C.K. was on holiday and wasn’t aware of what was going on regards Danny Tosh, as he clarified on The Daily Show yesterday. So happy days are back again. Phew.

The last two episodes of Louie, even seen in the light of our new, grown-up post-Tosh world, are still pretty charming, and absolutely give some of the weirdest laughs on television right now. As always, “Telling Jokes/Set Up” is pretty much just two extended skits, but this episode the first one knocked it right out of the park. The situation is absurdly simple, featuring Louis and his two daughters at the dinner table exchanging jokes. It’s just beautifully observed and has plenty to say about comedy as a thing that happens in/to your life.  Even better, there’s some real love that goes into C.K.’s stand up skit where he shares one of these jokes with the audience. He is delighted with this joke, and he’s right, it’s great.

The second half features a pretty drawn out segment where Louie is set up with a truck company owner (played by Treme’s Melissa Leo, awesomely) by his comedian friend and his wife. The upshot is that they end up drinking together, having a great time, then parking her truck in a quiet garage and giving him a blow job. Then she asks him to return the favour and he refuses, saying that it would make things ‘too intimate’. Yeah, that face is the same face she makes. Then she punches him in the head and shoves her crotch in his face. Once things have quietened down she says ‘So you wanna do this again?’ ‘Oh, yeah, sure,’ he says, firmly. Some other folks on the internet have pointed out how it’s kind of role reversal territory with an aggressive woman, but it never really feels that way. It’s a nuanced little scene that has been given enough set-up for all the dynamic bits to work without drawing attention to themselves, and my goodness it delivers a chuckle or two.


Thursday’s episode, “Miami”, is not a classic. The story covers the whole episode but could easily have been wrapped up in half the time, or had a whole bunch more ideas pushed into it. Louie is in town for a show, and after spending six or seven minutes pointing out that Miami is full of attractive young people, and boy does Louie/Louie have a look at them, he gets saved from drowning by a Cuban-American named Ramon. They bond over Louie’s Mexican heritage, Ramon takes him on a little Rum Diaries-ian tour of the Cuban quarter of the city and points out how close the rich people are to the parties and the cigars and the roosters running loose in the streets without ever experiencing it.

Louie’s moved by his kindness, and after realising what a great time he’s had calls his ex-wife to ask if he can stay an extra couple days. She, correctly, guesses that he has ‘met someone’, and Louie realises this is totally true. The next day he goes swimming with Ramon and asks him to get a drink. There follows one of the neatest set-pieces of the season, as both he and Ramon spend a good four minutes finding it impossible to say: “I’m not attracted to you sexually, I just enjoy spending time with you.” It’s a little sad but probably doesn’t bear a second viewing.

So the math whizzes will have figured out that about  half of this 20-minute episode is filler. The closing stand-up skit is a pretty regulation bemoaning of heterosexual men’s fear of being misread, and the limitations it places on their behaviour. On the one hand it’s definitely sending up that insecurity, but it also has tinges of privilege and unsubtle homophobia. If the episode had have explored the grey areas between friendship and love more thoughtfully, maybe even more explicitly, the final skit could have really packed a punch. Louie and Ramon’s failed conversation is maybe a little too much like the comic trope of ‘oh what you thought I was gay? Jeeeez‘ to really give the episode the energy and edge it usually has. Without it, it kinda looks like Louis C.K. just went on holiday for a bit.

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