Louis CK, on the rebound

For all the talk about Lucky Louie and how unlucky it was with HBO last year, you need to move on. Louis CK certainly has. He has a DVD out of "Shamless," his one-hour HBO special from January, but he’s developed an even funnier brand-new hour of material since then, slaying the crowd at Jones Beach in June during the Opie & Anthony tour and creating a heck of a lot of buzz in Montreal in July for the Just for Laughs festival. We recently talked about that, and about his upcoming appearance back in New York City this fall for the New York Comedy Festival.

What’s driven you to write an all-new hour so quickly?
“As soon as I’m sure that I’m the best comedian that has ever been…that’s when I’m going to stop writing jokes. Also a lot more people have seen me now. so I have to throw my stuff away."

CK said fans will tolerate listening to his "old jokes," but if they’ve seen it on HBO, they don’t necessarily want to hear it again. But that’s more than OK by him, at least these days.

"It’s really fun after 22 years of doing stand-up. It’s very renewing," he said. "And it’s a good way of taking stock, if I think the new special I did is better than the old one.

On performing for Opie & Anthony fans (an incident in the upper box seats distracted from his set at Jones Beach, with security throwing a fan out and people yelling and applauding from the far reaches): "I know. I got paranoid. Which is not a great state of mind for stand-up comedy. But their crowds are so fun."

On killing in Montreal with all-new material: "Well, that was a big goal for me. I decided at the beginning of the year, I wanted to be ready enough by the summer to show it in a high-pressure situation…It was being billed as my new hour of material. And the other pressure was I needed to sell out Club Soda (the venue). It was good to hit the new shows. And then I’ve got the New York festival, and then I’m going to shoot this thing as a special…The last special that I did (Shameless) came out, I shot it two months after we got canceled in September, and shot it in November."

Did that make it even more important to you to show the industry in Montreal that you could come back from Lucky Louie?
"I definitely want to stay alive for people. Losing Lucky Louie didn’t beat me. If you go back to the fact that I got it, it was a huge asset to my life. People take it as a death. It would be like if you were Muhammad Ali, and you only counted the times when he lost his belts, not when he won them. When you achieve something, you’re lucky to get something. You can’t just hold onto s— until you’re dead…I’ve got two kids. I’ve got to take care of them. No show? Too bad, your kid has to go to the dentist. Life keeps moving. I was already excited about doing stand-up again. I was already on the road working on ‘Shameless.’"

Will you attempt another TV show?
"I’m definitely going to do something else. I’ve got a bunch of stuff that I’m doing now, but definitely I’l be back."

Any lessons learned from Lucky Louie?
"I don’t know. I basically learned everything. I wrote a show. Wrote a pilot. Got it greenlit. Ordered sets and ran a show for 12 episodes. That’s all a huge learning curve."

"I also shot a couple of movies this year. I was in that movie with Martin Lawrence called The Better Man, and I was in a movie with Matthew Broderick and Alan Alda, called Diminished Capacity." Both roles, he said, have him as "the second or third guy" in the cast. In the movie with Lawrence, "he plays a talk-show host bigwig star, and I’m his producer and partner." In the movie with Broderick, CK plays "the same loud sweaty idiot — that used to be my thing."

CK is touring the country this summer. He returns to the area Aug. 25 with the O&A tour at the PNC Bank Center in Holmdel, NJ, has dates in the fall in New York and New Jersey, and plays New York City’s Town Hall on Nov. 8 as part of the New York Comedy Festival. "That’s my first time playing a theater on my own in New York City," he said.

Sean L. McCarthy

Editor and publisher since 2007, when he was named New York's Funniest Reporter. Former newspaper reporter at the New York Daily News, Boston Herald and smaller dailies and community papers across America. Loves comedy so much he founded this site.

View all posts by Sean L. McCarthy →