Louis CK, at Town Hall

Back in August, I said that Louis CK had developed an even funnier hour of stand-up than he’d displayed in his most recent HBO special, Shameless. Anyone who saw CK perform Thursday night at Town Hall witnessed it firsthand.

CK told me in August that developing the new hour has been "really fun after 22 years of doing stand-up. It’s very renewing."

The same could be said for his audiences. I’m not sure I can think of another comedian who can open by repeatedly saying three offensive words and then thoughtfully and hilariously explain why he says them. As he points out, any word is only offensive depending upon the person saying it and the person hearing it. And he aptly notes that the media should be considered offensive for its overuse of "the n-word" and manages a callback, too. "It puts the word in my head. Why don’t you say it?! Don’t hide behind the word like an annoying fa&&ot." He then goes on to explain why gay men "should be respected and not judged" because they perform something he could never do and most women don’t want to do, even though it’s a guy’s favorite thing. Some may find CK to be too profane — he does have a 9/11 masturbation joke, after all — but when it comes down to it, this 40-year-old married man with two young daughters has a way of digging deep into the emotional underpinnings of marriage and fatherhood that express an everyman’s frustration with the world. It’s not just about simple observational humor. There’s such an intense honesty to everything he says that you cannot fault him for all of the profanity, and you’ll also find him saying many things that resonate with your own emotional reactions to life. CK has talked before about how annoying young children can be, but in his latest hour, he has mined that for even more laughs, and also has discovered a way to link the damages caused by boys and girls to the future differences between men and women.

CK’s opening act was Ron Lynch, whom CK introduced as one of his oldest friends in comedy. Lynch’s act is classically silly, with idiot-level magic tricks and bits like Mesmerizo that would kill at a kid’s show, but mostly flew past the adults in the Town Hall audience. His closing routine, lip-synching to his own voice as a futuristic robot and hack comic who has to reteach Americans how to laugh, is a great inside joke for comedians and audiences that have seen a lot of comedy.

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.

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