You’ll have to pay up if you want to stream his brand-new hour of stand-up, Sincerely Louis CK.
He announced the offering, charging $7.99, via email on April 4, 2020. He alludes to the global pandemic without mentioning it explicitly in his email (and doesn’t touch it in his special, which he managed to record in the final possible weekend he could have before quarantines went into effect). Even if he does manage to jokingly suggest couples in bad marriages should self-quarantine. That, aged, uh, poorly, rather quickly?
As I wrote in April:
Louis Székely purposely makes it rather difficult for any of us to separate the art from the artist.
Even when he’s making otherwise benign observations about geographic places, religious doctrines, CK wants to challenge our own moral compasses, throwing in one extraneously unnecessarily grotesque tag to test whether we’ll still laugh along. He goes in for nine minutes on, in his best Boston accent, “retahded” people and how our cultural perception has changed since the 1970s.
He either explicitly or implicitly presents multiple opportunities for self-reflection, more often than not choosing not to dive below the surface. In some instances, perhaps, a simple acknowledgement suffices. He can reveal fantasies about being mean in public, or how much he revels in transgressions: “I can’t stop doing it. I just. I like it. I like how it feels.” We can connect the dots ourselves. Or when he confides that his tour went global out of necessity, it’s self-explanatory: “I went to France last year, cause I thought I should leave the nation. Felt like a good idea. Would’ve left the planet if they had another one of those.”
Other times, the implication begs for more.
He jokingly imagines God holding a press conference to clear up so much confusion, yet himself has avoided all press since #MeToo came for him.
He proves truly sincere when discussing his mother’s death in the past year, and how he and his sisters observed her dying wishes. Or how his grandfather was the only member from his father’s side of the family to survive the Holocaust, escaping and finding refuge as a Hungarian Jew in Mexico. Or how he found love again with a Frenchwoman.
And yet. No matter how perverse or personal his comedy has been onstage or onscreen over the years, we’ve never seen his guard drop, never gotten too close to his truth.
So no, this is not Louis CK’s Richard Pryor: Live On The Sunset Strip moment. It’s not happening, no matter how much I or anyone else wanted or wished for it to happen. Then again, I’d wished CK had come out and admitted his flaws when Gawker first exposed him five years before he copped to it, only after the Times got his victims on the record. We may have wanted CK to be one of the all-time greats. I may have wanted that to be true. But the truth is, even as a critic who has interviewed him and other comedians over the past 20 years (disclosure: Louis once even introduced me to his mother at The Comedy Cellar), I have as much control over what a comedian does as I do over how others perceive me. Only so much, and yet not so much.