Saturday, April 13, 2013

Louis CK: Oh My God, Indeed

Something not a lot of people know is, I love stand-up comedy. LOVE IT. When I was a teenager, every Sunday night there was a Just for Laughs comedy show on the radio and I never missed it. I'd record them (on cassette tape!) and then play the best bits for my dad while he was doubled over laughing so hard he couldn't breathe. (Something everyone who knows me knows: I'm a laugher. I laugh about everything. And so does my dad and my brother.) While I love going to concerts and movies, going to see a stand-up comic (or watching a stand-up comic on TV) is something that makes me happiest. I'll often leave concerts early because I'm tired, or look at my watch to see when a movie is supposed to end, but when I'm watching stand-up, I hope it never ever ends, and I'm always sad when it does.

I can rattle off stand-up comics and their routines the way other people do musicians and their best material. When I moved to London I discovered there was a radio station devoted to comedy 24/7, and I thought I'd lose my mind with happiness (the station is just okay... it sounds like it's internet-run, it's sloppy and there are long, loooong breaks between routines as if holding space for commercials that just aren't there, and they repeat the same recordings a little too often).

I think Dave Chappelle's Killin' Them Softly, the HBO special he did in 2000, is one of the funniest things I have EVER seen. I watched Eddie Izzard riffing on Protestantism when I was seven months pregnant and laughed until I couldn't breathe, and I still remember fumbling for the remote to just make it stop because I was scared I was going to go into labour right there. I think Steve Martin is a genius (why... WHY does he keep doing such shit movies? Has anyone seen the brilliance of Bowfinger? Please, Steve, please do more like that). I love all kinds: The Blue Collar Comedy Tour, Lenny Bruce, The Dance Party of Newfoundland. When Jerry Seinfeld got his own sitcom, I was the only person I knew who knew exactly who he was, and could recite entire routines by heart.

So yeah. I love my comedy.

Which is why I was crazy excited to watch Louis CK's new stand-up special, premiering tonight on HBO and HBO Canada. Here's the trailer:

And he did not disappoint. Louis CK is one of the best comics out there right now, making people as uncomfortable with his comedy as he can while still making them laugh. In "Oh My God," he begins with his age — 45 — and separates his audience into two parts: Those above 45, and those younger than 40. (Apparently those between 40 and 45 are just fine.) And by first splitting it in half and making both groups squirm, he moves onto other topics, while the audience members, knowing they're on TV, laugh nervously and seem unsure what to do. (While we at home roar with laughter, not caring what others think.) Fair game for Louis CK includes the following:

  • what his It Gets Better ad would look like
  • the porny ending to Steinbeck's Grapes of Wrath
  • how anyone over the age of 45 remembers what a real disgrace a president can be, and what it was like to watch the president wave goodbye and simply walk away from the nation. (His reenactment of watching him fly away in a helicopter is gut-bustingly hilarious.) 
  • why being divorced is amazing
  • the difference between sea lions and seals
  • what the world would be like if murder were legal, or just a misdemeanour
The hour ends with a fantastic bit about the evil voice in his mind that he just can't turn off, even when he knows it's so wrong. As in, he knows that peanut allergies are terrible, and we should all keep peanuts in our house and not take them to schools or public places and should wash all cutlery and make sure we never contaminate anything that could hurt someone with the allergy. But... maybe... and I'll stop there and let him tell you what the voice in his head actually says to him. 

Brilliant, funny, and uncomfortable, Louis CK's Oh My God is an irreverently hilarious hour of TV. 


Cairistiona60 said...

Have you listened to Billy Connolly or Danny Bhoy? Both Scottish and hysterically funny!! I saw Eddie Izzard in Toronto a few years ago and I almost wet myself! His routine on the stoned Olympics is one of the best routines ever!

ashlie said...

I was dying during the divorce bit, if murder was legal, and "Of course, but maybe". I've heard someone say that they found this special to be a bit preachy, but I never got that impression.

Nikki Stafford said...

Cairistiona60: I love both of them! Danny Bhoy is hilarious. I might have been at the same Eddie Izzard show as you: was it at Massey Hall? It was mostly riffing on atheism going back to the beginning of time. Amazing.

Ashlie: I didn't get that impression, either. I think he actually comes off as pretty down-to-earth.

Tom Speelman said...

I've seen his "Chewed Up" and "Hilarious" specials and loved them both, so I'm enormously excited to see "Oh My God." Have you watched his show Louie? Is it as good as the rest of the Internet says?

Also, Craig Ferguson's stand up is very good, if you haven't heard it.