Written by Isabella Roy
“Go ahead, do the lights.”
A black screen accompanied by a round of applause exits my 6-year-old laptop and for a moment, I forget that I’m curled up in my bed and feel the energy of what is to come next.
A giant bald man with a red beard, red freckles and red, faded lips appears on my screen. He smiles to himself at the sound of the crowd cheering, just for him. He reaches in and hugs the announcer. He’s dressed in a suit and I hardly recognize him. It is not until he enters the stage from the far left, with a confident stride, reaching his long, thick arm for the microphone do I even recognize him.
Earlier this month, Louis C.K.’s seventh one-hour comedy special was released on Netflix, where he proved that not only is he still on the top of his game, but he remains the King of Stand-up Comedy.
Unlike the other major comedians that have accompanied him this month on Netflix, or even this year, including Dave Chappelle, Kevin Hart, Amy Schumer and Bill Burr, Louis stands alone, victorious.
There are very few comedians that can make an audience laugh about suicide, ISIS, the transgender community or abortion. But Louie can, somehow without offending anyone or undergoing comic persecution. Because, out of all of the different acts we have seen in the past decade, C.K. remains the one successful comedian who constantly defies the statement, “There’s nothing funny about _________________.”
And how could he not be? Louie has had 31 years to craft and perfect his individual style and for half of that time, he has been undefeated.
And even so, hardcore or even fair-weather C.K. fans can tell that there’s something different about this win.
It’s mature, it’s aged, it’s smart and it’s unnervingly hilarious.
Nothing about C.K.’s performance or success is coincidental. He has always been incredibly cautious and ahead of the game in his comedy and that shows. Nothing is a mistake and nothing is left up to chance. Louie understands what makes us, regular people, laugh because he spends most of his days as a regular person. He may be a millionaire, he may be a celebrity, he may have a way better job than most of us will ever have, but he’s still the New England, pasty, red-haired tubby kid who got made fun of on a daily basis. So he reaches out a hand to us and we find him accessible enough to reach back.
But even with Louie’s cleaned up look, this special is dirtier than ever. More yelling, more repulsive subjects discussed and more truth discovered.
Besides the crass, people may notice that Louie’s audience, for the most part, has completely disappeared. Now, Louie has been selling out most of his venues for almost a decade now, and he used to show that off, but in this special, he has chosen to black them out so you cannot see the 2,500+ people he’s performing for.
Because at this point in Louie’s career, he has nothing to prove.
Even in Dave Chappelle’s two comedy specials released earlier this year, the camera frequently pans over the crowd. And without hardly mentioning the fact that I feel I’ve seen more of Kevin Hart’s audience than Kevin Hart himself in “What now?” I’d say that audience panning is a staple in most comedy specials that C.K. has chosen to ignore.
The one and only critique of C.K.’s new special is that he does not mention that orange creature that looms so large over the United States right now.
Critics should keep in mind that Louie has never been a political comedian. Nor has he ever been a comedian who went for easy jokes. And believe me, Donald Trump is a joke in himself, Louis does not need to glorify any of his antics.
And if your only issue is that C.K. did not make a joke about something, instead of his infuriating hilarious jokes on the unimportance of life, hanging testicles, trans people or his long spiel about Christians being the dominant religion, I’d say he’s in the lead.
One hour, fourteen minutes and twenty-five seconds later, the giant completes two bows, three waves and one salute before exiting stage left. The camera finally pans over a blood-shot crowd, as the man of the hour makes his way back to the stage to begin an encore we do not get to see.