Louis C.K. released his sixth hour-long comedy special yesterday, filmed entirely at LA's iconic Comedy Store. "Live at the Comedy Store" covers pretty much the same content as his recent shows at Madison Square Garden -- although it's available for the much more civilized price of $5 on his website -- and hits on familiar topics like fatherhood, aging and mortality, although with a less overtly personal slant than some of his previous works. While there are no instantly iconic bits (like 2013's "of course … but maybe") it’s still 56 minutes of insightful, lewd, unfiltered Louie goodness. Here's what you can expect to hear:
Aging and mortality:
At 47, Louis is a little softer around the edges now, and as usual, his comedy deals heavily with his awareness of his own mortality. As fans of his FX show well know, the man is great at exploring dark topics in unexpected ways, and his musings on aging continue to layer absurd gags around a profound kernel of truth. As he puts it: “I've let go of any dream of getting in great shape...the level that I want to reach as far as the shape I'm in, I just want it to be so that if you found out that I died, you ask what happened."
As his act has evolved over the years, Louis' singular comedic voice has been joined by a symphony of others. Most of his anecdotes and riffs in this set are introduced or punctuated by an impression, including a Southern belle, the Scarecrow from the Wizard of Oz (a highlight), a Boston accent, etc. While some miss the mark -- once again, he relies heavily on an uninspired stereotypically effeminate "gay voice" -- he proves himself to be quite a showman, very unlike his understated "Louie" alter ego. This special also relies heavily on facial impressions and mime work, to the point that a substantial amount will be lost in an audio-only version.
Family and fatherhood:
As usual, Louis' routine mines inspiration from his family life as a single dad raising two daughters, material that always tends to hit home because of the evident amount of thought that has gone into it. Now that his daughters are older, new topics are in bounds — the possibility of his daughters having sex, teaching his 9-year-old to lie, trying to avoid texting his daughters lewd pictures. And as usual, kids are not immune from Louis' particular brand of crudeness, whether that be talking about a hypothetical friend's daughter running through a “blizzard of bad dicks” to calling his 6-year-old neighbor a "piece of sh*t c*cksucker asshole."
Louis neatly segues from his experiences as a father to recollections of his own youth. Louis' charmingly off-kilter perspective on the world is often at its sharpest when applied to childhood recollections, like his observation of how getting in trouble as a child can feel like a monster looming over you, and what it's like to have your dog hate you. There's also a particularly memorable and oddly moving story about finding out, at the age of 7, that everybody dies, and his excitement about being able to share that news with the other children (which, of course, he does, in a predictably pull-no-punches way).
For some reason, this set is a veritable menagerie of animal humor, from Louis' abject terror when a bat flies into his country house, and a bit about watching rats fornicating on a subway platform. As usually, these anecdotes quickly spin off into absurdity, with the former launching an extended riff about a Southern belle attempting to seduce the “Bat Man," and the latter resulting in some grossly precise mime work about manually stimulating a rat. (Go watch it -- my description does not do it justice.)