The Videogum “Louis C.K. Promise”: Louis C.K. Live At Carnegie Hall

There are very few things that I get right. I have trouble following recipes, and I keep weirdly buying clothes that don’t fit me. What is THAT all about? But there is one thing that I did get right, and that is when I predicted that 2010 would be the Year of Louis C.K. This is not and was never to say that Louis C.K. wasn’t very successful and very popular before 2010, but it seems, at least to me, that the tone has changed in the past nine months. He has a successful show on television now that has been picked up for a second season, and not just successful but also very good, and not just very good, but very good in really unique and interesting and important ways that–without being too dramatic–could change the way some television is made in the future. Is that tentative and qualified within an inch of its life enough for you? But still. On top of that, the dude keeps writing entirely new one hour stand up specials every year, which would be crazy impressive (crimpressive?) even if they were bad, but they are the opposite of bad, they are incredible. One of them, Hilarious, was turned into a feature length film that got rave reviews at this year’s Sundance, and which I think you can still watch for free on-line here. It has been a good year! And I will tell you this: when we first made the Videogum “Louis C.K. Promise,” it was July of 2008, just two months after the site launched, and rare was it to see another weblog write about Louis C.K. Now you can’t eThrow an iStone without hitting a blog about him. Which is great! He deserves it. Let’s change Livejournal to Louisjournal. The point is, he did it.

And now he is playing concerts at Carnegie Hall. Which is nuts.

Have you ever been to Carnegie Hall? You should go there! It’s incredibly beautiful. Not unlike Radio City Music Hall, it is stunning in a way that only things that were built a long time ago when fortunes could be made by literally pressing poor people between cement slabs until oil and railroads spurted out. The front lobby is surprisingly small. It almost feels foreshortened. Which is fine, just go to your seat, what do you want to hang around a front lobby all night? Go to your seat! But on your way, take a handful of the bountiful and FREE Ricola so that you do not cough during the performance and RUIN IT. Anyway, the point is: very niiiice, this place. On the way back from the bathroom I walked by Michael Moore. Ooh la la! I should have asked him how come in his most recent movie about the dangers of capitalism he interviewed Wallace Shawn as an economics expert. Just because he went to college? But you don’t ask Michael Moore questions about the choices he’s made in the aisles of Carnegie Hall. Everyone knows that. It’s called “gauche,” look it up.

Ted Alexandro opened, and he was great. He explained that when he first moved to New York, it was to attend CUNY for a degree in jazz piano, and that he never could have imagined that 20-odd years later he would be playing Carnegie Hall as a stand up comedian. It’s not so much a joke as it is an acknowledgement of the fact that it IS at least a little bit weird that we are all in this gorgeous, historic location to talk about poopies and fart butts and jerking off SO hard. But actually, there SHOULD be comedians performing at Carnegie Hall, because stand up comedy, when it is good, is an impressive ART, and it is every bit as much a crafted performance as some 15-year-old kid from Hong Kong banging on a piano. Stand up comedy gets a bad rap a lot of the time, and for good reason, because when it is bad, there is nothing worse. But when it is good–and everything about last night was very, very good–it is transcendent, and entirely deserving of the respect of the spooky ghosts of robber barons.

Anyway, Ted Alexandro, you guys. Get on board.

And then Louis C.K. came out and performed stand up comedy and slaughtered everyone. R.I.P. audience.

There is no use trying to recap his jokes, it would be a disservice to him and to you. He is not the best at what he does because it’s so easy to just repeat it to someone else on the Internet. Although, I will let you know that he still talks a lot about his children, and having a fat body, and being divorced, and the pains of aging, and how young people are bullshit, and variations on the theme of jerking-off-SO-hard. What is interesting about Louis C.K.’s stand up, at least right now, is that he has basically picked his themes, and each year he writes the aforementioned hour-long special about mostly the same themes as the previous year’s hour-long special, and yet each time he uncovers completely new ways to talk about these issues. It in no way feels like he’s retreading well-worn territory, even though it probably should. I guess a really obnoxious comparison that makes me want to hang myself from a rafter with an NPR tote is to, like, Monet’s water lillies or some shit. BARF BARF GUNSHOT FART BARF AND YET I AM SERIOUS. Make no mistake: Louis C.K. is an artist, and he has found his subject, and he’s probably going to just keep painting that same subject until his head falls off. And that’s great news.

After his set, Louis stepped off stage to a standing ovation, but he only kept people waiting for 30 seconds, long enough to take off his sweatshirt, before coming back out and doing an encore about a time he almost died on an airplane, and the casting process for the child actors in Schindler’s List. Again: it’s of no use to anyone to get into the details. What you should do is move to New York and bookmark the Carnegie Hall homepage and make sure that the next time Louis C.K. performs to a sold out audience that includes Michael Moore you are in that audience. It’s just the easiest way to get all these jokes I’m mentioning.

The best part about 2010 being the year of Louis C.K. is that we’re going to get at least a few more years of this. It’s not like when you get to the next level they immediately kick you right back down again. (Unless you are Cuba Gooding Jr., but I like to think he was at least partly if not mostly responsible for that. Not to get too off track about Cuba Gooding Jr. but is that guy missing some kind of Decision Making Gland in his brain? Because what’s going on there?) Considering what this guy was able to do last night with just a microphone and a cup of water on an uncomfortably large stage in an opulently appointed room full of upper-middle-class white people, it’s hard to tell where the ceiling is on this. All I know is that it is very high up there. You can just barely make out the chandeliers.