Summer's usually a time for networks to dump schlock and garbage (read: Mad Men*), but not for FX and Louis C.K. The comedian's new show, which aired its third episode last night, is not only the funniest thing on TV at the moment, but by far the bravest comedy TV has seen in some time. Here's what the autobiographical series—which mixes stand-up with short, sketch-like segments—is doing oh so right:
It's not a flattering portrait of Louis CK.
In the first few minutes of Louis C.K.'s date last week, he not only demanded to see an old woman naked, but went in for a painfully uncomfortable kiss without warning. Wallowing in depression after his divorce, he Facebook stalked an old flame. And last night, he started a petty fight with fellow comic Nick DiPaolo that escalated to unnecessary violence. Louis C.K. makes himself the butt of every joke, and I find myself rooting for the guy despite his harebrained ideas. If comedy is messy, Louie is filthy.
There's very little ego, and Louis C.K. shares the spotlight whenever possible.
Sure, the show is about Louie himself (just try and get that "Louie Lou-way" song out of your head from the opening credits), but the show's supporting players shine just as bright as the man himself. To wit, the much-blogged-about poker scene from last week, which merely features Louis C.K. as a conversation catalyst:
There's little desire for resolution.
Louie lets each segment tell its story and then wisely moves along. The second episode ended with the comedian on the floor of the former flame's house, desperately removing his pants as he slapped his tongue down her throat. There's probably more that Louie could have showed—like what happened next—but ending with that moment was about as unsettling as the moment itself. Anything Louie could have written wasn't as funny as what I imagined happened, and the show recognized that. In last night's episode, Louis C.K. went to the doctor (played by Ricky Gervais) and underwent a series of tests that he complemented by a stand-up bit about growing old, the best years of his life behind him. The story was straightforward and simple, and allowed the stand-up do the heavy lifting. Simplicity is a comedic virtue.
*Uh, just kidding, obviously.