I was a tad perplexed when I learned that Louis C.K., one of my favorite comics no one knows about, was premiering his standup film Louis C.K.: Hilarious at the Sundance Film Festival. Granted he’s funny. Very funny. But a guy on a stage with a mic telling jokes in a sweaty t-shirt and jeans didn’t seem very “Sundancy.” Even Festival Director John Cooper, in introducing the world premiere screening on Tuesday, seemed a tad sheepish in explaining why he included it in the 2010 lineup. He finally shrugged and unapologetically explained that when he saw it, he couldn’t take his eyes off of it. And he is the boss after all.
Louis C.K. is one of those no-nonsense funny men cut from the same cloth as George Carlin and Richard Pryor. His delivery and attention to detail is remarkable yet strangely therapeutic, and I don’t think there is a more engaging storyteller out there (with the exception perhaps of Eddie Izzard). His film caught the essence of the man––his gritty nature, his brutal honesty, and utter contempt for thoughtless stupidity. And he has a bit of a potty mouth. I’ll admit there were times during the show that I would have gladly jammed an ice pick deep into my ears, if it wasn’t for the fact that I was laughing so damn hard (I would recount some of his bits here but my keyboard would explode).
But all in all, the allure of Louis C.K. comes more from being a guy smart enough to play the self-deprecating lout yet teach you something rather profound at the same time. In an age when too many comics are doing the standup thing only as a means to some inane network sitcom, Louis C.K. is more interested in the fuel, not the vehicle. And his film (which actually used some pretty nifty camera techniques and thankfully strayed from the standard “single long shot from the back of some charmingly quaint old theater” cliché) spoke less like a “show” and more like a casual, albeit filthy conversation amongst good friends.