Comedy that rolls with the changes
Oct. 16, 8 p.m.
Music Mill, 3720 E. 82nd St.
Tickets: $25; (317) 841-1850
Louis C.K.’s new standup special, “Chewed Up,” premiered Oct. 4 and, as far as he’s concerned, it’s already old news. When he comes to the Music Mill, he promises a completely new hour of material.
“If you don’t do the old jokes, three people will come up to me in a given week and say, ‘Why didn’t you do Suck a Bag of Dicks?'” he says, referring to one of his fans’ favorite bits. “But a hundred people won’t come up to me. They’ll go home and say, ‘Why did I pay to see that shit again?’ I think, overall, most people would rather see something new.
“Also, life keeps changing. New material is better than old material. That’s the way I look at it.”
So, new it is. And in keeping with that theme, we’ll skip rehashing his bio and go straight to the questions.
NUVO: Your sitcom, “Lucky Louie,” was on HBO, but your new standup special aired on Showtime. Should we read anything into that?
C.K.: No. I did a lot for HBO in the last couple of years — a huge amount of stuff by me that they put on there. I came up with “Chewed Up” pretty fast — a year after “Shameless” — and they’re not used to having two specials from the same comedian in two years. I think if I had waited, it would have been on HBO. But I wanted to get this one out so I can work on the next one.
NUVO: What was the experience like, doing “Lucky Louie”?
C.K.: It was great. A great, great time. That’s really living life to the fullest. I was starring in a show based on exactly what I wanted to be doing.
NUVO: I never knew if HBO was fully behind you.
C.K.: The great thing about HBO is, when you’re on the air, they really let you do what you want. They didn’t interfere with the show. They promoted it pretty well. Not hugely, but not any less than any other show starting out. The people I dealt with at HBO were all very supportive of the show. It’s people higher up who make the bigger decisions that took it off. I don’t know those people. All the time I was there, I felt fully supported. After we finished shooting the first season, they paid us to write eight more scripts. They paid me and my partner to stick around. They were more supportive than anywhere I’ve ever worked up until the very second it was canceled by the people they work for.
NUVO: In the new special, the bit about the advantages of being white is just hilarious. Not to get too analytical about it, but what triggered that thought?
C.K.: It’s a thought I’ve always had. It comes from two different places. One is people I know who complain about being white and this sort of new, bizarre idea that white males are a besieged people. Which is insanely the opposite of the truth to me. And also, I have a friend who’s black — Chris Rock. He’ll call me sometimes and say, “How’s being white today?” I would go, “Man, it’s the greatest.” I would brag to him about what was going on with being white and he would just laugh and laugh.
NUVO: Is that where his joke came from where he says, “You guys wouldn’t trade places with me — and I’m rich”?
C.K.: He and I have always compared notes about being black and white, yeah.
NUVO: You start the special talking about how you can’t use the words “faggot,” “cunt” and “nigger” because people have ruined the meaning. I laughed when I watched it and I was also sort of cringing. I wondered if this was your way of proving that old George Carlin line that anything is funny in the right context.
C.K.: I think it’s true. As a matter of fact, the more painful or sensitive a subject is, the more it’s worthy of being mined for laughs. That’s a great way to use laughter — to make people go to a place that’s uncomfortable. To take them there and make them laugh while they’re there is a very positive thing. Those words bring up such negative connotations. People get unreasonably upset. I think it was worth it to sit and talk about them as words.
NUVO: There are a lot of really good standup comics on the road right now, and that hasn’t happened for a long time. Do you get the sense that there’s a revival of standup at the moment?
C.K.: A bit, yeah. There’s sort of a new network of promoters and theaters doing standup now. It used to just be the comedy clubs. But promoters have found they can rent a room and bring in a comedian who has a following, throw a little money at it and get people to come. It’s a new way to do comedy and it caught on. Guys like me — and Jim Gaffigan, to a larger degree — are benefiting from that. You come to these places for one night and you’re seen by about the same number of people who would see you in a comedy club for a week. Like everything else in America, it’s the financial model that guides the culture.
NUVO: Someone left a comment on Funny or Die that said, “Dane Cook has stolen so many jokes from Louis C.K. that he should be doing time.” What I want to ask you is, do we have you to blame for Dane Cook?
C.K.: (Laughs) I don’t know. That thing has been around for three years now. I’ve never cared. He’s over there and I’m over here. I can’t pay attention to things like that. A bunch of people created that controversy. I’m not that kind of person. I just keep writing more shit. I don’t identify with any of that material anymore, anyway. It’s old jokes.