“Ladies and gentlemen, Louis CK!”. These are the words I have been waiting to listen for a very long, long time. It happened though last night. As the first of his ’17 shows, he was in Austin for a stand up like no other. I’ll only give one little spoiler, his exact opener line: “So… I was thinking about abortion…”. And he did give quite an interesting thought about it throughout the event. I now fully comprehend the reasoning behind why he’s considered probably the best performer and also my personal most favorite. It’s because he can bring all sorts of controversial issues to table and make the most out of it without being partisan or dogmatic, while still being incisive and astute. But there’s something more fundamental which constitutes his style top-notch. Hear me out.
Louis CK’s noir comedy implies that you are going to be exposed to scenarios that will put you way out of comfort zone. Examples of what you might encounter: your dad’s genitals, beheadings, the inevitable death of all love, your secret homosexuality, indifference towards killing pets, religion’s inconvenient status quo, the hidden hate for your children and tickling thoughts on suicide to name a few. The pressing question at this moment is “How is this even art? How is that experience of extreme negativity and edginess eventually helpful to me?”. Well, I claim it is, quite a lot to be honest.
To understand the crux of the matter, there needs to be made a clear distinction between the terms comedy and satire. It’s okay to use them interchangeably as long as that you understand the underlying difference. Comedy’s purpose is to make us laugh just for the sake of it, just because laughter is a pleasing emotion. Satire’s goal, on the other hand, is to make us think through laughter. It’s the mirror mechanism of drama (or tragedy, if the more pertinent word coming from the 3 types of ancient Greek theater is used), which triggers our mindset through sorrow. The end result is the same in both cases. Satire and tragedy push our boundaries of perception, challenge our morals, questions traditions, misconceptions and stereotypes, forces us to ponder upon life’s deepest quandaries. That is why Louis CK is not merely funny and his noir comedy is a full-blown satire in actuality. When exiting the venue, along with chuckles, you should have a feeling of existential crisis on the brink, otherwise your money was not well-spent.
If you ever read this Louis, I’m saying ευχαριστώ (ef-ha-ri-sto = thank you). Let’s teach people a better Greek word than malaka, shall we?