Back in December, Louis C.K. received a lot of press for his decision to make his latest comedy special, Live at the Beacon Theater, available for download directly from his website for the bargain price of $5. Louis C.K. viewed it as an experimental model for comedy distribution; by providing the product directly to the consumer, he didn’t have to worry about editing or other creative compromises that are occasionally necessary for DVD distribution. He would have total control over the finished piece and consumers would have the ease of simply streaming or downloading the special right to their computer. His gamble totally paid off. Even without electronic copy protection, which would have made it harder for the video to be pirated, he earned a reported $1.1 million in ten days and was able to give generous donations to several charities. Fellow comedians Jim Gaffigan and Aziz Ansari soon followed suit, releasing their own specials online.
$5 from the $1.1 million that Louis C.K. earned came from me and that was money well spent. I’m a big fan of Louis C.K.; I saw him live about a year ago and it was hands down the funniest comedian that I have ever seen. I legitimately was having trouble breathing because I was laughing so hard. He has great delivery and timing and while his jokes can veer into material that some would consider dirty, I would never consider him vulgar. And that’s not his whole shtick anyway; Louis is at his best when he is being self-deprecating and when he talks about raising his two daughters as a divorced dad. He’s a comic’s comic; he’s widely respected within the world of comedy not just for his stand-up but for his show Louie that airs on F/X. He has a deal with the network that a lot of people envy: he does the show on the cheap and they let him have total creative control. The results are pure genius. Each episode is more like two short vignettes on random topics. While there is some continuity in the show, linear story telling is not the focus. For example, the same actress has played a potential love interest for Louis as well as his mother in flashback (subconscious Oedipus complex?). The show has elements of auto-biography to it, but it also has detours into whatever weird or usual detours that Louis can come up with. The results are a hilarious, but often poignant show that is one of the best things on TV. Louis was also great in his somewhat surprisingly sweet guest role on Parks and Recreation.
In advance of the beginning of season 3 of Louie in June, F/X will be airing Live from the Beacon Theater this weekend at 10 pm ET on Saturday. The show will presumably have to be edited for content and time, but should be enjoyable all the same. The special is also still available on his website for download if you want to watch the special with the cussing and without commercials. Either way, you should definitely check out one of the best comedic voices out there. And while you’re at it, check out the season debut of Louie on June 28th.
Here’s an outtake from the Live from the Beacon Theater that wasn’t in the on-line version and presumably won’t be on the TV version either. But it at least gives you a taste of Louis in case you are unfamiliar with him. NSFW
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Have a great weekend and thanks for reading!