Since 2006 with Shameless Louis C.K.’s been producing some of the best stand-up comedy specials. When I downloaded his new special Live at the Comedy Store and watched it several times over three days I thought “Oh no, this is good but not great.”
What I thought about changed when I read this article from Wired Magazine, Louis CK’s Latest Email Is a Fantastic Elegy to Comedy Clubs. According to Vulture Louie “has described this new special as a tribute to the workshop tradition of comedy-club material.”
“Oh,” I thought, “So it’s like when a band makes a concept album or a group of friends has an inside joke.” Essentially, unless those previous specials this one is more of an experiment. He’s trying to capture what it’s like when you’re developing a setlist at a comedy club and you’re trying out the material in front of a tough crowd.
You can definitely tell. Some jokes are riffed, some are honed material, and others feel like he’s trying them for the first time. He’s not afraid to go off the rails or be silly. The only thing missing is crowd work but C.K. might not be the type of comic.
Still, unless you’re reading his e-mails on his mailing list closely, have a deep knowledge of the stand-up comedy business or are a stand-up comedian yourself you may download this special and not understand what’s he doing. That’s where the idea of it being an inside joke popped into my head. Like an inside joke, this special could be ostracizing to the casual viewer. Then again, considering the sales of the special I don’t think this will matter much in the end.
I just don’t think in the long run, this special will be as appreciated or seen as one of his best. However, I’d rather he try new things then try to stay the same.