DID YOU READ

Louis C.K.: “Hilarious” Ain’t Half of It

Louis C.K.: “Hilarious” Ain’t Half of It (photo)

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If you’ve been watching Louis C.K.’s phenomenal new show “Louie,” which just wrapped an against-expectations successful season on FX, you might, on seeing the man live, feel a strong urge to give him a hug. He seems like he could use one. C.K., who brought his stand-up concert doc “Louis C.K.: Hilarious,” shot at a 2009 performance in Milwaukee, to NYC’s IFC Center last night and tonight, is a maestro of his own misery, using breathtakingly profane comedy to chronicle his recent divorce, his reentry into the dating scene, his experiences caring for his two daughters, aging, his looks and, overall, the ever-more-real threat of mortality. There have always been comics who’ve traded on failure and self-loathing, but there’s a warmth to “Louie” that belies its notably dark territory.

Whether being bullied by a teenager, discussing gay slurs over poker or looking up an old crush on Facebook, C.K. embodies a practically spiritual belief in the power of unswerving honesty. That inability to disassemble, seen in both the variation on himself he plays and in the characters he encounters, leads to excruciatingly awkward scenes (“Its easier to masturbate if I use this lubricant,” he explains to a TSA worker in episode five) but also moments of blindsiding humanity and connection that are all the more powerful for coming out of such unsentimental situations.

“Louis C.K.: Hilarious,” which had its premiere as the first stand-up concert film to screen at Sundance earlier this year, is, like “Louie,” written and directed by C.K. The film’s playing in eights cities before heading to a TV premiere on Epix on the 18th and, eventually, DVD. “Hilarious” differs from typical comedy specials by being shot up close and personal on the RED, with a jib and a Steadicam on stage — C.K. said in the Q&A after the screening that he was inspired by Led Zeppelin concert film “The Song Remains the Same.”

09092010_hilarious3.jpgThe results are mixed — there’s an intimacy that you can’t get from a camera mounted in the back of the room, but the relentless lean in can start to seem a little claustrophobic, skipping larger movement (a bit about taking the jerk-off gesture to its conclusion loses something when, initially, the gesture takes place out of frame) in favor of watching the sweat bead on C.K.’s forehead.

But it’s engrossing to see the progress of C.K.’s material, which he breaks down as evolving over about a year, starting with formative gigs in NYC comedy clubs, leading to first 20, then 45 minutes of material that becomes a headline tour show and ultimately a special or, this year, the series. “Hilarious” covers plenty of C.K.’s (and “Louie”‘s) favorite themes, and has some obvious through lines, from his compulsive solitary consumption of ice cream to being told by a doctor “you’re only cosmetically overweight” to a trip to a nightclub to a tale of childcare disaster and epiphany that echoes the final show in the series. Other segments are consistent in sentiment, from a bit on the “white person problems” Americans complain about (uncaring about the far more serious issues plenty of people in the rest of the world face) to hyperbole in word choice — “we go right to the top shelf with words these days” — leading to the film’s title.

Answering questions after the screening, C.K. addressed the show (FX doesn’t give notes until a full episode is delivered) and its renewal (called in for a meeting, he expected problems with the just finished “God” episode, and instead was told season two was a go). He also discussed last week’s drunken Twitter tirade, during which he took shots at Sarah Palin (who he described as “a beautiful villain”), only to end up guesting on “The Tonight Show” with her daughter Bristol the next day. “It was weird to sit next Hitler’s daughter, who’s famous for having a baby too young,” he noted, but in characteristic fashion, the anecdote ended with his realizing she was terrified and nervous, and telling her she’d done a good job: “She’s just a person.”

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New Nasty

Whips, Chains and Hand Sanitizer

Turn On The Full Season Of Neurotica At IFC's Comedy Crib

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Jenny Jaffe has a lot going on: She’s writing for Disney’s upcoming Big Hero 6: The Series, developing comedy projects with pals at Devastator Press, and she’s straddling the line between S&M and OCD as the creator and star of the sexyish new series Neurotica, which has just made its debut on IFC’s Comedy Crib. Jenny gave us some extremely intimate insight into what makes Neurotica (safely) sizzle…

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IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. 

IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. You’re great. We should get coffee sometime. I’m not just saying that. I know other people just say that sometimes but I really feel like we’re going to be friends, you know? Here, what’s your number, I’ll call you so you can have my number! 

IFC: What’s your comedy origin story?

Jenny: Since I was a kid I’ve dealt with severe OCD and anxiety. Comedy has always been one of the ways I’ve dealt with that. I honestly just want to help make people feel happy for a few minutes at a time. 

IFC: What was the genesis of Neurotica?

Jenny: I’m pretty sure it was a title-first situation. I was coming up with ideas to pitch to a production company a million years ago (this isn’t hyperbole; I am VERY old) and just wrote down “Neurotica”; then it just sort of appeared fully formed. “Neurotica? Oh it’s an over-the-top romantic comedy about a Dominatrix with OCD, of course.” And that just happened to hit the buttons of everything I’m fascinated by. 

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IFC: How would you describe Ivy?

Jenny: Ivy is everything I love in a comedy character – she’s tenacious, she’s confident, she’s sweet, she’s a big wonderful weirdo. 

IFC: How would Ivy’s clientele describe her?

Jenny:  Open-minded, caring, excellent aim. 

IFC: Why don’t more small towns have local dungeons?

Jenny: How do you know they don’t? 

IFC: What are the pros and cons of joining a chain mega dungeon?

Jenny: You can use any of their locations but you’ll always forget you have a membership and in a year you’ll be like “jeez why won’t they let me just cancel?” 

IFC: Mouths are gross! Why is that?

Jenny: If you had never seen a mouth before and I was like “it’s a wet flesh cave with sharp parts that lives in your face”, it would sound like Cronenberg-ian body horror. All body parts are horrifying. I’m kind of rooting for the singularity, I’d feel way better if I was just a consciousness in a cloud. 

See the whole season of Neurotica right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

The-Craft

The ’90s Are Back

The '90s live again during IFC's weekend marathon.

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Photo Credit: Everett Digital, Columbia Pictures

We know what you’re thinking: “Why on Earth would anyone want to reanimate the decade that gave us Haddaway, Los Del Rio, and Smash Mouth, not to mention Crystal Pepsi?”

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Thoughts like those are normal. After all, we tend to remember lasting psychological trauma more vividly than fleeting joy. But if you dig deep, you’ll rediscover that the ’90s gave us so much to fondly revisit. Consider the four pillars of true ’90s culture.

Boy Bands

We all pretended to hate them, but watch us come alive at a karaoke bar when “I Want It That Way” comes on. Arguably more influential than Brit Pop and Grunge put together, because hello – Justin Timberlake. He’s a legitimate cultural gem.

Man-Child Movies

Adam Sandler is just behind The Simpsons in terms of his influence on humor. Somehow his man-child schtick didn’t get old until the aughts, and his success in that arena ushered in a wave of other man-child movies from fellow ’90s comedians. RIP Chris Farley (and WTF Rob Schneider).

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Teen Angst

In horror, dramas, comedies, and everything in between: Troubled teens! Getting into trouble! Who couldn’t relate to their First World problems, plaid flannels, and lose grasp of the internet?

Mainstream Nihilism

From the Coen Bros to Fincher to Tarantino, filmmakers on the verge of explosive popularity seemed interested in one thing: mind f*cking their audiences by putting characters in situations (and plot lines) beyond anyone’s control.

Feeling better about that walk down memory lane? Good. Enjoy the revival.

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And revisit some important ’90s classics all this weekend during IFC’s ’90s Marathon. Check out the full schedule here.

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Get Physical

DVDs are the new Vinyl

Portlandia Season 7 Now Available On Disc.

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In this crazy digital age, sometimes all we really want is to reach out and touch something. Maybe that’s why so many of us are still gung-ho about owning stuff on DVD. It’s tangible. It’s real. It’s tech from a bygone era that still feels relevant, yet also kitschy and retro. It’s basically vinyl for people born after 1990.

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Inevitably we all have that friend whose love of the disc is so absolutely repellent that he makes the technology less appealing. “The resolution, man. The colors. You can’t get latitude like that on a download.” Go to hell, Tim.

Yes, Tim sucks, and you don’t want to be like Tim, but maybe he’s onto something and DVD is still the future. Here are some benefits that go beyond touch.

It’s Decor and Decorum

With DVDs and a handsome bookshelf you can show off your great taste in film and television without showing off your search history. Good for first dates, dinner parties, family reunions, etc.

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Forget Public Wifi

Warm up that optical drive. No more awkwardly streaming episodes on shady free wifi!

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Inter-not

Internet service goes down. It happens all the time. It could happen right now. Then what? Without a DVD on hand you’ll be forced to make eye contact with your friends and family. Or worse – conversation.

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Self Defense

You can’t throw a download like a ninja star. Think about it.

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If you’d like to experience the benefits DVD ownership yourself, Portlandia Season 7 is now available on DVD and Blue-Ray.