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Lucky Louis

10 Things You Might Not Know About Louis C.K.

Louis visits Portlandia tonight at 10P on IFC.

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Louis C.K. seems to be everywhere these days, whether he’s dropping sitcoms out of nowhere, stealing the spotlight at the Oscars or hanging out with comedy nerds Fred and Carrie on this week’s Portlandia. But for a man who’s become this ubiquitous, fronting confessional stand-up specials and running autobiographical TV series, there’s still a lot we don’t know about the guy. Here are a few surprising things about the stand-up extraordinaire that even a super fan like you may have missed.

10. He’s an “Accidental White Person”

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With his fiery red hair and pasty white skin, Louis doesn’t exactly scream Hispanic. And yet, Louis is as much Mexican as he is anything else. He actually spent the first seven years of his life south of the border, only learning to speak English when his family moved to the States. His real name is Louis Szekely, coming from his father’s Hungarian/Mexican side of the family. He changed it to the abbreviated C.K. because no one ever knew how to pronounce his name. Much like America, Louis is a melting pot. Who knew?


9. He Once Asked Donald Rumsfeld If He Was a Lizard Person.

Louis has been a regular on the Opie and Anthony radio show for years, amassing over a hundred hours behind the mic. But no visit got more attention than when he asked former Secretary of Defense and Iraq War architect Donald Rumsfeld if he was a “lizard person.” What makes the exchange even more noteworthy is that Rumsfeld never actually denied he was one. Cue The X-Files music, because Louis just went full Mulder on us.


8. He Was The First Stand-up Ever on Conan.

Louis was one of the first writers hired when Conan O’Brien succeeded David Letterman as host of Late Night. In those early days, the show struggled to book guests, thus the repeated appearances of Tony Randall and the Zappa brothers. This dearth of options led to one of Louis’ big breaks. What do you do when you’re short a guest and have time to kill? You shove whoever’s siting around the office on camera and hope for the best. That’s how Louis (back when he had a full head of hair) became the first stand-up to perform on Late Night w/ Conan O’Brien.


7. His Boxing Trainer is Micky Ward of The Fighter fame.

Micky Ward

In 2008, Louis was going through a rough patch. His marriage had fallen apart, and his HBO sitcom Lucky Louis had been canceled. Out of shape mentally and physically, he began to feel like all this turmoil was taking a toll on his act. And so he did what any of us would, and hired Micky Ward, the boxer made famous by Mark Wahlberg in the Oscar winning film The Fighter, to knock him into shape. Seeing similarities between stand-up and boxing, he felt it was important to “do the grunt work and the boring, constant training so that you’ll be fit enough to take the beating.”


6. He Confronted the President of the Catholic League Over an Insult…

FX Productions

FX Productions

Louis is never shy about offending people. He’ll say whatever he wants to make a point, or get a laugh. Most people love him for it, but Catholic League president Bill Donahue isn’t most people. He wasn’t a fan of Louis’ HBO sitcom Lucky Louie, calling it “barbaric.” What he wasn’t counting on was having to say it to the crass comedian’s face. When the two met, Louis confronted him on the insult, and got the pious politician to admit he’d never seen the show.


5. …And Also Apologized to Sarah Palin.

Sarah Palin

Like we said, Louis is famous for a lot of things, but having a filter isn’t one of them. Add in a few cocktails and some free Wi-Fi on a long flight, and you’ve got a recipe for comedy gold, with a very serious hangover. Back in 2010, a lubricated Louis decided it was time to take down everyone’s favorite Alaskan governor, Sarah Palin. And oh boy did he, tweeting a lot of things we can’t repeat here. But years later, at the SNL 40th Anniversary, Sarah Palin approached him, and told him how funny she thought he was. Overcome with guilt, he blurted out an apology. Palin later said “maybe it surprises people, but I was sincerely humbled and appreciative.” And you know she means it, because that’s about the only thing she’s ever said that makes sense.


4. He Broke an Emmy Record While Simultaneously Getting Snubbed.

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In 2012, Louis broke an Emmy record, raking in seven individual nominations for his work on the FX series Louie, along with his self-produced stand-up special Live at the Beacon Theatre. It was an impressive haul, which makes the fact that Louie failed to get nominated for Best Comedy that year all the more bewildering. Still, Louis was grateful, telling the New York Times, “that’s a lot of nominations. It feels selfish, because I was really rooting for everybody on my show, so I feel a little selfish.” He would go on to win two Emmys that year, three if Julia Louis-Dreyfus counts as a “Louis.”


3. He Has A Feeling Martians Crashed A Moon Into Earth.

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Back in 2014, Louis sent out a seemingly innocent tweet, reading, “I seriously just can’t think of anything to tweet. #sorry.” But when has Louis ever stopped because he didn’t have something to say? Before anyone knew what was happening, he began laying out a massive theory about how Martians abandoned their planet, destroyed by global warming, and used their moon as a spaceship to take them to Earth. Apparently, the Martians crashed the moon into our planet, killing everyone on board and causing our smaller moon to enter orbit. Not yet finished, he explained that he also felt that our solar system is a spaceship, and the sun is the engine, and someday we’ll find the button that will let us travel through the universe. It all sounds pretty solid to us. He ended his rant by letting us know “I’m not high.”


2. His Shoots Are More Student Film Than Sitcom.

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Unlike most other sitcoms, that have craft service budgets bigger than average Americans earn in a year, Louis likes to keep things pretty low rent. He used his own camera, a $17,000 RED, for the first few seasons of his show, before FX convinced him to let them buy him a new one. He also only shoots three days a week, because he has his daughters for the rest of the week and doesn’t want the show to interfere. Robin Williams, who guest starred on a episode, was so shocked and impressed by the bare bones approach Louis had adopted, he returned his paycheck so it could go to the crew.


1. He’s Got Joe Rogan’s Back.

Joe Rogan

Louis is one of the great comedians of our time, and as a result he’s been the victim of joke thieves for years. Most famously, he confronted Dane Cook in an intense episode of Louie over the comedian’s penchant for repeating his material. So when Joe Rogan, a fellow comic who’s waged war against joke thieves, came under fire, Louis had his back. Apparently, Joe and Louis shared a management company, along with famous joke thief Carlos Mencia. When their managers pressured Joe to quit harassing their cash cow, or face their wrath, Louis dropped them out of solidarity. Now, remind me, how many Emmys is Carlos pulling in these days? Yeah, that’s what I thought.

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SO EXCITED!!!

Reminders that the ’90s were a thing

"The Place We Live" is available for a Jessie Spano-level binge on Comedy Crib.

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Unless you stopped paying attention to the world at large in 1989, you are of course aware that the ’90s are having their pop cultural second coming. Nobody is more acutely aware of this than Dara Katz and Betsy Kenney, two comedians who met doing improv comedy and have just made their Comedy Crib debut with the hilarious ’90s TV throwback series, The Place We Live.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Dara: It’s everything you loved–or loved to hate—from Melrose Place and 90210 but condensed to five minutes, funny (on purpose) and totally absurd.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Betsy: “Hey Todd, why don’t you have a sip of water. Also, I think you’ll love The Place We Live because everyone has issues…just like you, Todd.”

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IFC: When you were living through the ’90s, did you think it was television’s golden age or the pop culture apocalypse?


Betsy: I wasn’t sure I knew what it was, I just knew I loved it!


Dara: Same. Was just happy that my parents let me watch. But looking back, the ’90s honored The Teen. And for that, it’s the golden age of pop culture. 

IFC: Which ’90s shows did you mine for the series, and why?

Betsy: Melrose and 90210 for the most part. If you watch an episode of either of those shows you’ll see they’re a comedic gold mine. In one single episode, they cover serious crimes, drug problems, sex and working in a law firm and/or gallery, all while being young, hot and skinny.


Dara: And almost any series we were watching in the ’90s, Full House, Saved By the Bell, My So Called Life has very similar themes, archetypes and really stupid-intense drama. We took from a lot of places. 

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IFC: How would you describe each of the show’s characters in terms of their ’90s TV stereotype?

Dara: Autumn (Sunita Mani) is the femme fatale. Robin (Dara Katz) is the book worm (because she wears glasses). Candace (Betsy Kenney) is Corey’s twin and gives great advice and has really great hair. Corey (Casey Jost) is the boy next door/popular guy. Candace and Corey’s parents decided to live in a car so the gang can live in their house. 
Lee (Jonathan Braylock) is the jock.

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Dara: Because everyone’s feeling major ’90s nostalgia right now, and this is that, on steroids while also being a totally new, silly thing.

Delight in the whole season of The Place We Live right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. It’ll take you back in all the right ways.

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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.