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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”

Louis Ck White man

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.

Louis Emmy

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.

FX FX

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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WTF Films

Artfully Off

Celebrity All-Star by Sisters Weekend is available now on IFC's Comedy Crib.

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Sisters Weekend isn’t like other comedy groups. It’s filmmaking collaboration between besties Angelo Balassone, Michael Fails and Kat Tadesco, self-described lace-front addicts with great legs who write, direct, design and produce video sketches and cinematic shorts that are so surreally hilarious that they defy categorization. One such short film, Celebrity All-Star, is the newest addition to IFC’s Comedy Crib. Here’s what they had to say about it in a very personal email interview…

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IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Celebrity All-Star is a short film about an overworked reality TV coordinator struggling to save her one night off after the cast of C-List celebrities she wrangles gets locked out of their hotel rooms.

IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Sisters Weekend: It’s this short we made for IFC where a talent coordinator named Karen babysits a bunch of weird c-list celebs who are stuck in a hotel bar. It’s everyone you hate from reality TV under one roof – and that roof leaks because it’s a 2-star hotel. There’s a magician, sexy cowboys, and a guy wearing a belt that sucks up his farts.

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IFC: What was the genesis of Celebrity All-Star?

Celebrity All-Star was born from our love of embarrassing celebrities. We love a good c-lister in need of a paycheck! We were really interested in the canned politeness people give off when forced to mingle with strangers. The backstory we created is that the cast of this reality show called “Celebrity All-Star” is in the middle of a mandatory round of “get to know each other” drinks in the hotel bar when the room keys stop working. Shows like Celebrity Ghost Hunters and of course The Surreal Life were of inspo, but we thought it
was funny to keep it really vague what kind of show they’re on, and just focus on everyone’s diva antics after the cameras stop rolling.

IFC: Every celebrity in Celebrity All-Star seems familiar. What real-life pop personalities did you look to for inspiration?

Sisters Weekend: Anyone who is trying to plug their branded merch that no one asked for. We love low-rent celebrity. We did, however, directly reference Kylie Jenner’s turd-raison lip color for our fictional teen celebutante Gibby Kyle (played by Mary Houlihan).

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IFC: Celebrity seems disgusting yet desirable. What’s your POV? Do you crave it, hate it, or both?

Sisters Weekend: A lot of people chase fame. If you’re practical, you’ll likely switch to chasing success and if you’re smart, you’ll hopefully switch to chasing happiness. But also, “We need money. We need hits. Hits bring money, money bring power, power bring fame, fame change the game,” Young Thug.

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IFC: Who are your comedy idols?

Sisters Weekend: Mike grew up renting “Monty Python” tapes from the library and staying up late to watch 2000’s SNL, Kat was super into Andy Kaufman and “Kids In The Hall” in high school, and Angelo was heavily influenced by “Strangers With Candy” and Anna Faris in the Scary Movie franchise, so, our comedy heroes mesh from all over. But, also we idolize a lot of the people we work with in NY-  Lorelei Ramirez, Erin Markey, Mary Houlihan, who are all in the film, Amy Zimmer, Ana Fabrega, Patti Harrison, Sam Taggart. Geniuses! All of Em!

IFC: What’s your favorite moment from the film?

Sisters Weekend: I mean…seeing Mary Houlihan scream at an insane Pomeranian on an iPad is pretty great.

See Sisters Weekend right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib

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Reality? Check.

Baroness For Life

Baroness von Sketch Show is available for immediate consumption.

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GIFs via Giphy

Baroness von Sketch Show is snowballing as people have taken note of its subtle and not-so-subtle skewering of everyday life. The New York Times, W Magazine, and Vogue have heaped on the praise, but IFC had a few more probing questions…

IFC: To varying degrees, your sketches are simply scripted examples of things that actually happen. What makes real life so messed up?

Aurora: Hubris, Ego and Selfish Desires and lack of empathy.

Carolyn: That we’re trapped together in the 3rd Dimension.

Jenn: 1. Other people 2. Other people’s problems 3. Probably something I did.

IFC: A lot of people I know have watched this show and realized, “Dear god, that’s me.” or “Dear god, that’s true.” Why do people have their blinders on?

Aurora: Because most people when you’re in the middle of a situation, you don’t have the perspective to step back and see yourself because you’re caught up in the moment. That’s the job of comedians is to step back and have a self-awareness about these things, not only saying “You’re doing this,” but also, “You’re not the only one doing this.” It’s a delicate balance of making people feel uncomfortable and comforting them at the same time.

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IFC: Unlike a lot of popular sketch comedy, your sketches often focus more on group dynamics vs iconic individual characters. Why do you think that is and why is it important?

Meredith: We consider the show to be more based around human dynamics, not so much characters. If anything we’re more attracted to the energy created by people interacting.

Jenn: So much of life is spent trying to work it out with other people, whether it’s at work, at home, trying to commute to work, or even on Facebook it’s pretty hard to escape the group.

IFC: Are there any comedians out there that you feel are just nailing it?

Aurora: I love Key and Peele. I know that their show is done and I’m in denial about it, but they are amazing because there were many times that I would imagine that Keegan Michael Key was in the scene while writing. If I could picture him saying it, I knew it would work. I also kind of have a crush on Jordan Peele and his performance in Big Mouth. Maya Rudolph also just makes everything amazing. Her puberty demon on Big Mouth is flawless. She did an ad for 7th generation tampons that my son, my husband and myself were singing around the house for weeks. If I could even get anything close to her career, I would be happy. I’m also back in love with Rick and Morty. I don’t know if I have a crush on Justin Roiland, I just really love Rick (maybe even more than Morty). I don’t have a crush on Jerry, the dad, but I have a crush on Chris Parnell because he’s so good at being Jerry.

Jenn: I LOVE ISSA RAE!

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IFC: If you could go back in time and cast yourselves in any sitcom, which would it be and how would it change?

Carolyn: I’d go back in time and cast us in The Partridge Family.  We’d make an excellent family band. We’d have a laugh, break into song and wear ruffled blouses with velvet jackets.  And of course travel to all our gigs on a Mondrian bus. I feel really confident about this choice.

Meredith: Electric Mayhem from The Muppet Show. It wouldn’t change, they were simply perfect, except… maybe a few more vaginas in the band.

Binge the entire first and second seasons of Baroness von Sketch Show now on IFC.com and the IFC app.

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G.I. Jeez

Stomach Bugs and Prom Dates

E.Coli High is in your gut and on IFC's Comedy Crib.

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Brothers-in-law Kevin Barker and Ben Miller have just made the mother of all Comedy Crib series, in the sense that their Comedy Crib series is a big deal and features a hot mom. Animated, funny, and full of horrible bacteria, the series juxtaposes timeless teen dilemmas and gut-busting GI infections to create a bite-sized narrative that’s both sketchy and captivating. The two sat down, possibly in the same house, to answer some questions for us about the series. Let’s dig in….

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IFC: How would you describe E.Coli High to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

BEN: Hi ummm uhh hi ok well its like umm (gets really nervous and blows it)…

KB: It’s like the Super Bowl meets the Oscars.

IFC: How would you describe E.Coli High to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

BEN: Oh wow, she’s really cute isn’t she? I’d definitely blow that too.

KB: It’s a cartoon that is happening inside your stomach RIGHT NOW, that’s why you feel like you need to throw up.

IFC: What was the genesis of E.Coli High?

KB: I had the idea for years, and when Ben (my brother-in-law, who is a special needs teacher in Philly) began drawing hilarious comics, I recruited him to design characters, animate the series, and do some writing. I’m glad I did, because Ben rules!

BEN: Kevin told me about it in a park and I was like yeah that’s a pretty good idea, but I was just being nice. I thought it was dumb at the time.

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IFC: What makes going to proms and dating moms such timeless and oddly-relatable subject matter?

BEN: Since the dawn of time everyone has had at least one friend with a hot mom. It is physically impossible to not at least make a comment about that hot mom.

KB: Who among us hasn’t dated their friend’s mom and levitated tables at a prom?

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

BEN: There’s a lot of content now. I don’t think anyone will even notice, but it’d be cool if they did.

KB: A show about talking food poisoning bacteria is basically the same as just watching the news these days TBH.

Watch E.Coli High below and discover more NYTVF selections from years past on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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