Louis Székely (born September 12, 1967), commonly known as Louis C.K., began performing Stand-Up Comedy in the late 1980s. His act has always taken Vulgar Humor. His inspirations are George Carlin and Richard Pryor, and it shows.
In the 2000s, he began incorporating brutally honest observations about his marriage and children that take Refuge in Audacity, to say the least.
He created and starred in Lucky Louie, HBO's first traditional three-camera Sitcom, and followed up with Louie, an autobiographical Dramedy series on FX. He has also begun to emulate George Carlin's practice of creating a new hour-long stand-up special each year. He also co-created Better Things with Pamela Adlon, who stars on the series.
In 2011, he broke ground in comedy by releasing a new comedy special, Live at the Beacon Theater, exclusively online, editing it himself and funding all the production costs out of his own pocket. It could be easily bought through Paypal for only $5, and was not copy-protected.
Despite warnings about torrents and illegal downloads, in a few months the special made over a million dollars, even after Paypal fees. It was so successful that he later donated some of the proceeds, totaling $280,000, to charity. He later released an extended version of his 2013 HBO special, Oh My God, through his website. He also hosts the most recent comedy special for his friend Todd Barry.
This idea was so incredibly successful that fellow comedian Aziz Ansari did a similar sale for his next comedy special; Soon after, Jim Gaffigan also released his 2012 comedy special Mr. Universe in the same way (with some of the proceeds also going to charity). Comedy Central at its CC:Direct website has since commercialized this model, making its specials from multiple comedians available at the same $5 price point.
In 2016 he released the comedy drama series Horace and Pete on his website.
On November 9, 2017, the New York Times published an article that detailed alleged sexual misconduct that Louis committed from the late 90s to 2005. From the fallout, C.K. lost his production deal with FX, as well as having been dropped by 3Arts. The next day, he publicly confirmed the allegations. He further got himself into hot water the following August when he did an unannounced stand-up set at the Comedy Cellar in New York, leading to a debate over whether or not C.K. had truly atoned for his sins in that short amount of time. Months later, a leaked audio recording of a stand-up act surfaced where C.K. mocked the young victims of the Parkland shooting, which led to both sides of said debate uniting in condemning him. While Louis' career seems to have slowly recovered after self-releasing his 2020 special Sincerely Louis C.K. to mostly positive reviews (at least according to Rotten Tomatoes), time will tell if the public will be ready to give him a chance at a full career comeback.
Tropes explored in his stand-up and shows
- All Men Are Perverts: Along with All Women Are Prudes. In Live at the Beacon Theater he says that the reason why these two tropes are Truth in Television is because women are great at sex while men are terrible at it.Louis: We're so bad at sex, and then we wonder why women aren't, like, really aggressive about sex. We think it's 'cause they don't have as much desire as we do, that's how stupid men are, that we think, "They're just weird! Women are, like, fucked up in the head. 'Cause they don't wanna just fuck all the time. If I was a woman, I'd just fuck everybody! Why don't they wanna fuck all the time? I do!" Of course you do! Because when you fuck, you get to fuck a woman! When she fucks, she has to fuck a guy! Wildly different experience! For a man, 100% of the time he's fucking a woman, it's the greatest thing that ever happened in his entire life. For a woman, about 40% of the time she's being fucked by a guy, she's thinking, "I'll get over this in a week. It's not the worst thing. I'm not gonna cry this time..."
- He has also implied in several of his bits that women aren't really that prudish, they just seem that way in comparison because men are just so much more perverted.From Live at the Beacon Theater: Women, you get to have sexual thoughts, I have to have them!
From the Just for Laughs festival: Women have the ability to decide whether or not to have sex with their minds. They get to look at someone and think "Should I have sex with this person?" I have never had that thought in my life. There's no criteria for us, just [starts pelvic thrusting] "Duhhhhhh... She's letting me!"
- He has also implied in several of his bits that women aren't really that prudish, they just seem that way in comparison because men are just so much more perverted.
- Ambiguous Syntax: His reaction to being told to "Suck a bag of dicks!"Louis: What does he want me to do? Does he want me to take a bag of dicks and suck it, like suck the side of the bag? Does he want me to open up the bag and suck each dick individually? Do I have to make them all cum?
- Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: His revenge fantasy against Jizanthapus, the kid who twisted his daughter's arm comes off as this. He begins by saying he wants UN authority "to waterboard this little motherfucker", then he wants to ship him to Venezuela with a envelope over his head, and finally culminates it with how he wants to fuck his mom and never call her, then turn himself gay, find the kid's dad, turn him gay, have a romantic relationship with him for a few months, then just when the kid's dad starts cutting all ties to his old life and is ready to fully embrace being gay, Louis will go to a Christian Cure Your Gays place to make himself straight again, come back and dump the kids dad while shaming him for being gay just to make him feel bad. Because he has to protect his kids.
- Bat Scare: The story on the bat that found its way into his country home, and the bat man that caught it.
- Berserk Button: People who interrupt and heckle, to the point that he not only confronts them, but will aggressively single out and pick on someone who doesn't take the hint and shut up. Even addressed and justified in Louie:
- Black Comedy: If the page quotes didn't give it away, a cornerstone of his style.
- Black Comedy Rape: He'll go there.
- For instance, his workaround for Hitler's Time Travel Exemption Act? Go back in time and rape Hitler, the idea being that no one who's just been raped is going to feel like conquering Europe or murdering millions of innocent people. "Should we invade Poland?" "No, I think I'll just go take a shower..."
- Another time, he mentions he was hooking up with a waitress and she was hoping he would "just go for it" after she stopped him from taking off her shirt, so rightly he respected what he interpreted as her wishes. The next day she told him she was "weird" and had a fetish, that it had to feel "real and dangerous" - so naturally, he's mocking how unlikely to be satisfied that particular fantasy will ever be. He thought to himself "What are you, out of your fucking mind?! You think I'm just going to rape you on the off-chance that hopefully you're into that shit?!"
- Blatant Lies: One of his bits is about a confrontation he had with a snob who lived in his apartment complex, where he pretended to be a bum in order to piss the guy off. He ends the story with " ... and he didn't say anything else to me after that ... because none of it actually happened."
- During one bit, where he talks about an awkward encounter while waiting for the restroom, he literally opens with, "I was at a bar, it doesn't matter which bar because I'm lying."
- But Not Too Foreign: Louis C.K. is actually Mexican and Hungarian-Jewish (his actual last name is the very Magyar Szekely) on his dad's side and Irish on his mom's side. His stage surname is phonetically the same as his given one.
- Louie was actually raised in Mexico until he was seven and Spanish was his first language. On stage he used to quip I'm more Mexican than Carlos Mencia.
- Ching Chong: He uses it for Self-Deprecation; he describes wondering what a Chinese woman is thinking, "and my dumb brain is telling me she's just thinking: 'Hong-chung cheeng, chong chung cheeng chaing.' ...That's how dumb I am; that I think Chinese gibberish that I made up is in her actually Chinese mind!"
- Cluster F-Bomb: His stand-up comedy is rather infamous for this. Helps that his style finds influence from people like George Carlin, Steve Martin and Richard Pyror, who have all been known to do the same thing.
- Copiously Credited Creator: Much attention has been placed on how he writes, directs, produces, stars and edits each episode of Louie, his own stand-up specials and I Love You, Daddy.
- Country Matters: Used excessively, but because he loves the word and he's expected to use vulgar language.
- Deconstruction: Louis manages to deconstruct the Clifford the Big Red Dog series by describing a hypothetical book, in which Clifford accidentally steps on a policeman and gets the death penalty for it.
- Desperately Looking for a Purpose in Life: He shoots this down hard, saying life is essentially about eating and defecating, and shouldn't be perceived as more complicated than that.
- Disproportionate Retribution: A bit in Live At the Beacon Theater is about a kid in his daughter's class that he hates. When he sees the kid bully his daughter, he goes into an elaborate revenge fantasy that culminates in him turning himself gay, turning the kid's dad gay, having sex with him, moving away with him for a couple months, joining a Christian Cure Your Gays program to make himself straight again, calling the kid's dad a faggot, and making his life miserable from there.
- What he says he actually does qualifies as well. According to Louis, he got in the kid's face and said, "If you ever, ever, touch her again in your life I will..." but he didn't finish the threat when he saw how much it was scaring him.
- Don't You Dare Pity Me!: In one routine, he begins to discuss his recent divorce, and when the audience starts to go "aww" in sympathy, he immediately tells them to "Cut the shit" before describing how it was justified.
- Fiery Redhead: More like sarcastic, cussing, and sometimes enraged, redhead.
- Foreign-Language Tirade: He once recounted a time when a French tourist asked him for directions in French, to which Louis had no answer. This only angered the Frenchman and his friend, who shouted at him angrily, also in French.
- Gayngst: He goes on about an elaborate scheme to get back at the kid who shoved his daughter. He would turn himself gay, seduce the kid's father and turn him gay, and then when the father cuts all ties to his old life in order to fully embrace being gay, he'd turn himself straight again and mock the father for being gay to make him feel bad.
- If It's You, It's Okay: His bit on Ewan McGregor. He states emphatically that he's not gay...but that he would happily blow Ewan if he had the chance.
- Ink-Suit Actor: In Gravity Falls he plays basically himself...if he was a giant man-eating head with an arm growing out the top. "No one wants to get in my mouth. I've got to call my mother."
- Keep Circulating the Tapes: The fate of Lucky Louie, Chewed Up, Oh My God and I Love You, Daddy following his sexual misconduct revelations.
- A Man Is Always Eager: Despite everything he's said under All Men Are Perverts above, he has said that it is actually possible for a man to not be in the mood to have sex... but he'll still do it anyway if a woman is offering, forcing himself to have an erection if he must. A man never turns down sex out of sheer principle.
- From his "What you get with a basic life" bit, where he lists off the things you get to do simply by being alive even if you have literally nothing to your name.Louis: You get to fuck! That's free if you're smart! You get to put your dick in there and go in and out! Pretty good! And if you're a woman you get to just lay back and just have a dick just shoving in and out of you awkwardly, anytime you want. Anytime you want.
- From his "What you get with a basic life" bit, where he lists off the things you get to do simply by being alive even if you have literally nothing to your name.
- Men Use Violence, Women Use Communication: He says the difference between raising boys and raising girls is that "boys fuck things up, but girls are fucked up". Boys merely cause destruction to your property and possessions, which can usually be repaired or replaced faily easily, while girls leave you with deep emotional scars that you may not even notice until years later and never go away.
- For an example, he talked about a time when his sister-in-law visited him with her son, and her son walks up with a big handful of sand (there was no sand anywhere near the house, so he had no idea where the kid got it) and plopped right into the poor woman's drink ("It's all she had!"). He contrasted this with the time one of his own daughters accidentally broke one of her toys, so she went to him and, rather than ask him to fix it or go buy her a new one, she demanded that he go and break one of her sister's toys instead, "to make it fair". What horrified him the most was that he did it without question, not to mention the creepy evil smile on his daughter's face as she watched him do it.
- He also says that this gets turned Up to Eleven when those boys and girls grow up into men and women.Louis: A man will, like, steal your car, or burn your house down, or beat the shit out of you... but a woman will ruin your fucking life. Do you see the difference? Like, a man will cut your arm off and throw it in a river, but he'll leave you as a human being intact. He won't fuck with who you are. Women are nonviolent, but they will shit inside of your heart.
- No Equal-Opportunity Time Travel: Black people can't fuck around with time machines. White people, by contrast, can go almost anywhere - in the past. He doesn't want to see what happens to white people in the future, because "we're gonna pay hard for this shit, you gotta know that."
- N-Word Privileges: He defends his usage of the word "faggot", because he's used it since before he even knew being gay was a thing that existed, so the word is completely separated from them in his mind.
- Louis: "Faggot" didn't mean "gay" when I was a kid. You called someone a faggot when they were... being a faggot, you know? Someone's just being a faggot. [whiny voice] "Nyeeeeh." [normal voice] "Shut up, faggot." [whiny voice] "You're not supposed to use those for that-" [normal voice] "Shut up, faggot!" Like, I would never call a gay guy a faggot, unless he was being a faggot. But not because he's gay, you understand? Like, if I saw two guys blowin' each other, and I don't know why I'm watchin' 'em do it, but if I just happened, I don't know, I stumbled upon a couple of fellas blowin' one another on their respective penasia. That's a plural for "penis" that I invented today, "penasia". I would be respectful to them, I would, you know, "Hello, gentlemen," whatever, you know? But if one of them took the dick out of his mouth and started acting all faggy, and saying annoying, faggy things. [whiny voice] "You know, people from Phoenix are Phoenicians." [normal voice] Or something like that? I'd be like, "Hey, shut up, faggot! Quit being a faggot and suck that dick!" That's what I would say to him.
- Old Shame: Invoked. This video is full of jokes he says he no longer uses.
- He makes a point of once he completes a new special to retire the previous material, as he tends to find re-cycling jokes lazy.
- Only Known by Their Nickname: He never refers to his (ex-)wife or kids by name in his stand-up. His ex-wife is always "my wife" (when they were married) and now "my ex-wife", whereas he refers to his kids based on their age since they're about four years apart.
- The distempered kid known only as Jizanthapus, a name he made up on the spot so he could have a name for this kid in his routine without actually divulging the child's personal information (the kid is said to be real and was a classmate of CK's eldest daughter).
- The Other Darrin: His role as Max from The Secret Life of Pets has been recast with Patton Oswalt in the sequel.
- The Other Marty: His role as the Horrifying, Sweaty, One-Armed Monstrosity ended up being redubbed by series creator Alex Hirsch.
- Overly Long Gag: In Live at the Comedy Store, it becomes clear very quickly that Louis is purposefully letting jokes play on for way too long, just to see if the audience will stop applauding.
- Louis: Sorry, couldn't get out of that one. [...] What if I just kept going for like 40 minutes?
- Playing Against Type: His role as Dave Sanderson, a cop and really nice guy, in Parks and Recreation. He becomes Leslie Knope's boyfriend for a time in Season 2, and, being totally over the moon over her, he has nothing really bad to say about her at all.
- Poverty for Comedy: Louis has made a number of jokes around how poor one could get.You ever have negative money? That's depressing, isn't it? You look in your bank account and it says "negative $10," that's how much I have now. Negative $10
- Real Life Writes the Plot: Louie is loosely based off his life as an onstage comedian and an offstage, recently divorced father with two children.
- His movie I Love You, Daddy is based off his experiences becoming a successful TV producer trying to relate with his older teenage daughter.
- Refuge in Audacity: A lot of his act is based on this; saying things that are so shocking that their sheer inappropriateness becomes the joke.
- Especially in this routine.Louis: Alright, rape. It's not okay to rape people, right? But what about Jews?
- Especially in this routine.
- Self-Defeating Prophecy: Once stated that no one in the audience of Inside the Actors Studio, specifically those who ever stood up to ask questions, would ever become famous. Fast forward a few years later when one of his co-stars in American Hustle, Bradley Cooper, actually did ask a question as part of the audience in the aforementioned show.
- Made even more ironic when you consider that Louis' original statement was "There's no way you ask Sean Penn a question and then, you're gonna be HUGE!" and the person who Bradley Cooper did ask a question of in the show was Sean Penn.
- Self-Deprecation: A big part of his stand-up comedy.
- Stage Names: His real name is Louis Szekely. C.K. comes from an approximate English pronunciation of his surname.
- Strawman Political: Louis can't stand people with anti-gay views, they inevitably come up at least once per show (however, in keeping with his stance on Acceptable Targets, he's got no problem with mocking gays himself, either).Louis: Come on, Jesus didn't die on a cross so you could touch dicks in front of my cereal spoon! I'm sure that wasn't why! I mean, I wasn't there, but I assume that's not why.
- Stupid Sexy Flanders: Used hilariously in his special Shameless with Ewan McGregor (see If It's You, It's Okay above).
- T-Word Euphemism: He hates the phrase "the n-word" more than the actual word itself.Louis: Whenever a white lady on CNN with nice hair says "the n-word", that's just white people gettin' away with sayin' "nigger". That's all it is. They found a way to say "nigger". "N-word!" It's bullshit, 'cause when you say "the n-word", you put the word "nigger" in the listener's head. That's what saying a word is. You say "the n-word", I go "Oh, she means 'nigger'." You're makin' me say it in my head! Why don't you fuckin' say it instead, and take responsiblity for the shitty words you wanna say?
- Vulgar Humor: Part and parcel with the above. He never passes up an opportunity to curse when a softer word would've made more sense.
- What Could Have Been: Was one of many up-and-coming comedians who auditioned to be on Saturday Night Live (around the 20th seasonnote ) and didn't make the cut. However, his not becoming an SNL cast member led to him getting a writing job for Late Night with Conan O'Brien.
- White Guilt: A bit less guilty than most, but he has a standup bit where he extols how wonderful it is being a white man in a world that's basically run by (and for) white men, and that he's going to enjoy this while it lasts, because he figures karma is going to bite white men in the ass soon.Louis: We're gonna pay hard for this shit, you gotta know that. We're not gonna just fall from number 1 to 2. They're gonna hold us down and fuck us in the ass forever, and we totally deserve it. But, for now, WHEEEEEEE!
- Another bit has him describe a white noise machine as a machine white people need to help them sleep at night, "because we shouldn't be able to". The implication being that white people are (and deserve to be) kept awake due to guilt over the historical crimes their race has committed.
- He also seems to have quite a bit of male guilt as well, as evidenced by this bit from Oh My God.Louis: A woman saying "yes" to a date with a man is literally insane, and ill-advised... and th-the whole species' existence counts on them doing it, and I don't know how they-HOW DO WOMEN STILL GO OUT WITH GUYS, when you consider the fact that there is no greater threat to women than men? We're the number one threat! To women! Globally and historically we're the number one cause of injury and mayhem to women! We're the worst thing that ever happens to them! That's true! You know what our number one threat is? Heart disease. That's the whole thing. That's it. Just our own heart goin', "Dude, I can't. You can't keep doin' this. I told you three strokes ago that this is not smart." But women still, "Yeah, I'll go out with you, alone, at night." What are you, nuts?! "I'll get in your car with you with my little shoulders. Hi, where are we going?" "To your death, statistically." How do they still do it? If you're a guy, try to imagine that you could only date a half-bear, half-lion. "Oh, I hope this one's nice. I hope he doesn't do what he's going to do."