Louis C.K. has spent 20 years on the comedy circuit in America, performing as a stand up as well as writing for numerous TV shows (most notably The Chris Rock Show for which he won an Emmy in 1999) and doing a spot of acting.
He’ll be familiar to those of you who saw Ricky Gervais’ largely disappointing movie directorial debut, The Invention Of Lying, in which he played the best friend of Gervais’ characterand was one of the few highlights of the movie.
Gervais is a huge supporter of C.K. and has hails him as being the funniest comedian in America. Chris Rock has also heaped praise on C.K., which isn’t that surprising given his involvement in Rock’s show, describing him as “The greatest comic mind of the last quarter century”.
C.K. had a sold out show in Edinburgh last year and a series of sold out shows at the Soho theatre spanning three weeks in July and August this year.
Chewed Up is Louis C.K.’s first DVD of his to get a Region 2 release, but is actually his third DVD and was released in America last year, having been filmed for a cable special. Presumably, Gervais’ comments prompted Anchor Bay to give it a release.
With the praise C.K. has received and a number of sold out dates, I had high hopes going into watching this DVD. So, does Louis CK live up to the high praise bestowed on him? Well, in short, yes, he does.
I have to say that I didn’t find him that offensive. Sure, in the first 10 minutes of the set he uses a lot of words you expect to cause offence, but his delivery isn’t aggressive. I found this a little unusual having seen comics cover similar topics, who are renowned for controversy, such as Doug Stanhope coming across as being quite aggressive. C.K. is an extremely affable comic and whilst there’s no audience interaction there’s a fantastic atmosphere.
C.K. covers topics such as his weight, age, visits to the doctors and how they treat older people and being a father. The material flows seamlessly and is, for the most part, incredibly funny.
In terms of similarities to other comics, George Carlin is a fairly obvious one and comparisons could be made between moments in this set and Carlin’s Seven Words routine. If Carlin was the natural successor to Lenny Bruce, C.K. is the most likely successor to Carlin that I’ve seen. This DVD is dedicated to Carlin.
A willingness to cover any subject matter, regardless of how offensive it may be, is, without doubt, his strength and will perhaps one day see him held in a similar regard to the comedy greats mentioned previously.
Being labelled as the funniest comedian in America is a tricky title to live up to, but Louis C.K. performs admirably here. Whilst I would hesitate to say that he is the funniest comedian in America, based on watching this DVD, it is an extremely solid and funny stand up set that’s among the best set I’ve seen in recent years from an American stand up. I’m keen to seek out his other material.
There’s a 40-minute interview with C.K. as an extra on the disc. He’s answering pre-prepared questions that have been written down for him. I thought this would be a little dry as he’s, essentially, interviewing himself, but it’s really interesting.
If you’re looking for a DVD of a stand up that you’re perhaps not overly familiar with and don’t mind offensive material,t his is well worth a purchase. I’m sure those who are fans of C.K.’s work won’t be disappointed. Hopefully, his previous works (One Night Stand & Shameless) will find a release, over here, in the not too distant future.
Louis C.K Chewed Up is out now.
Louis C.K. is performing at the Bloomsbury Theatre on the 13th and 14th November. There’s 19.30 and 21.30 performances both nights and, at the time of writing, tickets were available, although availability is limited.