There are few comedians who have ever been in Louis C.K.'s place. The guy can basically do no wrong. His FX show, Louie, has been going strong for three years now despite its cult appeal and often irrational plot lines. He just took home an Emmy for Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series, and his 2012 tour has been selling out venues across the country. C.K. has been put on something of a pedestal without having to compromise any of his values; he barely has to wear clean clothing and the world will still love him.
Houston welcomed the comedian this Friday night and packed Jones Hall not once, but twice -- a late show was added to accommodate the overwhelming response. Jones Hall at a Louis C.K. show on a Friday night was a mixture of hipsters and frat boys, chugging their overpriced Shiners before the start of the show. It was nice to see these two groups intermingling over a shared love, kind of like West Side Story.
As a surprise, comedian Todd Barry warmed the crowd up with his depressing observations on life. Barry is a skilled comic and gave the audience some great lines about our inevitable societal demise. But Barry was just an appetizer for the main course, and the minute after C.K. took to the stage, most of Barry's jokes were forgotten.
Suffice it to say, Louis C.K. killed.
Donning his regular uniform -- black tee shirt and jeans -- C.K.'s performance was spot on as he drove his set in and out of harsh realities, bizarre situations and some of the most political un-correctness that has probably ever been stated on the stage of Jones Hall. Even if you are very familiar with C.K.'s stand-up specials, his material was fresh and new. There were moments where I was waiting for certain bits, based on the direction he had taken, and I was surprised numerous times that he had a completely new spin on an old topic. He had an entirely new routine about cell phones, a topic he tackled in his Live at the Beacon Theater special.
Maybe that fresh outlook is part of his brilliance? C.K. is known to talk about his family, his kids and his divorce ad nauseam; C.K.'s family business is known far and wide. However, despite this played-out subject matter, he always finds new humor to it.
He is also always quick to call himself out on his BS. He told a hilarious story about a confrontation with a rich neighbor who was griping about C.K. lounging around in his new, fancy apartment courtyard in his dirty PJs. Just as the story got good, C.K. admitted that the confrontation was completely fabricated and what he wished would have happened.
If there were any lulls in his set, he quickly thwarted them by completely changing the subject. Going from topics such as his sex life to that of an embarrassed shark is an example of the way this guy's brain works.
After roughly an hour set, C.K. came back to a standing ovation and did his encore, stating that he never really left, just walked toward the other side of the stage for a moment. He ended the show with a series of comparisons of how we should feel about a touchy subject and then what we might actually think -- a line of thinking that C.K. has turned into comedy gold. He says all of the things you apologize for thinking, and he says them in the most amazing way.