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Friday, July 15, 2011

Louie meets "Joan"

Louie: Season One (DVD/Blu-ray Combo in Blu-ray Packaging)     This week, on FX's Louie, the titular character (Louis C.K.) meets comedic legend Joan Rivers (herself) in "Joan." This occurs while he is working a lounge at a Trump hotel and casino. She has a stage show, and he approaches her after her act to compliment her. She invites him up to her suite to talk, and the two discuss why Louie just quit a steady job over stupid reasons when gigs in their field are so hard to come by. The night ends with a very awkward romantic hookup.

     Louie often explores Louis's life in funny and interesting ways, coming at things from unexpected perspectives. Joan seems to stand in for Louie's other half as he argues with himself. Their words could easily have happened completely inside Louie's head. His instinct is to quit this job that he loathes, especially if they won't let him be himself. But Joan is recommending what is best for Louie, and he is wise to listen to her. It's slightly surreal.

     As for the sexual stuff, it's got to be awkward with the two of them in their current states. There's just no other way. It's an unexpected ending, and because of that, it's funny. The two have great interplay, and going out on such a limb ratchets the joke up another notch. Fantastic.

     Setting aside that Joan may serve as Louie's other half, she is also a legend unto herself, and so it is wonderful to see her appear. She keeps her own sassy, self-deprecating humor, not completely unlike Louie's own trademark brand. As she berates him, it's in her own voice. Rivers is recently enjoying a career resurgence, one of many over the years, with her turn on The Celebrity Apprentice and getting her own reality show with her daughter. Ironically, these events take place in her Apprentice boss's building. Under any circumstances, Joan is welcome.

     As mentioned, Joan has struggled, and so has Louis C.K. Having had failed TV shows before, he is supremely lucky that FX takes another chance on him. But FX gets Louis in a way that other networks have not. Louis's comedy is a truly unique vein, and trying to box him into a generic, "popular" vehicle does not work. Allowing Louie the freedom to do what he wants to do provides a much more fitting, brilliant series. Critics' raves are not unfounded.

     In the end, when someone working so hard fails, their fans want to pick them back up. It's why Joan keeps coming back after many a stumble, and it's why Louie, even having limited success with Louie, gets the attention and support of his fans rallying around him. In this series, there is both critical success and ratings disappointments. But he gets to make it, and that's what's important.

    Also in "Joan," if you like scatological humor, there is a doozy during Louis's stand up segment at the beginning. I generally don't care for this brand of humor, but somehow, Louis makes it acceptable. Even when going to totally wrong places that should never be spoken of. There is a mental image you will never be able to take back.

     I highly recommend that you buy Louie The Complete First Season, and then watch new episodes Thursdays at 10:30 p.m. ET.

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