TV in Review: Louie, “IKEA / Piano Lesson”
August 10, 2012 2 Comments
This season of Louie continues to be a comedy nerd’s dream, and last night’s episode has got to be the pinnacle of that. If you want to be surprised, please run off and watch the episode before reading on, as I can’t contain the spoilers for long. I can already feel it bubbling over…
The first segment, IKEA, has Louie’s patented combo of awkward and pacing. It’s got Maria Dizzia reprising her role as Delores, with plenty of inappropriate expressions of sexuality mixed in with the sanitized and square setting of IKEA. It all comes to a head over the rug.
LOUIE: It’s a rug. It’s fine. That’s the level of passion that a rug warrants. It’s a rug. It doesn’t solve all my problems. But it doesn’t make me angry. It’s a rug. It doesn’t smell bad. It’s flat. It’s blue. It goes on the floor. It’s not coated with AIDS and it’s not a portal to a nether-place. It doesn’t make me come, but it’s fine.
The Piano Lesson portion begins with that age old question: How do you tell your new piano teacher that you just got crabs? It’s Maria Bamford delivering the news, interrupting before the lesson can really get started.
MARIA: Hi! Uh, so listen, either you gave me the crabs or I gave you the crabs, but anyway, I have the crabs, and you were inside me last week, so you got crabs, too. Uh, so…
But really, it’s what came after that got me excited. On a comedy fan level, that is. My favorite contemporary comic is Marc Maron, even more than Louis CK — although maybe not more than Dave Chappelle, but Chappelle’s work schedule is kind of erratic, so he’s only half in the game. And thanks to the major success of his WTF podcast, Maron is now a known quantity by most comedy fans. Gone are the days when I would have to cajole friends to come with me to watch Maron perform to a third of a full audience at the San Francisco Punch Line. I’m a little nostalgic for those days because Maron’s fury was masterful in those situations, but I’m happy for him, for the podcast — and for his appearance on Louie.
Louie sits down on the couch and there’s an old special with a young Louis CK.
YOUNG LOUIS CK: Thank you very much. My name is Louis. I have red hair. Which means I can’t go to the beach, because I don’t really tan, I just kind of burst into flames.
I can’t imagine having to confront my younger self on television at random moments. Louie loosens up, though, when his friend Sarah Silverman appears on the screen.
SARAH: Thank you very much. It’s really nice to be here. You know, I was just back East because my sister got married. And it was really neat, you know. They took each others’ last names. They hyphenated it, you know. So now my sister’s name is Susan Silverman-Abramowitz. Yeah, but uh, they’re thinking of shortening it, to just “Jews.”
I’m going to try and locate that old special, but all I can find at the moment is Sarah Silverman’s routine. I have to say that her 41-year-old self, on Louie, accurately assesses the act of her 22-year-old self.
SARAH: I was so cute and I didn’t know better. It’s a lot of those kind of jokes. “Did I say something? I didn’t even know I said something.”
Things turn back to pure awkwardness, though, when Marc Maron appears on the screen.
MARC: How you doing folks, alright? Let’s start a revolution, what do you think?
Maron’s appearance is particularly electric for those who know the history of the two comedians, who were fast friends when they were both trying to make it as young comics in New York. One of my favorite WTF episodes remains the two-part interview where Marc talks with Louis about why their friendship fizzled. I haven’t listened to it since it came out, but my memory is that there wasn’t a particular incident, but more of a drifting apart, with some jealousy common to the pressure-filled life of stand-up comedians. Well, by “some jealousy” I mean “major jealousy on the part of Maron,” as Louis’ career skyrocketed. If I recall correctly, Marc joked that he had initially interpreted the title of Louis’ show, Louie, as “Fuck You, Marc Maron.”
With that background in mind, it was pleasurable to see the relationship played out on Louie, with Louie going to visit Marc and the reveal being that Louie repeats a stunned apology that he had already given, five years earlier.
Besides the pacing and permutations of the plot, I loved this coming together because it exploits one of my favorite aspects of stand-up comedy (and of Louie) — namely, that stand-up comedians are performing versions of their off-stage selves, and the line often turns confusing. Most hard-core Louis CK fans probably already know Marc Maron, but this will introduce him to an even larger audience. He hasn’t mentioned it at all on his podcast, so I expect it to be part of the episode which drops on Monday. Marc has his own TV show coming out on IFC, but I’d love it if he kept popping up on Louie. And knowing Marc, I’m pretty sure he’d love that as well.