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Louis C.K. comedy ‘not for the faint of heart’

Joel Stonington
Louis C.K. brings his standup routine to the Wheeler Opera House tonight and The Tent on Friday. (Courtesy U.S. Comedy Arts Festival)
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Louis C.K. is not a household name yet – even though he’s been doing standup for 21 years, earned an Emmy as a writer for “The Chris Rock Show,” made a number of feature films and appeared on “The Late Show with David Letterman” half a dozen times.He and fellow comic Jim Norton will be doing two nights of standup here in Aspen as part of the HBO/U.S. Comedy Arts Festival. “It’s probably not going to be for the faint of heart,” Louis said. “I do a lot of things about my daughter being an asshole. Trying to find a place to hide to masturbate. There’s no way it’s not going to be funny.”So the latest project he’s working on for HBO may go into the cult-classic realm, where some of his films have been relegated, or it could catapult him into fame.Airing in June, “Lucky Louie” is a standard-looking sitcom, starring Louis C.K. and his pot-dealing friend, played by Jim Norton. It is HBO’s first multicamera, half-hour comedy. He developed, produced, wrote and stars in the show, about a working-class family barely getting by. “Most sitcoms are horrid,” Norton said. “If we bomb on this one, it’s our own fault. HBO allowed us a tremendous amount of room. The show in general, it’s real. It’s the way people interact with each other.”Hence, he’s shooting for something different from the standard sitcom on the networks. “Our show is very extreme,” Louis said. “We go to some scary and honest places.”So far 12 of the shows have been filmed and performed them in front of live audiences. “I know I’m going to miss it,” he said. “It’s great to watch it get unleashed on an unsuspecting audience. It’s a huge shock.”Most of the material for the show comes from Louis’ standup comedy. So he keeps in shape by dropping by comedy clubs on the way home from work for 20 minutes or so. And he loves developing new material for a gig like he’ll do here. Because he isn’t that well-known, he says he feels he always has to prove himself from scratch with every audience. He feels the same way about the HBO show. Audience members don’t know what they’re getting into. So they walk in, expecting an average sitcom, and get something entirely different. First off, Louis said, people on the show curse as much as normal people. But more than that, they take it into some dangerous realms.”We have an episode where I’m having sex with my wife and she has an orgasm and it’s a big one and she realizes she hasn’t had one. So now she wants one every time,” Louis said. “It puts me in a horrible new position.”It’s not just sex and cussing that gives it some grit, he said, there are also some realistic marital battles. They also delve into religion and social issues.”Our daughter gets taken to church by the neighbors,” he said. “She comes home scared, and my wife says ‘Oh honey, Jesus isn’t real.’ We’re not just doing stunts. We then go into having to take her to church and deal with it. Religion and Christianity plays a role in our marriage. I start going to confession by mistake. I end up confessing to a priest, and it starts to affect our marriage.”The show, however, is a meticulous process, and something that Louis C.K. said can be overwhelming at times. Especially seeing how he is the writer and main character. So doing standup is a big release for him. The last time I was at Aspen, I did the Wheeler,” he said. “It’s a lot of local people there. When you do shows at Aspen there’s a lot of industry. The Wheeler, it seems like a lot of Aspen locals came down. I’ve been really looking forward to that show.”Louis C.K. and Jim Norton will perform standup comedy at 10:30 p.m. today at the Wheeler Opera House and at 8:30 p.m. Friday at The Tent.Joel Stonington’s e-mail address is jstonington@aspentimes.com


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