Two weeks ago, Louis C.K. concluded his eight-show run at Carolines in New York City, and I was lucky enough to snag tickets to one of the sold-out performances. After going to the show, it was obvious why tickets sold as fast as they did.
I have been a fan of his for years now, watching almost every stand-up clip he's ever done as well as his critically acclaimed series, "Louie," on FX. So it came as no surprise to me that his set would be exactly what his fans have come to expect -- brutal honesty at its most hilarious.
For about an hour, Louis C.K. regaled the crowd with his thoughts on ridiculous social norms, the bizarre inner workings of Republicans, fatherhood and, of course, the vast troubles of getting older. However, underneath the admitted bitterness of life's shortcomings, it's clear he's not just an angry guy who "never eats for nutritional value" -- but actually a brilliant writer, a loving father and perhaps far smarter than most people you've ever met.
Amazingly, all my assumptions about the comic were proven true when he agreed to meet a blogger like myself after his act to talk before his 10:30 pm show (an attribute to his kind and empathetic personality, despite his self-deprecating humor). I stood in a hallway near the kitchen after being told to wait there by a club manager and was stunned to find the comedian walk up behind me reaching out to shake my hand.
So there we were: me, a girl who sometimes survives on $1 pizza slices for dinner and Louis C.K, a famous comedian who has been in a private plane with Ricky Gervais. I quickly noticed that he was eating a Pixie Stix and would continue to do so throughout our conversation. He was dressed in his typical black T-shirt and jeans, acting sincerely appreciative to my praising of his work.
While reeling in my excitement, I spoke to him about the show at hand and his life as someone who Deadspin referred to as "The best stand-up comic of his generation."
"Yeah, I'm very lucky," he said. "But I'm just a regular guy who goes home, jerks off and goes to sleep. Right now, people are coming to shows -- which is awesome -- but it's a fickle business and you never know when they'll stop." He didn't seem to be affected by the fame he's garnered over the years at all. "Shows like this are great," he added, "but they're a lot of work."
A lot of work is right -- the entire show that night appeared to be new material. I didn't recognize any of it. There weren't even any jokes from his latest DVD, "Hilarious." However, this isn't uncommon for the comedian. In June, the Boston Globe reported that "Every year, like a compulsive spring cleaner, Louis C.K. throws out all of his material."
Knowing time was of the essence, I couldn't leave without asking him about "Louie." For instance, did his real-life babysitter actually sob to him in his apartment, telling him to "go out," as portrayed in the season finale? Or did a young woman really proposition him so aggressively because she had a thing for old guys?
"It's a little exaggerated," he said while smiling. "But I do have a babysitter that I always use and I send her home a lot." And as far as the young woman, he explained "I wasn't accosted like that, but I have been approached by younger women who were into me for that reason."
We spoke briefly about life in New York and what it's like when you're starting out. He asked if my parents wished I was doing something else, and I told him my mother thinks I'm crazy for being in a place like this and not caring about getting engaged. We laughed, and he teased me about getting a college degree in something so useless (journalism). I was delighted by his candidness throughout our conversation and wondered if he ever felt too vulnerable or exposed when discussing his personal life on the show and in his act. "Not really," he assured me. "There are still things that I keep private."
As we stood in the fluorescently lit hallway, the sound of glasses clinking in the background and Louie's cherry Pixie Stix getting shorter, I knew I couldn't keep him much longer. But, as I was preparing to thank him and say goodbye, I thought about how few times I will have the opportunity to talk to someone who is making a career doing the thing they love the most -- something we're all striving for in one way or another.
"So many will try to succeed at what you're doing and fail," I said. "You've made it into that miniscule percentage of people who are living their dream. What does that feel like?"
He nodded humbly. "It feels great. As I said, I'm very, very lucky," he explained. "I've been doing this for 25 years and there's no easy road to being a comic." He didn't say it with a sense of entitlement, but rather gratitude for what he's become.
With people starting to crowd into the club behind us for his second show, I shook his hand goodbye, telling him I was looking forward to the second season of "Louie." He wished me well and thanked me for stroking his ego. I turned the corner towards the exit, still high from the experience.
The truth is, if he had not been as likable in person, it wouldn't have mattered. I'd still buy tickets to his shows and watch his DVDs. Why? Because Louis C.K. possesses that rare quality of articulating things in a way most of us can't. He makes us laugh at the things in life that frustrate us the most and avoids sugar coating what we're afraid of. That, in my opinion, will always keep people's attention.
But the next time you're watching his YouTube clips on your lunch break, wondering if he's all you'd imagine he'd be in real life, know that he's not. He's much more.