In 2011, HBO aired a one-off special, Talking Funny, featuring Jerry Seinfeld, Ricky Gervais, Chris Rock and Louis C.K, in an unhosted 50 minutes of chat about their experiences of the business, the science and the art of stand-up comedy. It was my first exposure to Louis C.K. It’s now the end of 2015 and I’m watching the 5 seasons of his show Louie. Actually I’ve only Season 1 left to watch in full (my obtuse running order having been 5, 3, 4, 2, 1* – although over the years and mainly on planes I’ve caught episodes here and there). In between times I’ve got the stand-up CDs and watched a dozen gigs and interviews on YouTube: all of which is to say that since that late discovery in 2011, Louis C.K. has been a major part of my comic consciousness, daily. And of course ‘comic’ doesn’t cover it all. Desperation, tragedy, love and really great music… they’re just as much a part.
The ‘2011’ bit is significant. It’s the year when I leave my big old career and set out into something new and, frankly, something my own. Talking Funny is embedded in the memory: the notebook pages where I scribble-draft my resignation (and the accompanying ‘rants to self’ which punctuate remarks about cats and public toilets) are shared with quotes I grab with the pause button. Hubris to be addressed: all to say I find the histories and experiences inspiring and guiding – the stuff of related worlds in the face of a challenge to be… faced. Example notes: ‘I took a risk’, I record one of the phrases, and ‘it’s about being proud of your stuff and doing things that other people couldn’t do.’ (Additionally the lovely line, ‘I’m laughing because I believe your anger’.) In the aloneness of the moment I hear voices giving out conviction that just happens to be comedy-rooted – the uneasy, scared determination I exactly need to hear being discussed. Naivety treasured. I also lock-on to the quietest one of the four.
*which creates a really interesting perspective on the cross-season Pamela storyline. More of that later.