Boy is that Louis C.K. an underachiever. In September, he won Emmys for Louie, the edgy, expansive FX series he writes, directs, produces and stars in, and for Louis CK Live at the Beacon Theater, the game-changing standup show he sells for five dollars a download online. In November, he crushed it hosting Saturday Night Live. In April, his new HBO special, Oh My God, debuted. Now he’s revving up for a fourth season of Louie. Check out his comedy albums Chewed Up and Hilarious on Spotify, then chew up this hilarious fellow’s thoughts on humor, confidence and tough 12-year-old girls below…
“When you go through horrible and difficult things and you come out of it OK, that gives you confidence. Because then you can’t be beat.”
MADE MAN: What do you love about touring and doing standup?
LOUIS C.K.: Well, it remains the thing I’m best at, and it’s always saved my life. It would be crazy for me to stop. It’s where a lot of my favorite ideas come from; they start on stage, and it keeps that energy alive for me. It’s what people depend on me to do better than anything else I do. The most money I make is on stage. I still make way more doing that than I do with the show! So it makes me able to do shows like FX. Not that I couldn’t support myself on what I make at FX. But the standup takes a lot of pressure off wanting to have to do other things. And I love going out. It keeps my blood moving. It’s one of the functions of my body, it feels like.
MM: How do you ‘be’ funny?
LCK: I think you have to have a feeling. There is a way to manufacture funny; there is a science and a math to humor. And if you study it, you can pattern it. But it will only get you so far. If you just have an innate humor about you, then you can’t go wrong. You just have to tap into your own thing. If you try to pattern your humor after somebody else, you are just going to fail. Because the thing that makes people laugh the most is a new, original idea they haven’t heard before. If you don’t have that, then you just have to keep trying.
MM: Some say if you are trying to pick up a girl, humor is the way to go.
LCK: Yeah, that helps. I don’t know.
MM: What do you think is the closest that your character has come to finding love?
LCK: Well, Melissa Leo, even though their encounter was very brief, they were definitely a lot more alike than a lot of the other women he’s been around. Because, I don’t know, she reminds me of the girls I knew growing up outside of Boston. Girls outside of Boston are really tough, they smoke Parliaments, and they wear leather jackets, and they’ll beat the shit out of you. There’s one memory that she kind of comes from; like, she’s the grown version of this girl. I was going into a McDonald’s in Waltham, Massachusetts, and I was about 12 years old, and I held the door for a girl 12 years old coming in. And she looked at me because I was holding the door for her, and she said, “What are you, fucking polite?” With this disdain. And I was so startled and really turned on. My whole life, I’ve always kind of wanted to be with a girl that could kick the shit out of you.
MM: You are a pretty confident guy…
LCK: I’m doing pretty good. But it’s not just from succeeding; it’s really from surviving failures. When you succeed, you get a false confidence, a bravado. Like I did this thing and it worked. Well, a lot of the reasons it worked were luck, the right circumstances and other people’s decisions…
MM: So how do you get real confidence?
LCK: By doing stuff you are scared of doing, and not doing well at it, and realizing that it didn’t kill you, that you are still OK. If you’re not, then stop, don’t keep hurting yourself. But nothing ever hurt me so much that I wanted to quit. I would just feel some pain, and go, ‘OK.’ It’s like working out, it’s all pain. But if you see you are improving and you don’t mind the pain, and you actually find it rewarding, then you succeed at it. That’s all. You can’t just have it easy and have fun all the time. When you go through horrible and difficult things and you come out of it OK, that gives you confidence. Because then you can’t be beat. Success isn’t permanent. But right now, I’m doin’ great.
Everyone has a favorite Louie scene. This is one of ours.