Season 2: Yet again just a brilliant mix of the uneasy and the hilarious with sketches that seem like anything but
I'm not sure if it ever was really true but certainly there was/is a feeling that Americans as a rule cannot do a comedy of misery, of tragedy or of frustration whereas the British excel at it. It isn't a matter of UK good, US bad, it just always felt that way partly because of the national psyches of those two peoples – the US being very much about the possibilities and the American Dream and all things being possible in this best of all possible worlds whereas the British are endlessly aware of their fading relevance and power in the world; so naturally downbeat and depressing comedies come more naturally – so of course David Brent is a British comedian in an hilariously downbeat British comedy. Recent years though have more and more shown this is not the case.
I'm not sure if there has been a change or if it is just coming through more in the mainstream, but there are several American comedies now that really capture that sense of frustration, sense of the small, sense of the impossible banality and I think Louie is probably the best of them. I loved the first season of this show so much that I wondering if this wonderfully high standard can be maintained – having just finished the second season I felt that it was more than the equal to the first season and that it continued to capture this really uneasy world of comedy that CK operates in.
As before we have long "sketches" that don't fit any sort of sketch show you've seen before – it isn't about comedy characters or about start/middle/punch line – at times there may not even be a laugh to be had, but yet all of them are interesting and funny. I struggled to describe and define it the first time and I will do again here. His stand-up sections are all pretty hilarious but the meat of the show is in the segments outside of these that throw up some "real-life" truths about being neighbours, about being a parent, about relationships, about the nature of life and so on – if it sounds pretentious it is because it could easily be and it is to his credit that it never is. It is brutal, upsetting and hilarious throughout and I love it.
I'm happy to wait for more material from Louis CK, because he just feels like someone who knows what he is doing and what he wants to do so well that rushing may risk disturbing his balance, but season 2 only confirms to me how good he is at the moment. Next time one of my fellow Brits bemoans American comedy as being crude or loud and that they can't do more downbeat material, I'll simply point them to this as their starting point.
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