By Matthew E. Owen, Contributing Movie and TV Critic for SatelliteWerx.com
Louis C.K. is arguably one of the most consistent, hilarious comedians working today. Starting out with stand-up comedy, Louis C.K. has expanded his comedic endeavors to television. Those who may have missed his stand-up routines have probably glimpsed the aging apologetic in his FX series, Louie. He’s also lent his voice to some animations as well, along with appearing in feature films. It’s not hard to say that Louis C.K. is an American comedian through and through, and has been rather successful in his career. It’s been 2 years since he released a stand-up routine, so fans were rather eager to laugh aloud at his new Netflix special, Louis C.K.: 2017. I consider myself a fan of Louis’, so I considered myself just as eager. 2 years later, does Louis C.K. still have the mojo?
WATCH Louis C.K. 2017 Official Netflix Trailer
Louis C.K.: 2017 is similar in tone to his 2015 special, Live at the Comedy Store. His often apologetic and nervous demeanor can seem a bit overplayed, but never comes off as cartoonish. Although the style remains the same, 2017 has a lot more topical content than I’ve seen before. Louis opens up his special with a bang, likening abortion to using the bathroom. It’s not hard to see that Louis intends to push some buttons with his routine, but also make some important commentary.
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While abortion is a hot button issue, it’s just one of many that Louis covers in his hour-long delivery. In general, Louis C.K. has never been known as a “lighthearted” comedian. He’s essentially the polar opposite of people like Jim Gaffigan, often highlighting that which is dreary rather than jovial. Likening Louis C.K. to comedic greats like George Carlin is easy after all these years, and especially simple after watching 2017. Like many great comedians, Louis is able to draw bellowing laughter and crying fits from even the most dire and depressing topics. In fact, 2017 is pretty jam packed with content that is less than cheery.
The special is expertly paced, never seeming to dwell too long on a topic unless intended. Louis bounces back and forth from controversial topic to topic, like a game of politically incorrect pinball. If the abortion opener didn’t make you feel uncomfortable (at least a bit), the rest of the special definitely will. Despite his timid and expectant style, Louis is unabashed in touching on even the darkest of subjects. “Killing yourself solves all your problems. You don’t need to do anything, you can just kill yourself. That works, once.” I’m paraphrasing, but this excerpt from midway through the show displays Louis’ lack of fear in approaching the morbid.
Louis C.K. On The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon – March 2017
Between being disappointed with abused rescue dogs (but not in the way you think), begging people to leave their dead parents alone, and arguing that women have the right to kill infant children, 2017 is both borderline offensive and outright hilarious. It’s Louis’ mastery with toeing the line that proves his comedic prowess.
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In a nutshell, 2017 feels like a distinct combination of social commentary and the true nature of a man approaching his later years. Louis C.K. is fed up, annoyed, and confused. I would never say that Louis C.K. is in the realm of “dad humor”, but it carries undertones of it. Apparent in a bit about how the film Magic Mike sparks dormant homosexual feelings for Louis, he comes off incredibly honest and true. Part confession, part conversation, Louis C.K.: 2017 is a gut-busting hour of comedy that will also make you think. Approach the special knowing that it gets rather dark, and I’m sure you’ll have a good time. Those who aren’t fans of Louis C.K. won’t have a renewed sense of appreciation after viewing, but may find some redemptive qualities after all. Like the old adage goes, “misery loves company.” Louis C.K. definitely shows off his misery in 2017, but also displays his ability to make an audience laugh in spite of it.