Louis C.K. at Riverside Theater
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When Louis C.K. last paid Milwaukee a visit, the veteran comic was riding high on the wings of his well-received specials and promising new FX series. Two years later, C.K.’s career is still on the uptick, thanks to both critical and audience acclaim for the aforementioned TV series he writes, directs, and stars in, as well as trailblazing the now-industry-standard practice of self-releasing specials online. Somewhere between the groundbreaking show, the latest special, and serving as a respected vessel to his comic brethren, the now-legendary funnyman found time to write over an hour of new material—which he masterfully put on display Wednesday night, in the first of three sold-out Riverside Theater shows this week.
Casually stepping on stage after opener William Stephenson received his well-earned applause, C.K. thanked the crowd (which already felt his gratitude, in having their service fees waived through exclusive ticket sales on the comic’s site) and marched ably into 90 minutes of self-deprecation and brash observations of humanity. Beginning with a story of losing a game of “decency chicken” and having to assist a fallen and confused elderly women (whom he estimated to be a 15-time refugee), C.K. set the tone for a night of vivid-portraits of human interaction. The musings touched on a myriad of things, including the sensitivity of the male elbow, why people over 40 are smarter than those under 40, why “brains are kind of shitty,” and the fact that men “love tits more than we are good people.”
In something of a reprise of his famed “everything is amazing and nobody cares” routine of yore, C.K. railed on our camera-phone obsessed society, saying, “You know, when you put that thing down, the resolution is unbelievable.” Similarly, he emphasized to an unappreciative society why even a basic life is a great deal, citing reasons like “You get to put shit in the top-hole, like caramel and bacon!” and “You get to fuck people! That’s free, if you’re smart.”
Much of C.K.’s set was, thankfully, hinged on his shameless self-hatred, which transitioned seamlessly from his gracious-sounding explanation of divorced life to a side-splitting retelling of getting high on weed he’d kept in a shoe since the ’90s, and his proposed “it gets better” YouTube video for kids who are “vaguely-heavy with no face.”
Somewhat expectedly from a comic with few qualms about casually discussing rape and using a mic stand as a visual aid for a bit about child murder, C.K. carried the laughs down the homestretch with examples of his “Of course...but maybe” logic—which quickly escalated from his feelings on nut allergies and the troops all the way to slavery in a matter of moments. Though the laughs never ceased, the-ever-emboldened C.K. justified his comments, saying, “You clapped for a dead kid before. We’re in this together now,” before sending the satisfied audience into a standing ovation and happily on its way.