No offense to firefighters and doctors, but I probably have the toughest job in the world: trying to decide on Louis C.K.’s best joke—or bit or episode of Louie—ever. Talk about an impossible task. Even Batman couldn’t solve that riddle.
In a short amount of time, Louis has produced a body of comedy that is staggeringly good and original and diverse and enjoyable. Louis isn’t much for jokey jokes, but his 9/11 masturbation joke (look it up) is one for the ages. One-liners are definitely in his wheelhouse: “I’m 45 now, so I’m either halfway through a healthy life or almost done with a not-so-healthy life.” Young Louis pales before the awesomeness of middle-aged Louis, but he still had some gems. For example, his bit about how you’re better off being thought as crazy than stupid is timeless and true. His great bits are too numerous to mention, but I’m a fan of “duck vagina” and “suck a bag of dicks,” plus anything about his children or the joy of divorce. The masturbation episode of Louie is a clinic in how to combine crass humor with real insight into people (in this case, religious people) who are usually stereotyped. Real insight is kind of Louis’ thing.
There’s not much insight in this joke from the stand-up of portion Louie, but I love it dearly: “If I found myself alone on planet Earth, no other humans, I would have sex with a monkey in like two minutes.” Louis then chuckles to himself, repeating “Two minutes,” before adding: “That’s really not long enough to be sure you’re alone on the Earth.” Those are words to live by for anyone living in a post-human, monkey-filled, apocalyptic wasteland.
But for Louis’ Best Bit Ever, I’m going with a thing from Oh My God I was lucky enough to hear in person last year in Chicago. In contrast to his poor childhood—when his mother bought salt-less Saltines—Louis’ current building is ritzy, with “a pretty courtyard with flowers and a fountain with little marble boys pissing.” After an aside about pedophile fountain sculptors, Louis describes hanging out in his courtyard soon after moving in the building—and not looking very presentable. A spiffy-looking neighbor gave Louis the stink eye, suggesting he was some sort of wandering hobo or other filthy interloper. Then the neighbor came over, as Louis felt glee at the prospect of being in “a confrontation where I’m not wrong at all.”
As the accusatory neighbor confronted Louis, our hero tortured the perky neighbor in various ways, denying his residence and capitalism itself, before the neighbor turned to the doorman for help in kicking out this trespasser. Then the neighbor/jerk learned the truth—Louis really lived there—and his face contorted into “a cocktail of anger and confusion.” At that moment, Louis achieved a moment of true, orgasmic, spiteful, Larry Davidian bliss. After a final smackdown of the neighbor, Louis summed up the story: “He didn’t say anything after that, because, uh, well, the whole thing didn’t really happen.”
Wow. Now that’s a punch line.
It turns out the story was true as far as sloppy Louis hanging out in his courtyard and getting the evil eye from a posh neighbor—but our unreliable narrator made the rest up in his head. Louis claims, interestingly, that, “It’s not true, but it’s as true as anything that does happen.” And he makes a classic admission: “It’s hard to lose an argument when you’re both people, and it’s taking place in your brain.” The final punch line to the bit is that the neighbor ended up welcoming Louis to the building and is now his friend George, underling the absurdity of the fake confrontation and the jerkishness of Louis’ brain.
I wish to hell I didn’t relate to this bit so much, but I can’t tell you how many times a day I imagine a similar circumstance in which I am the brave, witty hero who vanquishes the barely human sociopaths littering my world. For example, I was recently walking my dog, and he was sniffing a building. Some guy on the porch was looking at me for a second before saying, “Please don’t let your dog pee there.” Then I said, “Oh, this building is off-limits for pooch pee? But not every other building? OK. I’ll make a note and let the rest of the dog community know.” Of course, none of that happened, and my dog didn’t even pee, but just like Louis, I wrote an entire mean-spirited scene in my head where I could be the hero. Ugh.
Louis’ routine was a mind-blower to me, because it showed me: 1) Lots of people probably spin the same kind of crap in their heads; 2) Such self-aggrandizing nonsense is sort of hilarious; and 3) I’d probably be a lot happier if I focused on what’s actually happening and stopped fighting stupid imaginary battles in my brain. Also, why am I assuming the worst of absolutely everyone? What the hell is wrong with me?
This is an impressive bit. It not only makes me laugh; it makes me re-examine my entire essence, particularly the non-mindful, petty, crappy state of my mind. Louis makes me laugh at my stupid brain and want to improve it at the same time. Thanks, Louis. You’re a helluva life coach.