Louis Szekely (born September 12, 1967) known professionally as Louis C.K./ / is an American Emmy and Grammy Award-winning stand-up comedian, television and film writer, producer, director, and actor. He is the creator, star, writer, director, and, until February 2012, the editor of the FX comedy series Louie.
Early life and career
C.K.'s stage name is derived from an approximate English pronunciation of his Hungarian surname, Székely (Hungarian pronunciation: [ˈseːkɛj]). C.K. was born in Washington, D.C., the son of Mary Louise (née Davis), a software engineer, and Luis Szekely, an economist. C.K.'s paternal grandfather, a Hungarian Jew, emigrated to Mexico, where he met C.K.'s paternal grandmother, who was a Catholic Mexican of Spanish and Mexican Indian ancestry. C.K.'s father was born in Mexico, while C.K.'s mother is an American of Irish Catholic ancestry, originally from a farm in Michigan. The two met at Harvard University while his mother was completing her degree in a summer-school program. Although C.K. was born in D.C., he lived in Mexico City until the age of seven. His first language is Spanish, and he still retains Mexican citizenship.
Upon moving from Mexico to suburban Boston, Massachusetts, C.K. decided he wanted to become a writer and comedian, citing Bill Cosby, Richard Pryor, Steve Martin, and George Carlin as some of his influences. When he was 10 years old, his parents divorced. He and his three siblings were raised by their single mother in Newton, Massachusetts. His mother's watching bad TV inspired him to work with television. "I remember thinking in fifth grade, 'I have to get inside that box and make this shit better'" he told The Observer in April 2005, "because she deserves this. It made me mad that the shows were so bad."
After graduating from Newton North High School, C.K. worked as an auto mechanic and at a public access TV cable station in Boston, while summoning the courage to try stand-up. His first attempt was in 1984 at a comedy club's open-mic night; he was given five minutes of time, but had only two minutes of material. The experience kept him away from comedy for two years. He and Marc Maron reminisced about their early careers and friendship on Maron’s WTF Podcast. C.K. gradually moved up to paid gigs, opening for Jerry Seinfeld and hosting comedy clubs until he moved to Manhattan in 1989.
C.K.'s credits as a writer include the Late Show with David Letterman, Late Night with Conan O'Brien, The Dana Carvey Show and The Chris Rock Show. His work for The Chris Rock Show was nominated for an Emmy Award three times, winning "Best Writing in a Variety or Comedy Series" in 1999. He was also nominated for an Emmy Award for his work writing for Late Night with Conan O'Brien. The feature film born from the Chris Rock sketches, Pootie Tang, which C.K. wrote and directed, received largely negative reviews from critics but has become a cult classic. Though C.K. is credited as the director, he was fired at the end of filming and calls the film a "very huge mistake" that "never should have been made." He also wrote and directed the independent black-and-white film Tomorrow Night (1998) (which premiered at Sundance) and several shorter films, including six short films for the sketch comedy show Sunny Skies (1995) on the Showtime cable network. He was nominated for an Emmy Award for writing on his 2008 special, Chewed Up. He won two Emmys in 2011 for the Louie episode "Pregnant" and for his special Live at the Beacon Theater.
Louis C.K. first took the stage in 1984 at an open-mic in Boston, Massachusetts, during the apex of the comedy boom. He was so discouraged by the experience that he didn't perform again for two years. As Boston's comedy scene grew, he gradually achieved success, performing alongside acts such as Denis Leary and Lenny Clarke.
C.K. has performed his stand-up frequently on shows such as Late Show with David Letterman, Late Night with Conan O'Brien, Lopez Tonight, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, and Jimmy Kimmel Live!. In August 2005, C.K. starred in a half-hour HBO special as part of the stand-up series One Night Stand.
Inspired by the work ethic of George Carlin, the comedian who had committed to dropping all of his existing material and starting over every year, C.K. launched his first hour-long special titled Shameless in 2007, which aired on HBO and was later released on DVD. In March 2008, he recorded a second hour-long special, Chewed Up, which premiered on Showtime Network on October 4, 2008, and went on to be nominated for an Emmy for "Outstanding Writing in a Comedy or Variety Special."
On April 18, 2009, Louis recorded a concert film titled Hilarious. Unlike his previous specials, which had all been produced for television networks, Hilarious was produced independently, directed by C.K. himself, and sold to Epix and Comedy Central after it was complete. Because of this it was not released until late 2010, and published on DVD and CD in 2011. It is the first stand-up comedy film to be accepted into Sundance.
In a 2010 interview, C.K. described returning to stand-up and doing specials after his divorce as a year and a half working "to catch up to" the breakup of his marriage which, although portrayed in the HBO series Lucky Louie as fractious, had nonetheless been central to the show and his life. One element in his preparation for stand-up was training in the boxing gym, including with Lowell, Massachusetts fighter Micky Ward, trying to "learn how to ... do the grunt work and the boring, constant training so that you'll be fit enough to take the beating."
On December 10, 2011, Louis C.K. released his fourth full-length special, Live at the Beacon Theater. Like Hilarious, it was produced independently and directed by C.K., but unlike his earlier work, it was distributed digitally on the comedian's website, forgoing both physical and broadcast media. C.K. released the special digital rights management-free for $5.00, hoping these factors and the direct relationship between the artist and consumer would effectively deter piracy. The end of the film also mentions the release of a new album, recorded at Carnegie Hall the previous year. As of December 21, 2011, the sales of the special from C.K.'s website has earned him over $1 million. The success of the special prompted other comedians, including Jim Gaffigan and Aziz Ansari, to release their own specials with a similar business model. On May 11, 2012, C.K. additionally made two audio-only downloads available for $5.00 each: WORD – Live at Carnegie Hall (and the audio version of his first HBO stand-up special, Shameless), as well as an audio-only version of Live at the Beacon Theater.
C.K.'s fifth one-hour special, Oh My God, premiered on HBO April 13. C.K. will release the special on his website for $5.00 in September 2013 in the same fashion as Live at the Beacon, which was released a few months after it was aired.
Acting, writing, and directing
In June 2006, C.K. starred in Lucky Louie, a sitcom he created. The series premiered on HBO and was videotaped in front of a live studio audience; it was HBO's first series in that format. Lucky Louie is described as a bluntly realistic portrayal of family life. HBO canceled the series after its first season. Other roles include a security guard in Role Models and a potential love interest for Amy Poehler's character in a multi-episode story arc on NBC's Parks and Recreation.
In August 2009, FX picked up his new series Louie, which C.K. stars in, writes, directs and sometimes edits. The show features his stand-up routines blended with segments based somewhat on his offstage experiences. The show premiered on June 29, 2010. Each season of Louie contains 13 episodes. The series has been renewed for a fourth season. It addresses life as a divorced, aging father: "It's hard to start again after a marriage," he states in one of his early routines on the show. "It's hard to really, like, look at somebody and go, hey, maybe something nice will happen.... Or you'll meet the perfect person, who you love infinitely, and you even argue well, and you grow together, and you have children, and then you get old together, and then she's going to die. That's the best-case scenario." In season three, episodes dealt with a date with an unstable bookshop clerk Liz (played by Parker Posey), a doomed attempt to replace a retiring David Letterman, an aborted visit to his estranged father, and a dream-reality New Year's Eve episode in which Louie ends up in China. All of these made critic Matt Zoller Seitz's top 25 comedy episodes list for 2012. Actor-director David Lynch, who appeared in the Letterman episodes, came to seem to Seitz to be receiving a "fan's tribute" from CK in "New Year's Eve." The episode was "truly audacious," leaving the viewer "unmoored, uncertain what to trust, or how to see" and "captur[ing] the sensation of dreaming better than any half-hour comedy episode I’ve ever watched."
C.K. has been nominated twice for a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series (2011 and 2012) for Louie.
C.K. is a frequent guest on the Opie and Anthony radio show, which also features his Lucky Louie co-star Jim Norton, and was also a part of Opie and Anthony's Traveling Virus Comedy Tour with other comedians in 2007. He makes frequent appearances on Raw Dog Comedy on Sirius XM Satellite Radio, and in 2007 hosted a three-hour phone-in show on the service at the request of Opie & Anthony, during which he advised callers on their relationship troubles. As of May 2011, Louis has hosted over 107 hours of radio with Opie & Anthony. In the episode "Barney / Never", Opie, Anthony and Norton (along with comedian Amy Schumer) play the on-air talent of a stereotypical wacky morning radio program in Kansas City into which Louis's character is calling to promote a nearby gig.
During an interview with Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld on the Opie and Anthony radio show, C.K. asked Rumsfeld whether he is in fact a reptilian space alien who "eats the poor". Rumsfeld declined to comment. The video has since gone viral.
He is also an occasional guest on the Bob and Tom radio show which is a popular showcase for comedians and he frequently works with Robert Smigel on TV Funhouse shorts exclusively for Saturday Night Live, with topics ranging from politics to surrealism. C.K. hosted Saturday Night Live on November 3, 2012.
C.K. married Alix Bailey in 1995; they divorced in 2008. He has two daughters from the marriage and shares joint custody. Raised Catholic, he occasionally pokes fun at religion in his comedy, and says he has "zero idea how everything got here."
- The Short Films of Louis C.K. (2000) (DVD; out of print)
- Live in Houston (2001) (CD; out of print)
- One Night Stand (2005) (DVD)
- Shameless (2007) (DVD/Digital Download)
- Chewed Up (2008) (CD/DVD)
- Hilarious (2010/2011) (TV) (CD/DVD)
- Live at the Beacon Theater (2011) (Digital Download)
- WORD: Live at Carnegie Hall (2012) (Audio) (Digital Download)
- Louis C.K.: Oh My God - Phoenix, AZ (2013)
|1998||Tomorrow Night||Screenwriter / Director|
|2001||Down to Earth||Screenwriter|
|Pootie Tang||Screenwriter / Director|
|2007||I Think I Love My Wife||Screenwriter|
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- Tomorrow Night (1998) – Release dates
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- Pabst Theater Show Gallery, http://pabsttheater.org/_galleries/louisck_pabst_041809/louisck.html
- IMDb Hilarious Page, http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1421373/
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- CK's tweet
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- Seitz, Matt Zoller, "On Louie, ‘New Year’s Eve,’ and Respecting the Mystery", New York, 12/31/12. Retrieved 2013-01-01.
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- "Louis C.K. Reddit AMA". Advance Publications.
- "Sony Pictures Classics Acquires Woody Allen's Blue Jasmine". Sony Pictures. January 8, 2013. Retrieved January 9, 2013.
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