Louis CK: Chewed Up
Show type: Edinburgh Fringe 2008
A master at creating an atmosphere of fearless honesty on stage. His exploration of life after 40 lays to waste politically correct images of marriage, children, sex and race with stories that we have all lived. It's the realities of life that have left Louis feeling chewed up
At last, comedy for grown ups. There’s been a long wait for the next grumpy old man to come along, we’ve known and loved Rich Hall and Jack Dee for a long time – now there’s a new old kid on the block.
Bostonian Louis CK has a great, bassy compelling voice, a solid presence and a direct, unsentimental manner. He front-loads the set with faggot, cock, cunt and ‘the N word’ material, but with such warmth and precision that there can be no offence taken.
He shares the vocabulary of the shock comics, but has so much more in his range and his approach. At 40 he’s hardly an elder statesman, but he absolutely a master craftsman. There’s tremendous skill in talking about how great it is to be white without sounding like an horrendous Klan member, but Louis CK does it, teasing the audience’s unease with the premise.
He doesn’t strain for edgy topics, no woodland animal nonsense and contrived surrealism here. This is comedy of the everyday, raising kids, divorce, fat Americans, even the perennial air travel gets a note, but here’s the trick; it sounds fresh, the angles are new and illuminating.
The sheer joie de vivre in his use of language, vivid, economical and pungent had the Soho audience gasping for breath between laughter and delight. The stage seems full of characters, without going for manic impressions, as he reprises tetchy exchanges with an arrogant three year old, a lazy harassed doctor and a pithily politically acute phone conversation between spoiled America and an outsourced call centre.
He simply leaves most comics who’ve approached similar topics in the dust. There’s not a word wasted, the pace is brisk and engaging and unlike many, he doesn’t do shouting and bawling to fake energy. Top stuff.
Reviewed by: Julia Chamberlain
Soho Theatre, London