Size matters

Mark Maier has a triple dose of Louis CK in various venues

To catch the subtle tics, the smirks, the raising of a contemptuous eyebrow in the vast cavern that is the O2 Arena, is nigh on impossible.

I had seen Louis CK, reputedly the best stand-up on the planet, a few years back at the Soho Theatre and the close proximity of the comedian to the audience perfectly complemented the intimacy of his performance.

On Wednesday I saw him in the O2, and last night at the Hammersmith Apollo – which was the best by far of all three venues. Best in terms of seeing him. And a better show as he was even funnier than I had remembered.

There’s a calmness to his act that doesn’t suit the vast runway of an arena stage. A pair of 80ft screens cannot do justice to every facial expression, brilliantly choreographed to each pitch-perfect routine. And the echo of his New York bark reverberated round this enormous cavern of a venue like an aftershock.

Louis CK’s opening line as he wandered on stage spoke volumes. ‘What the fuck? This is crazy!’ The all important instant rapport had been made.

Although the material was largely the same at both nights this week, I laughed much more at the Apollo gig. Ambling about the stage, throwing out a seemingly random selection of disconnected thoughts, he seemed so much more at home. His smile sat more comfortably, as did his audience. There was no vague sense of us kind of enjoying ourselves. He saw our reaction and fed off it.

It takes a very special comedian to have an entire audience howling at the idea of killing your own kids. Or that perhaps slavery had its plus points. From the ‘shit’ness of goldfish’ to flushing a dog down a toilet, he was effortlessly brilliant.

We were rebuked for wincing at some of his ‘more outrageous’ suggestions and not at others. ‘Hey you don’t get to cherry pick,’ he remonstrated. ‘You’re all with me on this journey!’ And he was right. We all were. All 3,500 of us. Deliriously happy with the intimacy of a venue that he had complete control of, rather than one that had somehow, controlled him.

Published: 22 Mar 2013

We see you are using AdBlocker software. Chortle relies on advertisers to fund this website so it’s free for you, so we would ask that you disable it for this site. Our ads are non-intrusive and relevant. Help keep Chortle viable.