By Michael Sarko
– The Capitol Hill Times –
Comedian Louis C.K. has, intentionally or not, turned the professional chuckle business on its head. He has made a wildly successful, critically acclaimed TV show about a surreal version of his own life, for one thing. He has also quietly eschewed standard practices in his industry by going online-exclusive for one of his recent stand-up specials and handling all ticket sales for his current U.S. tour. Louie came to Seattle on Dec. 20 and 21 to play packed shows at the Paramount Theatre, sporting new material that is some of the funniest and most endearing of his career.
Unusually tall stand-up Gary Gulman opened for C.K. with a set that came from his experiences in New York, but play fairly well to Seattle sensibilities. His main bit, concerning a run-in with an inconsiderate person at a Trader Joe’s, served as a good hors d’oeuvre to Louie’s examinations of human behavior.
More than his previous work, Louis C.K.’s material on this tour is about one-on-one interactions between people stuck in the pursuit (and often dearth) of sympathy. Whereas previous outings “Shameless” and “Chewed Up” focus on Louie’s anger with the outside world during the final months of his marriage, and 2011’s “Hilarious” chronicles his often difficult re-emergence into single life, his 2012 tour finds humor in more optimistic places. He preaches an enlightened arc of aging and encourages something between civility and tenderness for life around strangers, though not without going to some dark, gross places now and then. One bit in particular about an old lady and her equally ancient dog is weird and disturbing in some fantastically funny ways.
From here, Louis C.K. will be taking a break for the remainder of 2012, then will zig-zag across the country until he finishes at the Celebrity Theatre in Phoenix, Ariz. for the recording of his next special in February. The crowd in the desert may get to be immortalized on HBO, but those who gathered in Seattle got to live out the (fake, silly, joke-inspiring) apocalypse with Louie.