Louis C.K. is a longtime working comedian who has given many hilarious soundbites to us, and they are often ones that lampoon every aspect of being a parent and having children. A single dad in real life, he often uses his daughters and his struggles as a parent as material for both standup and his television shows. Louis C.K. the show is in fact based off his life, about single parenthood and all the stress, confusion, mistakes, hilarity and love that comes with it. Let’s take a closer look at the man behind the madness.
The Life of Louis C.K.
Funnyman Louis C.K. was born Louis Szekely on September 12, 1967, in Washington, D.C. Louis’ father is Luis, of Mexican and Hungarian descent, and Louis’ mother, Mary, of Irish Catholic descent. Luis and Mary met while studying at Harvard University.
After C.K.’s birth, his family moved to Mexico City, and then later to Massachusetts when he was 7. His parents divorced when he was young, and his mother raised a total of four children in Newton, Massachusetts. In Louis’ online biography, it says “he became inspired to work in television after seeing his mother come home after a long day at work, only to have lackluster TV programs to choose from.” He graduated from Newton South High School and worked as an auto mechanic before finally moved to New York City in 1989, where it all began. And for his first comedy gig? At 17, C.K. tried stand-up comedy at an open mic in Boston, with three minutes worth of material.
Louis C.K. Stakes His Claim in the Comedy World
Louis C.K. arrived in New York looking to do stand-up comedy and found that he had just missed the boom. Clubs in Manhattan were going out of business and it was hard to find work. C.K. found himself playing to clubs with a handful of people and practiced in empty spaces.
Louis C.K. auditioned and didn’t make the cut for Saturday Night Live. In his 20s, C.K. was broke and struggling, his dreams out of reach. He also experienced a serious motorcycle accident and struggled with money. But slowly, things began to turn around. In 1993, he worked as a writer on Late Night with Conan O’Brien, as a co-writer of Conan’s very first sketch.
Louis C.K. and Conan
Around 20 years after Late Night with Conan O’Brien aired its first show with Conan at the helm as the talk show host, Louis C.K. stopped by O’Brien’s show as a guest. C.K. was on O’Brien’s very first writing staff and co-wrote the first show.
Louis C.K. was 25 years old when he met Conan O’Brien, so both were young and feisty comedians. During Louis C.K.’s recent time as a guest, the two remembered when C.K. would openly yell at O’Brien during disagreements about material. For example, C.K. once wrote a slavery joke that O’Brien didn’t want to perform, but did, and then was booed. They also talked about the time C.K. once got so angry during a writer’s meeting that he ran from the room, crying!
Lucky Louie is Created
Louis C.K. created, wrote, starred in and executive produced his first show, which aired on HBO for one season in 2006. C.K. played the main character, a part-time mechanic at a muffler shop.
Lucky Louie was the first HBO show filmed before a live studio audience, with a multiple-camera setup. Similar to the famous show Roseanne, Lucky Louie deals with the daily life of a blue collar, working family, and touched on some serious subjects such as racism and intimate relationships. The show had many guest comedians and used foul language. Only 12 episodes aired before the show was canceled, due to low viewership.
After Lucky Louie Came Shameless
After they stopped shooting the first season of Lucky Louie, no one knew if the show was getting picked up or canceled. Louis C.K. used that time to develop a comedy routine, knowing that if the show was canceled, he’d need to have another income source, and would need to keep himself busy. It turned out the show was canceled, so Louis C.K. went on the road, touring his show called Shameless, which became an HBO special.
Louis C.K. toured for three years all over the English-speaking world doing the Shameless routine and enjoying himself and making good money. The HBO special was well-received and he earned a great reputation so that by the time he went to Hollywood, a lot of people wanted him to make a show.
Marriage, the Reason We are Gathered Here Together
Louis C.K. and Alix Bailey were married for thirteen years before they divorced. They met as very young twenty-somethings, years before C.K. became well-known for anything. This is the only photo of Alix Bailey available on the internet, and it is of her as a young woman when she first met her future husband, Louis C.K.
Louis C.K. (his original name was Szekely) was teaching himself some film-making by creating short and strange black-and-white films. A couple of them starred Alix Bailey, and this photo of her is actually a still from one of those movies that they created together. Their kids will enjoy watching that some day!
The Creation of Louie
In 2010, Louis C.K. created the show that changed his life and became a hit: Louie. The show is a half-hour long, airs on FX, and features a stripped-down aesthetic and budget. FX gave Louis C.K. an unheard of amount of creative control, basically letting him do whatever he wanted to do unless the show bombed, which it didn’t.
The New Yorker wrote of the show, “For the first two seasons Louis C.K. wrote, directed, edited and starred in every episode and was also the music director. The result was a series that, despite its small audience, has had a broad influence, upending notions of what a sitcom can be.”
“Everything Is Amazing, Nobody’s Happy”
When Louis C.K. went on Conan to chat, he had no idea that his material planned for that guest spot would end up going mega-viral, spreading through the internet with the clicking and clacking of people hitting share on their keyboards. What he said resonated with people.
Here’s part of his clip, “Well yea ‘cause now we live in an amazing, amazing world and it’s wasted on the crappiest generation of just spoiled idiots that don’t care, because this is what people are like now – they’ve got their phone and they’re like ‘uh! It won’t…’ Give it a second! Give – it’s going to space! Can you give it a second to get back from space!?”
Louis C.K. on Cell Phones
Louis C.K. went on Conan a second time as a guest and ended up with another viral hit, this time on his opinion of cells phones. More to the point, he spoke about why he won’t let either of his daughters own one.
Louis C.K. said on the topic, “And sometimes when things clear away, you’re not watching anything, you’re in your car, and you start going, ‘Oh no, here it comes. That I’m alone.’ It starts to visit on you. Just this sadness. Life is tremendously sad, just by being in it…That’s why we text and drive. I look around, pretty much 100 percent of the people driving are texting. And they’re killing, everybody’s murdering each other with their cars. But people are willing to risk taking a life and ruining their own because they don’t want to be alone for a second because it’s so hard.”
Louis C.K. Names the Next Big Thing in Comedy: Samantha Bee
In an interview with Vulture, Louis C.K. touted comedian Samantha Bee as the next big comedian and as someone who is nailing her material in a unique way.
Here’s what C.K. says about Bee, “She’s surprising. She’s angry. This is the new thing with her: She’s not smug. All of these guys, even Jon Stewart, who’s a fucking genius, he would get upset but he always stayed cool. Guys like to be a little above it. They like to be in control. Even after ranting, they suddenly calm down and smile. But Samantha doesn’t do that. She’s really [expletive] mad! She’s like, Yes, I am a [expletive] feminist! She’s right about everything that I see her talk about. She’s by far the most interesting as far as, here’s my take on this shit that everybody else is chewing on.”
Acclaim for Louie
Louis C.K.’s show Louie has been widely critically acclaimed. The AVClub said Louie was, “the next evolution for the series sitcom.” HuffPost TV critic Maureen Ryan called it “the best comedy on television.”
Well known (and respected) critic Emily Nussbaum of The New Yorker said Louie was “a revelation.” The website What Culture named it the best show of the last decade! Vogue called Louie one of the best shows on television, as did Business Insider. Louie belongs is the best of comedy and drama because it, “often succeeds as both,” says Verne Gay at Newsday. The Week writes, “Even when there’s no obvious punch line, Louie is extremely effective, grade-A viewing.”
Horace and Pete
Louis C.K.’s newest series takes place in an Irish bar, Horace and Pete’s, focusing on the people who work and drink there. C.K., as usual with his projects, writes and directed the series, as well as stars as Horace, the man who runs the bar a year after the death of his father. Other cast members are Steve Buscemi, Edie Falco, Alan Alda, and Jessica Lange, among others. Laurei Metcalf earned an Emmy nomination for Best Guest Actress.
Originally, Louis C.K. sold episodes of the show on his website, and at first, it was thought to be a financial failure. He sold the ten episodes made so far to Hulu for their streaming services. “I made it all back with people buying it,” C.K. told critic Emily Nussbaum. “It made back everything, and it’s going on a service, a thing.” (He was referring to Hulu.)
Louis C.K. on His Daughters
Louis C.K. has two daughters from his marriage with artist Alix Bailey, named Mary (the oldest) and Kitty (the younger, with red hair). His daughters aren’t like their screen counterparts, C.K. says because they are actually well behaved and calm.
C.K. told Vulture, “My kids and I share the same sense of humor. It’s not like they’re some preacher’s kids — they’re my children. They know what it means to exaggerate a feeling to an insane amount. They think it’s funny when I yell about how frustrating they are because they know that in reality, we have a great time at home.” C.K.’s custody agreements means that the parents each have the kids for half the week, and he refuses to work during that time, focusing on his daughters instead.
C.K. on Feminism
Louis C.K. has been touted as a feminist at times, for the divergent women on his shows as well as some of his comedy. His joke, “the No. 1 threat to women being men and the No. 1 threat to men is heart disease,” is often mentioned, for example.
When asked in an interview with Vulture if he identifies as a feminist, C.K. responded, “I don’t feel strongly enough about anything to give myself a label. My daughter is a feminist and I identify with her, with her rights and her feelings, and I’m listening to her. I’m learning from her. But I think the second you say ‘I am this,’ you’ve stopped listening and learning.”
Louis C.K. Controversy
The only true controversy of Louis C.K.’s career (at least, publically) was brought about after comedienne Jen Kirkman did a podcast on her blog in which she stated that a famous comedian was a “known [expletive]” and while he didn’t assault her, “he made a certain difficult decision to go on tour with him really hard.” Other unsubstantiated stories about C.K. exposing himself to women comics have made the rounds through sites like Death and Taxes and through comedienne Rosanne Barr, who has called out to C.K. to respond to the allegations.
Louis C.K. said in an interview, in response to the allegations, “Well, you can’t touch stuff like that. There’s one more thing I want to say about this, and it’s important: If you need your public profile to be all positive, you’re sick in the head. I do the work I do, and what happens next I can’t look after. So my thing is that I try to speak to the work whenever I can. Just to the work and not to my life.”
Louis C.K. on Fame
Louis C.K. is now a world-famous comedic actor who has created three television shows and produced numerous comedy specials. What does C.K. think about being famous? He tells Conan during one of his interviews on the show.
“I like being normal, just a member of the community. Being famous kind of sets you apart from people. People recognize you and I don’t want them to because I like to observe people,” he said to Conan. “When people notice me, it ruins it. Like going to see Jaws, and the shark turns and goes ‘Oh it’s that comedian guy,’ it kind of ruins it.”
Louis C.K. on Being Broke
“You have insufficient funds, the banks says. Yeah, I agree with that,” he says in his comedy act. “I’m not being broke to [explentive] with you. I’m not trying to be an [expletive], I’m just broke. They charge me $15 for only having $20!”
“You ever have negative funds? I got to raise money to be broke. I wish I had nothing!” he goes on. “When you are rich the bank pays you to be rich. If you have a lot of money they give you money. I live in New York and you can’t get along with no money in New York. I have to put a foot in my tub to use the toilet! This place is so tiny.”
Louis C.K. on Jay Leno’s Show
Once, as Louis C.K. was interviewed on Jay Leno’s show, he started to get real deep. He talked about his father, about family member relationships, about connecting with human beings, and how all of that comes into play when he’s performing comedy in front of an audience. Basically, he gets into how weird it is to be a human. He then went into talking about his kids getting his money. In typical Louis fashion, of course.
About money, he said, “Why should my kids get the money? I did the shows. I don’t believe in it. I think raising your kids rich is the worst thing you can do- or more for the people they will come in contact with later in life,” he says about saving money for his daughters. “It’s why the world is a little messed up because until like a minute ago historically, the rule was that if the kid dies, the kid gets to rule the nation! The kid has been living in a castle and [expletive] chambermaids, let’s let him run the country. I don’t believe in that.”
Louis C.K. on Jimmy Fallon’s Show
Like he does, Louis tossed out some funny commentary about being a dad while being interviewed on Fallon’s show. “I got my kids for NYE and I told them they could stay up till midnight but I’ll turn the clocks back and put them to bed at eight and go get some [expletive]. You asked me what I was doing!” Can you imagine if he was your dad?
Fallon then asked him about how he feels about his fame, and Louis said, “I’m not accustomed to it. I’ve been doing this 27 years and a good 23 of them were terrible,” he told Fallon. “The good times will always be far outweighed by the terrible and it will end badly, too. Whenever you see a guy and he was great, you see him when he’s older and you’re like ohhh. It’s like a train wreck, you can’t look away.”
Louis C.K. Now
Louis C.K. is still touring now, and rumors are that he could be working on more episodes of Horace and Pete. Meanwhile, here are some classic Louis C.K. quotes.
“When you first get married, you have a relationship that’s so important to you, and you’re working on it together. But then you have a kid. And you look at your kid and you go, “Holy [expletive], this is my child. She has my DNA. She has my name. I would die for her.” And you look at your spouse and go, “Who the [expletive] are you? You’re a stranger.” Shameless, 2007 “The meal is not over when I’m full. The meal is over when I hate myself.” Chewed Up, 2008