Calling tonight’s extended anecdote to open the episode involving the sweet moments Louie gets to share with his two adorable daughters a misdirection would be an understatement, considering it eventually spiraled into perhaps the most humiliating and vulgar account of his pathetic sex life to date. Most shows would never even consider butting up such contrasting storylines in the same episode.
Then again, most shows aren’t Louie.
“Telling Jokes/Set Up” contains most of the aspects of the show that I love so much — Louie in dad mode both at home and with his material at the Comedy Cellar, a guest spot from a comedian playing himself (Allan Havey), a guest spot from a respected actor playing wildly against type (in this case, Oscar-winner Melissa Leo), and Louie fighting through painfully embarrassing situations.
Though the two short stories have nothing to do with one another, in a way, it’s a great job encapsulating the entire scope of what Louie’s life has become in just one 22-minute installment.
Louie has proven over and over again that he’s a great dad, but the opening scene with Lily and Jane and subsequent commentary in his stand-up act shined a light on a very specific father-daughter moment that very few people could ever understand. As a comedian, Louie knows how jokes work, and even if he hasn’t heard one before, he basically knows how it will play out. But with his daughters’ creative yet warped seven- and 10-year old brains, the jokes they share bring a strange and unexpected joy to Louie, and as much as he loves the both of them, this is probably one of the first true bonding moments they have ever shared together.
With split-custody of the kids however, Louie is only a part-time dad, leaving the rest of his days still trying to figure out the 40s single life. Knowing the disappointment and humiliation he’s already been through during his most recent stint as a bachelor, he’s not even up for the challenge most of the time (Allan had to trick Louie into coming to dinner for the set up with Lori, Leo’s character), and it’s no surprise why he feels this way moments into the meal. Both characters feel uncomfortable with the obvious set up. Lori cuts her food like a madwoman, Louie asks questions that she has already answered, and Lori retorts with very little sense of manners.
But as soon as they break away from the stress of the overly-pushy married couple, the two hit it off. They go to a bar and exchange wise-cracks while dissing marriage and poking fun at each other. Lori is basically a female Louie, which becomes even more clear when she punctuates the date by claiming, “This is the most fun I’ve had in a long time, and the best part of it is I never have to see your face again!”
Feeling independent (and horny), Lori pulls over and offers to give Louie oral sex, which he accepts without reservation. But when it’s time for Louie to return the favor, he doesn’t want to do it, saying that’s an intimate thing that he doesn’t feel comfortable with, which results in a very funny Larry David-esque exchange regarding individual morals and values and what means what to who (filled with amazingly great vulgarities from Leo which really seemed to push the boundaries of what can be said on FX in the 10 o’clock hour).
Lori bets Louie 200 bucks that in three minutes he’ll be going down on her after all, which he confidently ups to $1,000 right before Lori tries to take a cheap shot at his ego by calling him gay. Louie’s usually not one to worry about his manhood, but it’s definitely getting under his skin. That alone probably wouldn’t cause him to cave, but after Lori punches him so hard against the window that the glass breaks and she mounts his face like a suction cup on a mirror, he succumbs to her borderline rape.
To call an episode of Louie strange or unique is pointless, and I promise I won’t go to that well with every recap. But the idiosyncratic nature of the way C.K. sets up his stories will always make them hypnotizing and addictive. At the end of an episode, sometimes I feel like Louie after his encounter with Lori — I’m drained, enlightened, and a little confused, but I’ll be back for more without hesitation.
– For clarification purposes, whenever I say ‘Louie’ in the recaps, I’m referring to the fictional character on the show, not that actual person (C.K.).
– Jane’s answer to the ‘Painter who?’ knock-knock joke: “The painter who painted both of you as mermaids, but instead of being underwater, it’s pee-pee.”
– Jane’s answer to the ‘Who told the gorilla that he couldn’t go to the ballet performance?’ joke: “Just the people who were in charge of that decision.”
– Good to see that Louie didn’t learn anything from last week’s accident and is still riding his motorcycle.
– The best of Leo’s foul mouth: “Strap on the feedbag.” “You know how many dicks I sucked that I didn’t want to suck?” “Your sperms are dying inside my mouth right now.” “Where are the gentleman? What is wrong with this county? Obama!” “I gotta say, this is balls.”