Excuse Us, We Are Experiencing Technical Difficulties...
Louis CK's new HBO show arrives
by Gaëtan L. Charlebois
From the first moments of Louis CK's new special, Oh My God, now in rotation on HBO, I wondered what seemed off and by the end of the show knew what it was.
Completely apart from the material CK offers, huge mistakes were made in the production of the piece that tamped down any impact the show had. First off was the decision to record it in Phoenix, Arizona, ground-zero of American ass-holiness (guns, immigrants - name the cause and they're on the wrong side). Now there is no doubt CK has his fans in virtually every major centre in the English-speaking world and it was in one of the others where this should have been taped. In his previous concert shows - at Carnegie Hall, at the Beacon Theatre - the audience adored him from the get-go and CK rode that wave (sometimes pushing the comic envelope just to see if he could turn the crowd - like with a joke about fucking a dead kid in a field). You could see in the front rows of the Arizona crowd this was not a mob in ecstasy. Many, many shots of CK with the crowd in the background showed a lot of unsmiling faces.
So the material, at times, felt laboured.
This was heightened because the show was performed in the round. Those faces were always present. Worse, at one point in the hour, people were leaving. The outburst of joyous laughter happened but not in the never-ending waves which are the hallmarks of most of CK's recordings.
So the material, at times, felt laboured. The dead and murdered kids appeared in some of the humour (and, believe me, no one knows how to deliver hilarious darkness like CK) and one brilliant bit about what is the right thing to do and what our wicked subconscious suggests at the same time, flew. But the pauses felt like pauses and not like intelligent pacing to allow for intakes of breath between the hysterics.
In another concert CK suggests he doesn't have long left of his 15 minutes of fame. This little glitch does, in no way, make that statement true. CK, like Patton Oswalt, are here for a good while yet because - despite their fame - they take risks and their onstage personas will always take us places we know but never talk about.