Exploiting the Archives: the Louis C.K. interviews


When I worked at the A.V Club back in the day, we sought out bitter, jilted cranks to interview because we couldn’t get big names but also because bitter, jilted cranks are almost invariably more interested to talk to than successful people with things to lose and reasons to be political and diplomatic. 

Back in 2004, a veteran stand-up comedian, writer, producer and director with an unbeatable work ethic named Louis C.K. still qualified as a bitter, jilted cranked. He’d been kicking around for a while, wracking up impressive writing credits on Late Night with David Letterman, The Dana Carvey Show and The Chris Rock Show and was a widely admired comedian but at that point he was primarily known for having written and directed Pootie Tang, which did not do great with critics or audiences upon its release. 


That’s putting it mildly. In actuality, the world took one look at Pootie Tang and asked, “What is this hot garbage?” before rejecting it conclusively. C.K. was such a minor figure at that point that I think I just found his email address online and asked if he wanted to be interviewed. He had nothing to promote, and interviews generally last about a half hour but I got into such a good groove that we ended up talking about the failure of Pootie Tang for an hour and a half. 


I enjoyed talking to C.K. so much that a few years later we did another of our postmortems for a failed project, in this case Lucky Louie, the Norman Lear-style old school traditional sitcom that died after only a single season but that paved the way for his enduring triumph in a television series entitled Louie. 


Four years later, when I checked back in with Mr. C.K., he was doing a whole lot better, as Louie was well on its way to being one of the most acclaimed and important television shows of the decade. So we talked Louie and the crazy place he was at in his life and career


In my role as head writer of the A.V Club I spoke to C.K. for Christ, it must have been four or five hours a pop for a great feature they used to have called “Walk Through” where television creators would walk audiences through an important season of television. Here’s Louis C.K. on Louie’s second season: http://tv.avclub.com/louis-c-k-walks-us-through-louie-s-second-season-part-1798227667

In conclusion, I sure have interviewed C.K. a fuck ton over the years. Probably won’t be doing so too much in the future, but I’ve probably spent more time interviewing C.K. than anyone else, and that includes people I’ve written entire books about. 

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