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Thursday, October 06, 2016

Louis C.K. Live at Madison Square Garden

Ah, the comedy album. I'm surprised they still make them, given that you can see any comic on YouTube, but it's still a category at the Grammys. This year's winner is hard to buy: Louis CK Live at Madison Square Garden. On Amazon it's available only on vinyl, so I streamed it live from CK's Web site. He charges between one and eighty-five dollars, your choice.

The comedy album used to be a thing that pathetic guys, usually guys who were monkish about comedy, would take to parties and play so they could entertain other people, who would hardly listen. One of those guys was me. Of course, back in my day, if you brought a Steve Martin record to a party you were a hit. Not so much with George Carlin or Woody Allen.

Of the active stand-up comedians these days no one is better than Louis CK. I suppose Chris Rock and Jerry Seinfeld still do stand-up, but they are in the twilight and CK is high noon. He is an observational comedian, like Seinfeld, Garry Shandling, and Drew Carey, but filthy. On this record, he does bits about airplanes and being a parent and mortality, but in a very coarse manner.

CK has been working a long time and deserves his success. He makes me laugh consistently. I can only paraphrase, since I wasn't writing lines down, but some things struck me funny, such as his observation that the sound he used to make when he came is now the sound he makes when he pees. He did a long bit on babies on planes, and wondered why they tend to cry. Turns out it's because they're upset about gay marriage.

He talks about how his pet dog as a kid hated him, and how when a dog dies it teaches kids a good lesson on mortality, "it's like a dry run for grandma." He talks about how no one really gets to know how old they will be when they will die, which is untrue--terminal patients and suicides have a pretty good idea--and how he told a kid he hated that lived across the street how everybody dies.

His longest bit is about when he rented a house in the country and found a bat in the kitchen. He doesn't like bats, and thinks they should be exterminated. He anticipates protestations that they are useful, "I don't want to hear that they make all the French toast in the world" and goes on to how he calls 911 and a person who handles bats--the word "Batman" is carefully avoided--and a guy comes who merely plucks the bat down and charges him $600. The bit ends with a surreal bit CK doing a female voice and coming on to the "Batman," asking him to stick the animal up "her" ass.

Some of this doesn't work on audio; there are visual bits that got laughs but left me baffled. Which is why I'm still surprised comedy albums are made.

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