September 21st, 2012
12:08 PM ET
[This post contains spoilers for the September 20 episode of FX's "Louie."]
Thursday night’s “Louie” concluded the three-part “Late Show” arc, and like all great comedians, Louis C.K. has expert timing.
So it came as no surprise that his deliberate pacing over the past two episodes built to a payoff that was as inspiring as it was tragic.
At the episode’s start, Louie seemed fully dedicated to replacing David Letterman. He continued his determined quest to lose weight, and resumed his training with Jack Dall. He explained he wasn’t a "3, 2, 1, funny" kind of comedian.
“Let me tell you what kind of what you are,” Dall said. “You’re whatever you have to be to make people laugh. Any time, anywhere, anyone.”
At home, Louie continued to rehearse, wearing a suit jacket over his standard black t-shirt. But Janet, Jane and Lilly interrupted to deliver good luck notes.
As Louie awaited his big moment, Dall visited his dressing room, bringing along a suit and some prescient wisdom.
Then, in walked his rival Jerry Seinfeld. Seinfeld said that he’d already signed the deal, but that the news was still a secret. Dall’s showbiz rule number 3! Jerry’s secret was a lie.
Louie took the stage in a full suit, finally seeming at ease. He graduated to Obama jokes! He established a friendly rapport with guests Susan Sarandon and Paul Rudd.
The guests laughed, the audience laughed, Louie laughed. He killed. Lars Tardigan agreed, announcing to himself, “I’ve got an option.”
Even perennial undercutter Todd Barry lauded his friend Louie. But as Louie toasted his pals, Maria Menounos delivered the news that Letterman had renewed his contract for 10 years. Doug explained that the studio was able to negotiate Letterman down several million dollars because of Louie’s strong performance.
Louie left the bar and soon found himself outside of the Ed Sullivan Theater. As he stared up at the marquee, his dejection turned to euphoria. Louie threw his arms in the air and screamed, “I did it!”
He did. This was the biggest professional challenge Louie had ever faced. He conquered his fear - that he wasn’t he right guy, that he couldn’t rise to the occasion - and walked out onto that stage assuredly and gave it his all. That was the victory.
No, he wouldn’t replace David Letterman. Not yet, at least. But he had proven that he could replace the old insecure Louie with a better, more confident version. When he returned to the boxing ring, he sparred Alphonse with an unprecedented vigor.
This three-part arc was the most ambitious story “Louie” has attempted thus far, and the result was spectacular. Each installment worked as a stand-alone episode, but together they form a strangely hilarious, quietly realistic indie movie about the heartbreak of showbiz.
While it will be hard for next week’s season finale to measure up to the “Late Show” storyline, I’m certain “Louie” will rise to the occasion and exceed our expectations. Just like its title character.
What did you think of the “Late Show” trilogy?
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