As the writer-director of the cult, er, “classic” Pootie Tang, Louis CK isn't an artist you'd normally go to for profundity. But at the Newmark Theater last Saturday, the comic did—in his own, c-word and shit-joke laden way—present a rather poignant message about the state of the country. And for a guy who usually bristles to the point of a Tourette's-style breakdown over the stupidity that surrounds him, it was surprisingly optimistic (and no, Obama had nothing to do with it). His point: Even if America falls into a depression, the world we live in today is full of miracles those alive only a few decades prior could not have imagined.
The problem? This incredible age is being wasted on “the shittiest generation of fucking assholes.”
For a good chunk of his consistently hilarious nearly two-hour set, Louis railed not against the inconveniences of modern life but those who lack the perspective to realize how good we got it. We have the power of flight—even if it sometimes takes an extra 40 minutes to leave the runway, we're still traveling on a “fucking chair in the sky,” something the most powerful men on the planet hundreds of years ago would have given up everything to do. All our family and friends and casual acquaintances are now buzzing all around us, an innovation a 41-year-old such as Louis finds amazing, considering he remembers a time when families couldn't even claim ownership of their own phones—and yet, kids bitch when a text message fails to get to them as instantly as they'd like. “Even if it takes a month for you to get it,” he said, “that is fucking incredible!” To Louis, we have indeed become, in the words of Phil Gramm, a nation of whiners, of people who don't talk to each other so much as “secrete” words out of our skulls.
His message—that even if the foundations of capitalism are on the verge of shattering, we should appreciate what we still have—was oddly reassuring in an era of universal doomsaying.
And the digressions into describing, among other things, a fantasy about two pale, gluttonous slobs blowing each other in the middle of a Starbucks were just sickly funny.
Although he sometimes appears to be made up of 72 percent pure acidic bile, the best moments of Louis' performance were also the sweetest—sweet being a relative term, in this case. His observations on raising his two young daughters, which formed the basis of his short-lived HBO series Lucky Louie, weren't any less barbed than his comments on the rest of humanity, but there was no doubt that he loves his children, even as he described the debilitating exhaustion of parenting, which for him includes arguing with his 4-year-old over whether the snack cakes are called Fig Newtons or Pig Newtons and having to crap with the bathroom door open.
The latter is the result of his recent divorce, the announcement of which elicited a sympathetic groan from the crowd, which he quickly shushed. “No good marriage ends in divorce,” he reminded the audience. He didn't spend a lot of time discussing his reintroduction to single life, other than to say that after nine years of willingly allowing his appearance to wither, it's like somehow coming into “50 million Prussian francs” — a gift that's absolutely worthless now.
Speaking of marriage, Louis did not address the fight for gay marriage at the Newmark on the day hundreds gathered on the PSU campus to protest California's Proposition 8, but it's something he has discussed in the past. If pro-gay rights group had used him as a spokesman, Nov. 4 may have turned out differently for them. Well, maybe not. But his argument is, as most of his viewpoints, profanely salient: