Louis C.K. is known for his hilarious stand-up specials and for his current hit show Louie. But most people are sadly unfamiliar with the long comedic road that got him to this point.
C.K. wrote and directed short films throughout the early to mid 1990's, none of which more ambitious and just plain weird than "Ice Cream", a thirteen minute short that won the grand prize at the Aspen short film festival and was screened at Sundance.
Another short he made was "The Legend of Willie Brown" which somehow is a brilliant parody of Ken Burns' Jazz miniseries years before it was aired. These shorts helped Louis land his first television writing gig on Late Night with Conan O'Brien at its infancy.
Television writing did not stop C.K. from working on his stand-up. He sat down on a cartoon couch and made a few appearances on Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist, an animated Comedy Central show that ran from 1995-2002. It turns out that before he had kids of his own Louie showed some contempt for children. Humorous contempt.
After leaving Conan and quitting after a brief stint writing for Letterman, Louis C.K. was offered a showrunning position by former boss Robert Smigel on The Dana Carvey Show. Despite what one would assume from its title, The Dana Carvey Show was actually a very funny program. The 1996 ABC sketch comedy began with a C.K. penned sketch in which President Bill Clinton talks about his re-election campaign. What starts off as a seemingly straight, above-average SNL bit goes off the rails when Clinton reveals he went through estrogen hormonal therapy. The operation leaves Clinton with the ability to breastfeed babies and puppies and lay on eggs with a hen's ass, all in order to be the "mother and father of the nation." Considering this was the very first sketch of the series, it isn't surprising the show only lasted six episodes.
Before taking the Carvey job, Chris Rock offered Louie a head writing job writing for his new HBO series The Chris Rock Show. Once Carvey tanked C.K. joined Rock's writing staff and stayed on for its three seasons. While writing for Rock a character began to take shape, albeit a shape that was very hard to understand. This character would end up getting a movie of his own. Yes, Louis C.K. wrote Pootie Tang. The 81-minute 2001 cinematic adventure was a lot of things, but more than anything it was silly. In a good way. In the funniest scene, we find that Pootie Tang is so cool that he "don't need no words" and "don't even need no music" when recording his number one hit song. Somehow an Asian boy listening to silence steals the movie from a pimp Andy Richter and an afro rocking Chris Rock.
The 2000's found C.K. more focused on his stand-up comedy than ever. In this 2004 clip Louie performs at the Hollywood Improv where his hilarious bits in which he gets enraged at his innocent children are first developed. There's also a good joke about martini sipping in Central Park.
In this bit that didn't make it to either Chewed Up or Shameless, Louis C.K. informs us what he would do if he had Bill Gates' money. Talking about what you would do with an obscene amount of cash has been done quite often with comedians, but nobody does it funnier (and cruder) than our goateed hero.
While traveling the country Louie found time to go back to making other movies. In this clip Louie tried to produce animation on his own, but couldn't seem to get past his daddy issues.
And here Louie takes advantage of being bigger than a child. He would recycle the funny gag of escaping in a helicopter in the date episode of his new FX show.