THE SHOW "Louie"
WHEN | WHERE Thursday night at 10:30 on FX
REASON TO WATCH Launch of the second season
CATCHING UP Louis C.K. is a New York-based observational comic whose strange/normal life is what's being observed. How to describe Louie's life of existential disappointment, romantic affliction and parental distress (although he is a successful stand-up)? He affects puzzlement, sometimes bemused puzzlement, mostly because very amusing and puzzling things happen to him, usually on a New York street when he least expects them.
In fact, the streets of New York are also Louie's material -- material as if drawn from an insane asylum. Viewers see snatches of his stand-up show, interspersed with much longer scenes of his daily personal routine. Thursday, his sister (Rusty Schwimmer) arrives. She is very pregnant and has extreme distress in the middle of the night, which results in a visit to the emergency room -- but at least Louie gets to meet his gay neighbors.
MY SAY To Louis C.K. -- his TV alter ego and apparently his real ego -- the world is wormwood and gall wrapped in a psychotic-comic gauze. There's a fascinating moment in a subsequent episode when he witnesses two men get out of a limo, grab a homeless person off the street and substitute him for another almost identical one. It makes no sense, makes no sense to Louie -- but there it was and seemed, in some inscrutable way, to have a bearing on his existence. The episodes this season -- I've witnessed three, and "witness" does seem to be the right word -- are sharply drawn and often very funny, bleak and bluntly vulgar. That vulgarity is at the core of his stand-up -- a sharp uppercut to your jaw that arrives after a flurry of soft blows to your midsection. It can be a surprise, and is sometimes effective or just repulsive. But that's Louis C.K. and "Louie" -- you take the good with the bad. Fortunately, this show is usually good.
BOTTOM LINE Still funny and still not for everyone. "Louie" remains very much a taste that you either acquire -- or don't.