Louis CK 2017 Netflix stand-up review: Louis has shed the concept of shame and invites you to do the same

His new set is typically, barbarically honest

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The Independent Culture

We need comedians now more than ever. Not because of the Trump thing - well, maybe because of the Trump thing - but also because we’re increasingly just saying what we’re expected to not what we actually think. Louis C.K. is a man untroubled by this modern pressure, a man who let go of worrying about concepts like shame, judgement and self-preservation years ago, settling into a very lucid - if not always very happy - relationship with his id.

Dave Chappelle’s recent Netflix stand-ups were a failed attempt at pouring the cold water of common sense onto the big topics; stale and old-fashioned, they were ultimately a little offensive even to someone like myself with a pretty high tolerance when it comes to taking offence. Netflix’s new set from Louis C.K. is much better however, the comedian giving the audience a guided tour of their own darkest thoughts.

2017 turns out to be a bit of a misnomer, the hour-and-fifteen performance not focusing on this bizarre new world we’ve found ourselves in at all, but rather issues that persist throughout the years and decades. Louis wastes no time with “How’s it going Washington?” stuff, instead launching into a bit on the paradox of supporting abortion as a liberal, why more people aren’t killing themselves and “the worst thing about being beheaded”.

It’s typically dark, Louis having always mined the ridiculous thoughts and moral conundra we have from day to day, and he’s an expert at shocking, even appalling you with an opening line or assertion, only to win you over with simple, often absurd and yet oddly wise logic by the end of the bit. He’s fascinated by the shittiness of the human race, in the mundane as much as the globally impacting. “Is there any more disgusting modern human behaviour than reading your own already sent emails?” he muses at one point, likening it to scratching your ass and sniffing your finger.

This new set (which sees him thank Obama in the credits), might not be his finest, and I miss the anecdotes he used to tell in his stand-ups, but it still has plenty of solid laughs, the final part on the “budding homosexuality” he discovered in himself while watching Magic Mike being hilarious and idiosyncratically pragmatic. I don’t like cognac, but if I was offered the best congac in the world, of course I’d try it, he explains, so why not the best dick?

You get the sense Louis is more interested in doing scripted fiction stuff now, whether it’s his small but pleasing contribution to American Hustle or his acclaimed shows Louie and Horace & Pete (this show probably partly paying for the latter), but it’s good to see he can still get out in front of an audience and dissect the human condition for laughs - one thing’s for sure, he’ll definitely never consider himself above it.