C.K. Q and A
Louis C.K. posted the following (and a bunch of other stuff) on this message board.
"Here are some questions:"
"When (at what age) did you start doing stand-up and when did you start getting good at it?"
I first did standup when i was 17, in Boston. I tried doing it twice at open mic nights but I found it to be horribly intimidating. The club I did it at, stitches, was really just part of the Boston Bar scene which is hostile and not fun, especially when you're only 17. I could only do about 2 minutes at a time so after twice I quit. Then a year later I went to a tiny alternative movie house in Central Square called Off the Wall (it's long gone) that did comedy midnights on saturday. The show was booked and hosted by Ron Lynch. It was an a wonderful show and the instant I saw it I wanted nothing more than to be part of it and devote the rest of my life to comedy. Ron was kind enough to let me go one one saturday and I became a regular. I don't know when I got good at standup. I think it probably took me about 4 or 5 years till I could say I was very reliable and could get laughs in most situations.
"You've worked on a lot of TV shows and stuff. What has been your best experience as a writer/producer/director in show biz and what made it great? What was the worst and why?"
Conan was great because we were given very free reign to do what ever we wanted and the writers had an obscene ammount of control over production and how things were shot. It was an exhausting experience but I was young enough to eat it up at the time.
Chris Rock show was really great because the show was a hit and there's a lot to be said for working on something that is actually popular. Chris' audiences were great too and when you did something really nuts they would go fucking bannanas laughing at it. That was very gratifying. Conan's audience never ever laughed that hard in the time I was there. Chris is also a great guy to work with and the work load was low because we had a huge writing staff for a half hour a week.
Letterman sucked. It was just stale and boring and opressive. Period.
Dana Carvey was probably the worst experience I ever had because of the pressure, the pain, the... oh god it was awful...
As I director, I loved making all the short films. I really have to get back to that. I just bought an 8mm camera and I'm going to try to start shooting again. My first feature, Tomorrow Night was a sublime experience for me. I got to make exactly the movie I wanted to make, I was very satisfied with the result and everyone I worked with was great. I only wish it ever got released. But there you go.
"What stand-up comics do you enjoy the most? Any up-and-comers?"
AS far as new guys, at least new to me, BJ Novac has truly great jokes. Then there's another guy who I loved and I wish I remembered his name. I only remember that he announced on stage thatt he was selling tshirts after the show and held one up. The tshirt had printed on it one of the more inapporpriate lines from his act. Does anyone know who that is? I also like Morgan Murphy. Zach G. usually makes me laugh. As far as guys who are definitely not new, in fact they are old now, who i think are funny, Todd Glass makes me laugh so so so hard. And Doug Benson is a guy I never miss if I can help it. Andy Kindler is great. Then there's guys like JB Smoove who is probably the best Standup ever, Jimmy Pardo I love. I think Chris Rock is a great comedian, a real master. I love Dave Attell, of course. Gee, lots of guys. Nick Dipaolo is like a poet sometimes with the choices he makes. "my girlfriend bought a vibrator which didn't bother me, but she got this huge black one. It looked like she stole a pepper mill from Morton's steak house."
"The comedian's name you can't remember is Dan Mintz"
Thanks. Yes. that's him. he's funny.
"I remember reading on your guestbook a while ago about a movie you wrote with david cross about hitler. is this correct, or was it just some comedy nerd wet dream i had?"
I started writing a movie that involves Hitler which I thought would be great for David to star in. He liked the idea too and we started to collaborate on it but then we both got very busy. I look at it now and again and think I should just sit down and finish it, but I never have because I'm a lazy asshole. Someday. We'll see.
"I'm wondering what are your favourite bits that you do? Also, any that you're not particulalry fond of but keep doing because they get a good response?"
My favorite bits are always whatever are the newest bits in my act that are working. There's nothing so exciting as a new piece of material that is killing. Actually, it's the hope that those will keep popping up now and again that keeps me doing standup. It's the fear that they're gone never to return that makes my penis shrivel every single time I try to have sex.
As far as the latter, my act is full of bits that I hate but keep doing because they work. Actually, in the last few years I've tried to be tougher on myself as far as weening off of worn out killer material. Having that heavy artillery, that is stuff that is completely unable to not kill, is really a curse because as long as you have that to draw from, you don't have an actual need to write new material. There is no drive to make you write like the first one you get as a comic, the one that tells you that if you don't write some jokes, you won't have any jokes. I have jokes. Lots of them. I could actually do every show from now on without ever writing another one. But then I would empty my skull into a bathtub at some point, so I have manufacture a need for new material by depriving myself of the A material. This can be diffiicult because it means deciding that it's okay to bomb in front of that crowd if the new stuff doesn't work. I don't find that easy to do because I don't like making any audience pay for my development. I want to give them all a good show. That's why places like Mbar can be good, because there is a feeling there that folks are working on new things. But even that audience wants to laugh and wants you to try, and so they should.
"And finally, what's the one joke you've heard a stand-up do and think, "Fuck! I really wish I had thought of that.""
When Todd Glass says "I once squeezed a kittten so hard, he shit his pants. That's right. he shit right in his slacks!" I just want to fucking kill myself.
"2) What were some of your favorite bits that you wrote for conan?"
I loved writing the Staring Contest and Actual Items the best. Early on we did somethign called Bad Fruit Theater and I loved that though it never killed. My favorite bit on the show while I was there was "Desk Drive" which I never wrote on. I think that was always Dino.