Even at the risk of revealing too much about myself (apologies in advance): a friend of mine from middle school once told me that every time someone masturbates, it’s like they’re aborting millions of babies. That thought crossed my mind every time I, in the words of Dr. Cox on Scrubs, took a trip to Palmdale when I was 13 and 14 years old, and I didn’t realize the flawed logic behind the statement until years later.
Like Louie C.K. says in the first episode of last night’s two-episode mini-marathon, “Come On, God,” as men, passions overwhelm and every beautiful thought we have is followed by one that’s absolutely disgusting. This is especially true, and totally natural, for a teenager (I am so sorry to the many women I degraded in my mind during those less-than-formative years), but like Ellen Farber (played by a fantastic Liz Holtan), who represented Christians Against Masturbation* on Red Eye with Greg Gutfeld, I pitied “prolific masturbator” Louie C.K. when he said he couldn’t just stop cleaning his pipes, that masturbation comes as natural to him as breathing, that it’s one of the few things in life that makes him truly happy.
To his credit, after Ellen wonders if he’s ever been truly happy, he does try to stop, and even manages to twice. (Not that there’s anything wrong with it, though.) Louie holds the elevator door open for a beautiful woman, and 20 minutes later, he’s hitching to Heaven, thinking about shoving a bag of dicks inside of her. It was an unsettling look into Louie’s psyche, where small Asian men don’t understand American women, soundtracked by a classical music score, as if that would make the proceedings classier than the rock music playing earlier. After his conversation with Ellen, he just can’t do Self-It anymore, at least for the moment. (One of the best things about the episode was it didn’t paint Louie’s side as right and Ellen’s as wrong, or vice versa; I’ve written before about Louie’s resistance to black-and-white thinking, and “Come On, God” could have gone for the easy Christian jokes, but it never demonized Ellen, nor her beliefs.)
This is skipping ahead a bit, but in the second episode, “Eddie,” the episode’s titular comedian tells a joke at an open-mic night in Brooklyn about how after ejaculation, porn becomes really disgusting and disturbing. When you’re “in the mood,” so to speak, the world is seen through rose-colored glasses (or Vaseline-covered lenses, a more apt analogy for the topic matter, I suppose), where even the grossest shit has the potential of being sexy (except for BBC News reports on genocide, the other time Louie stops) and you feel invincible, like anything’s possible. Like taking the virginity of a gorgeous Christian against masturbation, after she invites you up to her “sweet suite” after an evening spent walking around the city, talking honestly with one another.
Sitting down on her couch, and after a Joan-like awkward non-kiss, Ellen talks to Louie about taking time with relationships, about how a couple shouldn’t rush into anything, including making out and sex, and only after they’re married are they allowed to divulge in the act of two becoming one, and how all that pent up sexual energy would be worth it come their wedding night, and every night following for the rest of their lives, all because they waited. There wasn’t anything remotely sexy about the speech, and yet…I was really attracted to Ellen, which is precisely the point. In Louie’s mind, as mentioned above, men can’t help but sexualize anything and everything, even when the discussion is about not having sex; that’s why the episode ends with Louie masturbating and farting in that poor woman’s bathroom. And yet, Louie and Ellen aren’t all that different; they both construct fantasy lands in their mind to make themselves happy, and if that illusion ever vanished, they’d both realize how unhappy they truly are. It’s just that Louie’s dreams are blatantly carnal, while Ellen’s are more suppressed, yet equally sex-related.
“I’m Amy Grant from Russia, and America is experiencing hard times now, how to survive this and that…”
“Eddie” begins with an all-time great bit. Louie’s ruminating on stage about how he “only has courage for the perfect life,” and if his life stopped being anything less than perfect, he’d blow his brains out; he then tells a depressing story about an old lady he walked behind on the street. This old lady, who he “couldn’t be,” had a dog-shit spine, and because she was wearing a shirt with a high collar, it looked like she had no head. Her doctor, according to Louie, should have told her this look is “spooky from the back, sad from the front, and kind of funny from the side.”
When he walks off the stage, Louie bumps into fellow comedian and old friend Eddie (Doug Stanhope). He shows up out of nowhere, after the two comedians hadn’t seen one another for 20 years, and lays a heavy burden on Louie: he’s going to kill himself and there’s nothing anyone can do about it. Eddie believes he has nothing to live for — his career is a bust, he basically lives in his car, he “went soft” in the last three pussies he was in — and he’s sweating bullets of vodka. He’s also a racist who can’t tell the difference between someone from the Middle East and someone from Latin America. He’s kind of a dick like that, not only the racist part, but what do you say to someone who confesses they’re going to end their lives soon (IN MAINE!) after you haven’t seen them in forever?
But like the old lady and the terrible open-mic comedians who performed before Shitty Fat Tits, including Amy Grant from Russia, Eddie doesn’t lack conviction, and after originally trying to talk him out of suicide, Louie says, “I really hope you don’t kill yourself, I really do…but I gotta go home.” Earlier, Eddie had asked Louie to give him one good reason why he should continue living, and Louie refuses; not because he can’t think of any (although that might be tough, too), but because he doesn’t want to give any of them to anyone else. Both men are driven, and though they’re going in opposite directions, they respect each other’s certainty. Eddie may or may not kill himself, we’ll probably never know, but Louie will keep living not his shitty life — because as he says, “Life isn’t something you possess; it’s something that you take part in” — but everyone’s shitty life, and make the best of it, for his comedy, for his girls, and maybe even for himself.
*As a Jew, I wasn’t totally familiar with how hardcore Christians viewed masturbation, other than I’m sure they didn’t like. Well, here’s a Google-found passage from Matthew in The New Testament, which answered all of my questions: “You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who has looked a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”
Josh Kurp enjoyed “Come On, God” more than “The Contest.”