On a different, lesser show, one more like Oh, Louie starring Bob Saget, Louie C.K. and Dane Cook would have envied one another, wishing they had what the other possesses. In Louie’s case, it’s riches and a double platinum album; for Dane, it’s to be seen as a comedian’s comedian, to maybe not be able to sell out Madison Square Garden but have the respect of your fellow joke-makers.
But things aren’t always that black-and-white.
“Oh Louie/Tickets” begins in the past, on the set of Louie’s three-camera sitcom, Oh, Louie, with his long suffering, yet eternally perky wife and Saget as his unnecessary best friend. (Was it supposed to be mocking Louis’ never-aired CBS sitcom, Saint Louie?) The beer is cold, the caps are turned backwards, and the jokes are stupid (“Yeah, but the table’s right here!”), and when Louie isn’t able to change the script from “I love you” to “I’m leaving you,” he leaves the set in a huff, although not before telling the live studio audience to fuck themselves.
In the next scene, Louie is back at his old house, still living with his soon-to-be ex-wife, who coldly hands her husband his infant daughter. While trying to get her to sleep, he says, “Sorry baby, your dad is a comedian,” and explains that the reason he tried to make the sitcom work was because he didn’t want to be on the road all the time, away from her (and later, her sister). It’s a sweet scene, featuring some of Louie’s finest acting (he really has a way with children), and it segues nicely into the next segment, when he gives a now 10-year-old Lily her birthday present: tickets to see Supreme (Sabrina?) Bubble. The two share a promoter, but Lily’s disappointed: she wants to see Lady Gaga, instead. After plotting out dates on the road, where Louie says he has to be home a certain number of days per week, his 12-year-old manager (another nice surreal character who we’re given no explanation for) explains there’s only one person who can get tickets to see Gaga: the star of Good Luck Chuck himself, Dane Cook.
Louis C.K.: 87,220. Dane Cook: 4,161,337. Those figures are the number of Facebook “Likes” for the two comedians — ultimately, the exact number is pointless, but it still shows how much more (mainstream) popular Cook is than C.K., even if websites like the A.V. Club and, well, Splitsider consider him an unfunny, joke-stealing hack (although he was quite good in Dan in Real Life…just saying). Louie has to play small-scale comedy clubs and casinos to get by, while Cook needs a team of bodyguards (the exaggeration was a bit excessive on the show’s part) and can sell out Madison Square Garden — although Caroline’s is only 16 blocks away from MSG, they’re miles apart in popularity.
Sucking up his pride, and kind of acting like a dick, Louie asks Cook if there’s any way he could get two tickets to see Gaga. Cook, of course, can, and he’s more than happy to — as long as C.K. records himself saying that Cook never stole any of his jokes, and then put the video on YouTube. Because while C.K. never actually accused of Cook of a comedian’s worst crime, he never publicly said he didn’t do it, either. My favorite scene of the episode was when Cook’s explaining why two thousand and six should have been the greatest year of his life (he was touring behind Retaliation, the most successful comedy album since Steve Martin’s A Wild and Crazy Guy in 1978, making millions of dollars, etc.), but it wasn’t, because all anyone who mattered, to him at least, could talk about was plagiarism of an itchy asshole joke. He’s been branded with a scarlet letter for half a decade now, and that shit’s never going away.
Seeing the two have a sit-down was fascinating — I mean that, just literally watching. Glowering Louie, wearing a plain black shirt, leaning back on the sofa, occasionally scratching himself and always keeping his voice low, as opposed to the extreme Ed Hardy-wearing Cook, constantly moving back and forth and making intense hand motions, his body all a-twitch, his speaking volume echoing in his dressing room. The passive C.K. to the aggressive Cook, “a machine of success” who unknowingly (may have) poached jokes. (To his credit, however, he never once lost his cool.) It’s such a great sequence because you’re not sure how much of it is scripted, just two actors performing in front of the camera, and how much is an actual airing of grievances with genuine emotions.
The two never really come to an understanding and they’re both still disappointed, another thing that separates real-life Louie from pretend-world Oh, Louie. Even if C.K. gave a passionate apology to Cook, about how he should stomped out the joke-stealing rumors back when they first began, it wouldn’t really mean anything. Comedy nerds would continue to dislike Cook, and C.K. still wouldn’t be able to fill the World’s Most Famous Arena. Instead, the episode ends with C.K. taking Cook’s advice — about giving presents in a box, rather than an envelope — which was both playing off the idea of taking and using someone’s universal idea (we all have itchy assholes, but it’s credited to Louie; we all give presents in boxes, but it’s credited to Dane) and Cook giving parental advice to C.K., who felt humiliated. And to him, that’s the ultimate insult. For one night at least, Cook had C.K. beat.
Josh Kurp has seen My Best Friend’s Girl.