‘Louie’ Recap: ‘Ikea/Piano Lesson’

There is an awkward moment in an episode of Tough Crowd with Colin Quinn from sometime between 2002 and 2004 where Marc Maron implied that himself, Dom Irrera and the late Ken Ober were all having sex with Louis C.K.’s wife.

Even in the proper comedic context, it was enough for C.K. to make a “hey come on” gesture to Maron, which is the universal symbol for “you have three seconds to take that back and/or say you were kidding before I kill you.” Maron both took it back and said he was being facetious immediately. The sad part is, that was the best part of the episode. Not because it was a weak edition of the show. In fact, if it isn’t the funniest episode of Tough Crowd, it is definitely the all-time most popular, considering that 1) it was maybe the only time on television before last night that C.K. and Maron were in the same room at the same time, and maybe the only time before they became who they are now and 2) the entire third act featured Colin Quinn and surprise guest Jerry Seinfeld singing and brawling. (I would say they were better at pretending to scuffle with one another than they were at singing. But it was close!) No, the depressing aspect of C.K. and Maron’s awkward interaction is that it was the only time in the nineteen minute episode that showed the two of them acknowledging the other person’s existence.

It is unclear if the most infamous fractured friendship in comedy was already at the point where the two weren’t speaking to one another at the time of the taping, but it is obvious that figuring out the whole timeline to the rise and fall of the relationship between two incredibly talented and idiosyncratic comedians has become embarrassingly really damn interesting. If you are reading this you likely are aware, thanks to the WTF interview with C.K. in 2010, how the two comedians who first met and became friends when they were starting out in stand up comedy in the late 1980s lost contact with one another, but nobody will ever really know all of the details, or who, if anyone, is to blame. C.K. claimed Maron had ignored all of his attempts at contact and eventually was told by Marc that he felt Louis was all about Louis and he was done dealing with it, but later in the interview C.K. had admitted that he had similarly shut Marc out for a period of time after Maron divorced his wife, and again when he began his ascent towards stardom when Maron conveniently expressed interest in communicating again. The two men agreed over the air back then to keep in touch, only for Maron to say twenty seconds later in the post interview that in the weeks since the taped segment that they had not been in touch. About six months later in a print interview, C.K. said that Marc kept wanting to get him back on WTF, which he found “weird” and probably one would imagine a bit off-putting, if true. But this past May it was announced that Marc Maron was going to appear on Louie, and our hearts were whole again.

The “Piano Lesson” vignette was the moment most of us had been waiting for all summer, but there was some backstory that had to be set up before Louis gave us crazy kids what we wanted. It was better than expected, in that not just Maron appeared in the episode, but Maria Bamford and Sarah Silverman as well. As Louie was about to begin his very first piano lesson with a delightful middle aged lady named Doris (she actually seemed too young to be named Doris, but this show named a child Never last week, so what are we talking about?) he received a phone call from Bamford, who played the character “Maria Bamford” a few weeks ago, a stand up who did not get her world rocked by our hero. She said she had crabs, so does Louie, and he can go fuck himself if it was his fault, or she’s sorry if it is her fault (analogous to a certain friendship? Minus the STDs?). Instead of writing a scene where his character would get predictably embarrassed ordering crab killing shampoo from a pharmacy, C.K. zigged where most zagged and had an old lady get red faced when she filled out an all too public questionnaire about her shits.

Doctor: Did you have a bowel movement today?Old Lady: Yes I did I had a bowel movement…Doctor: What was it like? Was it soft? Was it hard? Or was your bowel movement normal?Poor Old Lady: Oh well it was perhaps a little soft but mostly normal.Kind of a Jerk Doctor: (A little annoyed) You should be fine.

After getting his scrub on in the shower, Louie unwound by watching television. He stumbled upon the fictional equivalent of one of the old HBO Young Comedian specials that run from time to time on HBO Comedy. C.K. doesn’t even smirk when seeing himself from the late 1980s/early 90s performing stand up on television. It was really depressing. Then it got even sadder when he compared his young visage and slim body to his current look.

As soon as young Sarah Silverman came onto the stage, his mood changed drastically.

Probably because he realized he can just call Sarah Silverman whenever he wants to. Silverman was as equally as dismissive of her early work the way Louie was of his, but she found it amusing instead of profoundly depressing. It helps that, as she says, she might even look better now, twenty plus years later.

But then a ghost appeared, and he looked like Marc Maron in the middle of one of his many different facial hair and wardrobe configurations.

The fashion police was none too pleased.

Louie admitted to Silverman that he hadn’t spoken to Maron in ten years, and when asked why he realized that all this time that he was the one who was wrong (wrong of what exactly is something we never discover).

In the Louie universe, Marc Maron still lives in New York City, and walks around his apartment with such a nice shirt that he doesn’t feel the need to wear pants.

The whole no pants element brought some levity to the tense scene. C.K. apologized, in his character’s trademark eloquent yet full of fragmented sentences way, for shutting Maron out of his life for a decade for something that was not Marc’s fault. Maron’s somewhat cold behavior was confusing until we got to the punchline: Louie had apologized five years before and promptly forgot that he did so. “Last time you cried though,” Maron noticed. “So that’s something.” It seemingly lead Maron’s character “Marc Maron” to believe that the C.K. character, “Louie”, did not really mean what he was saying, even if “Louie” believed that he was. With some anger in his voice Maron said that it would be nice (and mean something) if Louie asked him if he wanted to get coffee or have a dinner, which was met with “yeah yeah yeah“‘s by the still confused C.K. It was a funny and depressing scene, a neat in-joke for the comedy geeks, and therefore an instant classic. Really wish Maron wore pants. But that might just be me.

Oh, and there was “Ikea”, a nice short that had Delores re-enter our lives. She was the woman from last season’s “Blueberries” that promised Louie a one night stand, only for him to realize that she just wanted to cosplay as an old depressing married couple. This time around she offers a blowjob in exchange for a day purchasing furniture at Ikea. Louie is really uncomfortable but agrees to it anyway, because it is television. Predictably Louie is too busy checking his phone to pay the attention the assortment of rugs at the store deserves, leading to a husband and wife type quarrel. After a speech where C.K. admits that no rug can ever make him or anyone exceedingly happy because it’s just a damn rug, and possibly believing like I kind of did that he subconsciously was talking about her and not rugs when pontificating on his indifferent and impassionate feelings, Delores cried.

On the drive back she mentioned the blowjob, but Louie said not to worry about it, probably believing that there would be fifteen unseen strings attached to that action. Maria Dizzla’s line readings of Delores’ response of “Okay well you can just owe it to me okay? So…notify me when you want me to…suck it” were Emmy worthy: so awkward, not at all sexual, and somehow kind of sweet. Delores smiled, realizing she finally got the nice peaceful domestic moment she had wanted with Louie the entire time as she eased into a conversation about chairs. Louie assured her that she was correct in not purchasing the rattan chairs and going for the more practical “painted” ones. She was conversing with a fellow human being and not crying, there were no “fuck you”s to be spoken, and it was heaven.

Things To Say While Feeling Sad About Richard Nixon

- “You wanna know what I think of the rug I’ll tell you. It’s fine. It’s a rug! It’s fine. That’s the level of passion a rug warrants. It’s a rug. It doesn’t solve all my problems, but it doesn’t make me angry. It’s a rug. It doesn’t smell bad, its flat, its blue it goes on the floor…its not coated with AIDS, and its not a portal to a nether place.  It doesn’t make me cum but its fine.”

- “’Fuck you’” or “’sorry’,” I don’t know which one.”

- “So I just decided ‘screw them’ I’ll learn to do it.”

Things To Ponder While Figuring Out When To Start the Revolution 

- Pamela Adlon got co-writer credit. What parts did she help write?

- The weird reality show came back and can now be considered a season long running gag. Even considering C.K.’s quirky and weird dialogue choices, “winner of the 17 $40 prize” has to be the strangest yet, right?

- Louis has definitely gone out of his way to feature more continuity this season, but would it have killed him to have Marc Maron conduct his Basic Instinct business in a rattan chair?

- We had a Doris AND a Delores this week, neither of whom were over 70 years old. Kind of odd right?

Roger Cormier will not discuss his bowel movements. He simply follows the instructions on the bottle.

‘Louie’ Recap: ‘Ikea/Piano Lesson’