Louis C.K.

Louis Székely (/ˈli ˌsˈk/)[2] (born September 12, 1967), better known by his stage name Louis C.K. (/ˈli ˌsˈk/),[lower-alpha 1] is an American stand-up comedian, writer, actor, and filmmaker.[4][5] C.K. won a Peabody Award in 2012[6] and has received six Primetime Emmy Awards,[7] as well as numerous awards for The Chris Rock Show, Louie, and his stand-up specials Live at the Beacon Theater (2011) and Oh My God (2013).[8] He has won the Grammy Award for Best Comedy Album twice. Rolling Stone ranked C.K.'s stand-up special Shameless number three on their "Divine Comedy: 25 Best Stand-Up Specials and Movies of All Time" list[9] and ranked him fourth on its 2017 list of the 50 best stand-up comics of all time.[10]

Louis C.K.
C.K. in 2012
Birth nameLouis Székely
Born (1967-09-12) September 12, 1967
Washington, D.C., U.S.
Years active1984–present
  • Everyday life
  • human interaction
  • human behavior
  • social awkwardness
  • sex
  • marriage
  • masturbation
  • family
  • gender differences
  • racism
  • self-deprecation
  • current events
  • pop culture
Alix Bailey
(m. 1995; div. 2008)
Partner(s)Blanche Gardin (2018–2019)

C.K. began his career in the 1990s writing for comedians including David Letterman, Conan O'Brien, Dana Carvey, Chris Rock, and also for other comedy shows. He was also directing surreal short films and went on to direct two features—Tomorrow Night (1998) and Pootie Tang (2001). In 2001, C.K. released his debut comedy album, Live in Houston, directly through his website and became among the first performers to offer direct-to-fan sales of tickets to his stand-up shows, as well as DRM-free video concert downloads, via his website.[11] He has released nine comedy albums, often directing and editing his specials as well.

He had supporting acting roles in the films American Hustle, Blue Jasmine (both 2013), and Trumbo (2015). C.K. created, directed, executive produced, starred in, wrote, and was the primary editor of Louie, an acclaimed semi-autobiographical comedy-drama series aired from 2010 to 2015 on FX. In 2016, C.K. created and starred in his self-funded web series Horace and Pete. He also co-created the shows Baskets and Better Things for FX and voiced the protagonist Max in the animated film The Secret Life of Pets in the same year.

In 2017 he admitted to several incidents of sexual misconduct which involved him masturbating in front of women, which resulted in widespread criticism and in his 2017 film I Love You, Daddy being pulled from distribution prior to its scheduled release date. Later he was replaced by Patton Oswalt for the role of Max in the 2019 sequel to The Secret Life of Pets.

Early life

C.K. was born Louis Székely in Washington, D.C.[12] on September 12, 1967,[13][14] the son of software engineer Mary Louise (née Davis) and economist Luis Székely.[15] His parents met at Harvard University, where his mother was completing her degree in a summer school program.[16] They were married at St. Francis Church in Traverse City, Michigan.[17] C.K. has three sisters.[18] His paternal grandfather, Dr. Géza Székely Schweiger, was a Hungarian Jewish surgeon whose family moved to Mexico, where he met C.K.'s Mexican paternal grandmother, Rosario Sánchez Morales.[19][20] C.K.'s mother, an American with Irish ancestry, grew up on a farm in Michigan.[21][22] She graduated from Owosso High School in Owosso, Michigan. She attended University of Michigan and graduated from Ohio State University Phi Beta Kappa. C.K.'s maternal grandparents were M. Louise Davis and Alfred C. Davis.[17]

When C.K. was a year old, his family moved to his father's home country of Mexico, where his father had earned a degree from the National Autonomous University of Mexico prior to graduating from Harvard.[17] C.K.'s first language was Spanish; it was not until after they moved back to the U.S. when he was seven that he began to learn English. He has said that he has since forgotten much of his Spanish.[23] When C.K. left Mexico with his family, they moved back to the United States and settled in Boston.[24]

Upon moving from Mexico to suburban Boston, C.K. wanted to become a writer and comedian, citing Richard Pryor, Steve Martin, and George Carlin as some of his influences.[16] When he was 10, his parents divorced. C.K. said that his father was around but he did not see him much and when he remarried, C.K.'s father converted to Orthodox Judaism, the faith of his new wife.[25][26] C.K. and his three sisters were raised by their single mother in Newton, Massachusetts.[27] The fact that his mother had only "bad" TV shows to view upon returning home from work inspired him to work on television.[27] C.K.'s mother raised her children as Catholic and they attended after-school Catholic class until they completed communion.[26] C.K. has said that his father's whole family still lives in Mexico. C.K.'s paternal uncle Dr. Francisco Székely is an academic and an international consultant on environmental affairs who served as Mexico's Deputy Minister of Environment (2000–2003).[28]

C.K. attended Newton North High School, and graduated in 1985. He graduated with future Friends star Matt LeBlanc.[29] After graduation, C.K. worked as an auto mechanic and at a public access TV cable station in Boston.[15] According to C.K., working in public access TV gave him the tools and technical knowledge to make his short films and later his television shows. "Learning is my favorite thing", he said.[11] He also worked for a time as a cook and in a video store.[18]


1984–1997: Career beginnings

In 1984, C.K. at 17 directed the comedic short film Trash Day. The New York University Tisch School of the Arts showed an interest in him as a filmmaker, but he instead decided to pursue a career in stand-up comedy.[30] C.K.'s first attempt at stand-up was in 1985 at an open mic night at a comedy club in Boston, Massachusetts, during the apex of the comedy boom. He was given five minutes of time, but had only two minutes of material.[31] He was so discouraged by the experience that he did not perform again for two years.[32] As Boston's comedy scene grew, C.K. gradually achieved success, performing alongside acts such as Denis Leary and Lenny Clarke, and eventually he moved up to paid gigs, opening for Jerry Seinfeld and hosting comedy clubs[15] until he moved to Manhattan in 1989.[31] He performed his act on many televised programs, including Evening at the Improv and Star Search. C.K.'s short film Ice Cream (1993), was submitted to the Aspen Shortsfest in 1994.[33]

In 1993, he unsuccessfully auditioned for Saturday Night Live,[5] although he did later work with Robert Smigel on the TV Funhouse shorts for the program.[34] C.K.'s earliest writing job was for Conan O'Brien on the late-night talk show Late Night with Conan O'Brien from 1993 to 1994,[35] before briefly writing for Late Show with David Letterman in 1995.[36] C.K. has stated that Conan O'Brien kept C.K. in comedy by hiring him, as he planned to quit comedy the following day if he had not been hired for Late Night with Conan O'Brien.[37]

C.K. met artist Alix Bailey at a New Year's Eve party in Boston when they both were 18. C.K. proposed to her five minutes later. C.K. was drunk and his breath smelled like vomit. She laughed at him. Fifteen years later, they met again in New York City through a mutual friend, C.K. proposed again and Bailey said yes.[38] They married in 1995. Together, they had two daughters.[39]

Throughout the spring of 1996, C.K. served as the head writer for The Dana Carvey Show; its writers also included Steve Carell, Stephen Colbert, Robert Smigel, and Charlie Kaufman. It was cancelled after seven episodes.[40] In 1996, HBO released his first half-hour comedy special.[31] From 1997 to 1999, he wrote for The Chris Rock Show.[41] His work for on the show was nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award for writing three times, winning "Best Writing in a Variety or Comedy Series" in 1999. He was also nominated for an Emmy for his work writing for Late Night with Conan O'Brien.[42] He has been quoted as describing his approach to writing as a "deconstruction" that is both painful and frightening.[18]

1998–2004: Focus on filmmaking

In 1998, C.K. wrote and directed the independent black-and-white film Tomorrow Night, which premiered at Sundance, marking his feature film directorial debut after making several shorter films,[43] including six short films for the sketch comedy show Howie Mandel's Sunny Skies (1995) on the Showtime cable network.[44] C.K. self-released Tomorrow Night in 2014.[45] He hosted the PBS show ShortCuts in 1999, which featured independent short films, including some made by C.K. himself.[46] Also that year, C.K. devised and starred in The Filthy Stupid Talent Show, a mock talent show television special.[47] He had an early acting role in the independent comedy Tuna, alongside Nick Offerman, in 2000 and performed on the stand-up showcase series Comedy Central Presents the following year.[48][49]

C.K. wrote and directed the feature film Pootie Tang (2001), which was adapted from a sketch that was featured on The Chris Rock Show and featured Chris Rock in a supporting role. The film received largely negative reviews from critics, but has become a cult classic;[50][51] in a half-star review, Roger Ebert declared it a "train wreck" and felt the film was "not in a releasable condition".[52] Though C.K. is credited as the director, he was fired at the end of filming with the film being re-edited by the studio.[53] C.K. has since co-written two screenplays with Rock: Down to Earth (2001) and I Think I Love My Wife (2007).[41][54] His first comedy album, Live in Houston, was released in 2001.[55] In 2002, he voiced Brendon Small's estranged father, Andrew Small, in the animated sitcom Home Movies.[56] C.K. was among the writing staff of the sketch comedy show Cedric the Entertainer Presents (2002–03).[41]

2005–2009: Breakthrough as a stand-up, Lucky Louie, and divorce

In August 2005, C.K. starred in a half-hour HBO special as part of the stand-up series One Night Stand. Inspired by the work ethic of fellow comedian George Carlin, who had committed to dropping all of his existing material and starting over every year,[57] In June 2006, C.K. starred in and wrote Lucky Louie, a sitcom he created. The series premiered on HBO and was videotaped in front of a studio audience; it was HBO's first series in that format. Lucky Louie is described as a bluntly realistic portrayal of family life. HBO canceled the series after its first season.[58] He appeared in three films in 2008: Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins, Diminished Capacity, and Role Models.[59][60] C.K. launched his first hour-long special, Shameless, in 2007, which aired on HBO and was later released on DVD.[61] In March 2008, he recorded a second hour-long special, Chewed Up, which premiered on Showtime Network on October 4, 2008, and was nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing for a Comedy or Variety Special.[7][62]

C.K. and his wife Alix Bailey divorced in 2008,[63][64] with C.K. and Bailey sharing joint custody of their children.[65] In a 2010 interview, C.K. talked about how, after his divorce, he thought, "well, there goes my act." He alluded to the way that his marriage had been central to his act and his life, and he said that it took him approximately a year to realize "I'm accumulating stories here that are worth telling."[65] One element in his preparation for stand-up was training at the same boxing gym as Lowell, Massachusetts fighter Micky Ward, trying to "learn how to ... do the grunt work and the boring, constant training so that you'll be fit enough to take the beating."[65]

On April 18, 2009, C.K. recorded a concert film titled Hilarious. Unlike his previous specials—which had all been produced for television networks—Hilarious was produced independently, directed by C.K. himself, and sold to Epix and Comedy Central after it was complete. As a result, it was not released until late 2010. It was published on DVD and CD in 2011.[66] It is the first stand-up comedy film accepted into the Sundance Film Festival.[67] From 2009 to 2012, C.K. played Dave Sanderson, a police officer and ex-boyfriend of Leslie Knope (played by Amy Poehler) in the sitcom Parks and Recreation.[68] He also co-starred in the romantic comedy fantasy film The Invention of Lying, directed by and starring Ricky Gervais, in 2009.[69]

2011–2015: Continued success, Louie, and FX deal

FX picked up C.K.'s series Louie in August 2009, which C.K. stars in, writes, directs, and edits.[70][71] The show features stand-up routines blended with segments partially based on his offstage experiences which address his life as a divorced, aging father.[65][72] The show premiered on June 29, 2010.[73] In season three, episodes dealt respectively with a date with an unstable bookshop clerk (played by Parker Posey);[74] a doomed attempt to replace a retiring David Letterman; an aborted visit to C.K.'s father; and a dream-reality New Year's Eve episode in which C.K. ends up in China.[75] These episodes were ranked in critic Matt Zoller Seitz's favorite 25 comedy episodes of 2012.[76] Seitz called the episode "New Year's Eve" "truly audacious".[75][76] C.K. has been nominated five times for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series (2011–2015) for his work in Louie and won two Emmys in 2011 for the Louie episode "Pregnant"[77] and for his special Live at the Beacon Theater.[78]

The show was renewed for a fourth season;[79] with a 19-month hiatus after season 3[26] to accommodate C.K.'s roles in David O. Russell's American Hustle and Woody Allen's Blue Jasmine in 2013.[80][81] During the 2014 Television Critics Association presentations, FX Networks' John Landgraf reported that Louie would return in spring 2015 for a shortened fifth season of seven episodes—compared to the 13 episodes of prior seasons.[82] The fifth season premiered in April 2015 and an announcement said the series would take an "extended hiatus" in August 2015;[83] C.K. stated in January 2016 that he "just doesn't know" whether it will return or not.[84] However, FX ended their business partnership with Louis C.K in November 2017 after he confirmed that a series of sexual misconduct allegations against him were true, meaning the show would have to be picked up by another network.[85]

On December 10, 2011, C.K. released his fourth full-length special, Live at the Beacon Theater. Like Hilarious, it was produced independently and directed by C.K. However, unlike his earlier work, it was distributed digitally on the comedian's website, foregoing both physical and broadcast media. C.K. released the special for $5.00 and without DRM, hoping that these factors and the direct relationship between the artist and consumer would effectively deter illegal downloading.[86] At the end of the special, the release of a new album, recorded at Carnegie Hall the previous year, is mentioned. By December 21, 2011, the sales of the special from C.K.'s website had already earned him over $1 million.[87]

The success of the special prompted other comedians, including Jim Gaffigan, Joe Rogan, and Aziz Ansari, to release their own specials with a similar business model.[88] On May 11, 2012, C.K. additionally made two audio-only downloads available for $5.00 each: WORD – Live at Carnegie Hall (and the audio version of his first HBO stand-up special, Shameless), as well as an audio-only version of Live at the Beacon Theater.[87] C.K.'s fifth one-hour special, Oh My God, was recorded at the Celebrity Theatre in Phoenix, Arizona, and premiered on HBO April 13, 2013.[89] It was also sold and distributed using the same model as C.K. used for Live at the Beacon Theater.

In Woody Allen's film Blue Jasmine (2013), C.K. played the romantic interest of Sally Hawkins' character.[90] Also that year, David O. Russell's black comedy crime film American Hustle, released in December 2013, featured C.K. as FBI supervisor Stoddard Thorsen, the boss of Bradley Cooper's character.[91] C.K.'s production company, Pig Newton, where he works with producer Blair Breard, signed a contract to develop and executive produce pilots for FX Networks in 2013.[92] In January 2014, an announcement said C.K. would produce and co-write a Zach Galifianakis-created comedy pilot for FX Networks.[93] The 10-episode single-camera comedy, titled Baskets, premiered on January 21, 2016.[94] It features Galifianakis as the main character, a struggling clown named Chip Baskets in a pilot episode written by Galifianakis, Louis C.K. and Jonathan Krisel.[95] C.K. released his sixth one-hour special Live at The Comedy Store to his website in January 2015, which, unlike his past few specials, was recorded at a club, The Comedy Store in West Hollywood. C.K. said he intended the material as an exercise in creating an act that hearkened back to his early days in comedy clubs.[96] The special premiered exclusively on FX on May 28, 2015.

In May 2015, it was announced that C.K. would write, direct, and star in the film I'm a Cop, to be produced by Scott Rudin, Dave Becky, and Blair Breard, with a budget of $8 million,[97] although he later canceled the project.[98] C.K. became the first comedian to sell out Madison Square Garden three times in a single tour in 2015.[5] Audio from the tour was released by C.K. on his website as Louis C.K.: Live at Madison Square Garden through the pay what you want model.[99] In November 2015, C.K co-starred in the biographical drama film Trumbo as a composite character based on five different screenwriters who were blacklisted in Hollywood for their alleged ties to the Communist party during the 1940s.[lower-alpha 2][101]

2016–2017: Web series and return to filmmaking

The media announced in January 2016 that C.K. and actor/comedian Albert Brooks would create, write, executive produce, and provide the voices for the two main characters in an animated series pilot for FX.[102] The following January, the series was announced to instead be premiering on TBS in 2018 and is titled The Cops, following two Los Angeles patrolmen.[103] On January 30, 2016, he released the first episode of the tragicomic drama series Horace and Pete to his website, without any prior announcements. C.K. directed, wrote, and starred in the series as bar owner Horace, alongside Steve Buscemi, who portrays co-owner Pete.[104] Horace and Pete pioneered the genre of 'sadcom'. James Poniewozik of The New York Times said the series "may best be described as a Cheers spec script by Eugene O'Neill: a snapshot of a family—and a country—suffering a hangover decades in the making."[105] The self-financed series received a significantly positive reaction from critics, who largely focused on the performances of the veteran cast that includes C.K., Buscemi, Edie Falco, Steven Wright, Alan Alda, and Jessica Lange and C.K.'s writing.[106][107] C.K. has expressed his interest in a second season.[108] C.K. next voiced the lead, Max, a Jack Russell Terrier, in the animated comedy film The Secret Life of Pets. The film was co-directed by Chris Renaud of the Despicable Me series, and was released on July 8, 2016.[109][110] It grossed over $875 million worldwide.[111][112] C.K. developed the series Better Things with its star Pamela Adlon, who had appeared on Louie. C.K. co-wrote, co-produced, and directed the pilot.[5] The show is about a single working actress mother and her struggles to raise three daughters.[113] It premiered in September 2016 on FX.[114] His stand-up special 2017 was filmed in Washington, D.C. and released on April 4, 2017, through the streaming service Netflix.[115]

C.K. directed the film I Love You, Daddy in secret, shooting entirely on black and white 35 mm film in June 2017.[116] The film follows a television producer and writer played by C.K. called Glen Topher whose teenage daughter, played by Chloë Grace Moretz, is seduced by a much older film director (John Malkovich), causing Topher to become disconcerted. The film also features Charlie Day, Adlon, Rose Byrne, Edie Falco and Helen Hunt.[117] It premiered at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival in September,[118] whereupon The Guardian film critic Peter Bradshaw gave the film a four-star review, calling it a "very funny and recklessly provocative homage to Woody Allen, channeling his masterpiece Manhattan."[117]

2015–2018: Sexual misconduct revelations

In 2015, comedian Roseanne Barr told The Daily Beast in an interview that "Some of the biggest comics, males, are doing some terrible things. And they're about to get busted." She went on to name C.K. specifically, stating that she had heard stories of "multiple accusations" of sexual offenses committed by him.[119] Barr added in a subsequent tweet that she had no idea if C.K. was a sexual offender or not, but said that given the number of accusations, he should address the rumors.[120] Two years later, in a September 2017 Vanity Fair interview, comedian Tig Notaro announced that she was cutting ties with C.K., a one-time collaborator and producer on her show One Mississippi, saying that he should address the rumors of sexual impropriety, and alluding to an unspecified "incident" between herself and C.K.[121] C.K. dismissed these allegations in a September 2017 New York Times interview, saying "They're rumors, that's all that is. I don’t know why she said the things she's said, I really don't. I don't think talking about that stuff in the press and having conversations over press lanes is a good idea."[122]

On November 9, 2017, The Orchard, distributor of C.K.'s upcoming film I Love You, Daddy, canceled the New York premiere of the film due to "unexpected circumstances", while a scheduled appearance by C.K. on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert promoting the movie was also canceled. The Hollywood Reporter ran a story claiming that a very damaging story on the comedian was about to be published in the New York Times, and the premiere was canceled to mitigate the damage.[123] Later that day, the Times did indeed publish allegations of sexual harassment against C.K. by five women.[124] These included comedy duo Dana Min Goodman and Julia Wolov, who claimed that they had been invited to C.K.'s hotel room in 2002 during the US Comedy Arts Festival, where he subsequently asked them if he could take out his penis. The pair claim that they believed C.K. was joking until he actually did it, and he subsequently removed all his clothing and asked for their permission to masturbate. They claim he subsequently began masturbating in a chair until he ejaculated onto his own stomach. The story claimed the two women were laughing at C.K.'s behaviour, and then they fled the hotel room and called ImprovOlympics founder Charna Halpern and relayed the experience.[124]

Other accusations followed, indicating a pattern of behavior. Comedian Abby Schachner said that, during a 2003 phone conversation, C.K. had complimented her appearance before audibly beginning to masturbate.[124] In another instance, comedian Rebecca Corry described how, on the set of a television pilot in 2005, C.K. had asked for permission to accompany her to her dressing room so that he could masturbate in front of her.[124] Corry and Schachner both added that C.K. had apologized to them for this behavior, though the apologies came several years later.[124]

C.K. initially refused to answer the allegations in public.[120] In a subsequent statement, he admitted to behavior that he initially thought "was O.K. because I never showed a woman my dick without asking first," and went on to express remorse for abusing his power in the industry "which disabled them from sharing their story and brought hardship to them when they tried."[125] Later that week, one of C.K.'s managers, Dave Becky, dropped C.K. as a client and apologized for a perceived "cover up".[126][127]

In the wake of the scandal, C.K continued to face harsh repercussions. The Orchard announced it would not distribute the film I Love You, Daddy,[128] and co-stars Chloë Grace Moretz and Charlie Day said they would not participate in the film's promotion.[129] FX Networks announced it was cutting ties with C.K., and Netflix announced that it would not be moving forward with a second planned stand-up special featuring the comedian.[130] HBO dropped C.K.'s appearance on an upcoming Night of Too Many Stars autism television special and removed his content from their on-demand services.[131] TBS suspended production of, and eventually scrapped its animated series The Cops.[132][133][134] Illumination, about to produce the animated children's film The Secret Life of Pets 2 in which C.K. was to star, terminated their relationship with him and hired Patton Oswalt as his replacement.[135] The Disney Channel also removed C.K. from reruns of Gravity Falls, redubbing his character's voice with series creator Alex Hirsch.[136]

C.K would later claim in 2018 that the fallout from the scandal had taken him through "hell and back" and cost him approximately $35 million in lost income.[137]

Return to stand-up comedy

On August 26, 2018, Louis C.K. made an unannounced appearance at the Comedy Cellar in Manhattan, New York. It was reported that he received an ovation from the audience, and performed a typical set making no reference to the sexual controversy.[138][139] His return to comedy nine months after admitting to sexual misconduct was criticized by comedians including Aparna Nancherla, Ian Karmel, Allie Goertz and Judd Apatow as being premature,[139][140] whereas Dave Chappelle, Chris Rock, Michael Che, Jim Gaffigan, Janeane Garofalo and Sarah Silverman have supported C.K.'s right to continue standup.[141][142][143][144][145] Comedian Jerry Seinfeld also supported C.K.'s return to standup but opined that the public may have felt that C.K had not owned up to his actions enough, saying in October 2018, "We know the routine: The person does something wrong. The person's humiliated. They're exiled. They suffer, we want them to suffer. We love the tumble, we love the crash and bang of the fall. And then we love the crawl-back. The grovel. Are you going to grovel? How long are you going to grovel?" Seinfeld added, "We, the court of public opinion, decided if he's going to come back, he'd better show a lot of pain. Because he denied (the public) that."[137]

On December 31, 2018, an audience member secretly recorded C.K. working out new material and posted it online. The comedy set included controversial topics such as Auschwitz, non-binary people and victims of the 2018 Parkland shooting.[146] The jokes drew condemnation from Parkland survivors and a divided reaction from fellow comedians.[147]

Other work

C.K. appeared several times on Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist,[148] and was a frequent guest on the Opie and Anthony radio show, which also featured his Lucky Louie co-star Jim Norton. C.K. was also a part of Opie and Anthony's Traveling Virus Comedy Tour with other comedians in 2007. In 2007, he hosted a three-hour phone-in show on the service at the request of Opie & Anthony, during which he advised callers on their relationship troubles.[149] During an interview with Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld on the show, C.K. repeatedly asked Rumsfeld whether he is in fact a reptilian space alien who "eats Mexican babies".[150] Rumsfeld declined to comment and the video has since gone viral.[150] In the Louie episode "Barney / Never", Opie, Anthony, and Norton (along with comedian Amy Schumer) play the on-air talent of a stereotypical wacky morning radio program into which C.K.'s character is calling to promote a gig in Kansas City.[151]

C.K. hosted Saturday Night Live on November 3, 2012 and was subsequently Primetime Emmy Award-nominated for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series.[42][152] He returned to host the show on March 29, 2014 and May 16, 2015 and received Emmy nominations for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series for both episodes.[7][153][154] On April 8, 2017, he hosted Saturday Night Live for a fourth time.[155] He executive-produced the pilot for the Amazon Video black comedy series One Mississippi, starring Notaro, in November 2015. It was ordered for a full season by Amazon.[156] Barry Crimmins's stand-up special, Whatever Threatens You, directed and produced by C.K., was released through his website in 2016.[157]

Ticketing innovation

C.K. innovated direct-to-consumer distribution in 2001 when he released his debut comedy album, Live in Houston, directly through his website. He became one of the first performers to use his website to offer direct-to-fan ticket sales to his stand-up shows, as well as DRM-free video concert downloads.[11] In this way, C.K. sold tickets for his stand-up tour, circumventing large ticket outlets (e.g., Ticketmaster) by bypassing their overhead and the venues they control.[78] C.K. has said the ticket outlets create barriers to consumers, whereas direct distribution is easy—and has effectively "closed the gap between how easy it was to steal it [versus] how easy it was to buy it".[11] The success of the special prompted other comedians, including Jim Gaffigan, Joe Rogan, and Aziz Ansari, to release their own specials with a similar business model.[88]


In 2011, by selling Live at the Beacon Theater on his website, C.K. earned a "million dollars in a matter of days, half of which he [gave] away to his staff and charities."[158] Recipients included the Fistula Foundation,[159] Green Chimneys, the Pablove Foundation, Charity: Water, and Kiva.[158]

In 2016, he selected the Fistula Foundation as the beneficiary of his Jeopardy! Power Players Week appearance, and won $50,000 for the charity.[160]


C.K. has cited many comedians who have had an influence on him, including George Carlin,[16] Woody Allen,[161] Larry David,[162] Joan Rivers,[163] Robin Williams,[164] Steve Martin,[15] Richard Pryor[165] and Bill Cosby.[166][167]

Political views

About political partisanship, C.K. stated, "Some things I think are very conservative, or very liberal. I think when someone falls into one category for everything, I'm very suspicious. It doesn't make sense to me that you'd have the same solution to every issue."[168] In March 2016, C.K. sent an email to those subscribed to his mailing list which was critical against the 2016 presidential race. C.K. stated he hoped for a conservative president but likened Republican Party presidential candidate Donald Trump to Adolf Hitler. He labeled Trump an "insane bigot" also adding, "He's not a monster. He's a sad man."[169][170][171] C.K. later referred to the e-mail as "irrational" and claimed he should never write his opinions again.[172]

Personal life

In November 2018, C.K. performed a stand-up show at the Théâtre de l'Œuvre in Paris, where he took the opportunity to confirm his relationship with Blanche Gardin, a French comedian, with whom he had been seen in the streets of New York the preceding month.[173] Gardin confirmed in November 2019 that they had broken up.[174]

Works and awards

Discography and comedy specials

Notes and references


  1. C.K.'s stage name is an approximate English pronunciation of his Hungarian surname, Székely [ˈseːkɛj],[3] as he explained on The Tavis Smiley Show on September 25, 2009.
  2. His character, Arlen Hird, is a composite character based on Alvah Bessie, Lester Cole, John Howard Lawson, Albert Maltz, and Samuel Ornitz.[100]


  1. "Louis C.K." PBS. September 25, 2009. Archived from the original on March 11, 2011. Retrieved August 29, 2018.
  2. Lais Jr., C.J. (August 18, 2006). "Louis C.K.: Home is where the angst is". The Times Union (Albany, New York). p. D1.
  3. LaRue, William (June 11, 2006). "HBO's New Comedy: Swear Words and All: 'Lucky Louie' Feels Like a Good Bet for Its Producer from CNY". The Post-Standard (Syracuse, New York). p. H1.
  4. Louis C.K.: Friday, 9/25. PBS. September 25, 2009. Event occurs at 07:41.
  5. C.K., Louie; Rose, Lacey (April 8, 2015). "Louis C.K.'s Crabby, Epic Love Letter to NYC: "Everyone's Dealing with the Same S— … Elbow to Elbow"". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved April 9, 2015.
  6. "Louie (FX)". The Peabody Awards. Retrieved April 22, 2015.
  7. "Louis C.K." Emmys. Retrieved April 22, 2015.
  8. "Louis C.K. – Awards". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved January 21, 2014.
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