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Louie and reconciliation as entertainment
I’ve been catching up all of the seasons of Louie. Admittedly, I watched it because of Seinfeld’s cameo in the show and I’m a little bit of a super-fan (same reason I started watching Curb Your Enthusiasm and 30 Rock). The show is a little too vulgar, but there is an earnestness and honesty in Louie C.K.’s comedy that is quite compelling to me. He characterizes the trouble of a divorced 40-something in a way that is both hilarious and heart-breaking. Louie needs Jesus, of course, but it is amazing that he is being like Jesus to others throughout the program.
Although we see this as he relates to his friends and his daughters, Louie, despite his general narcissism and self-pity that is the key to his comedy, is a pretty compassionate person. It seems to me like he’s burned some bridges, but watching him try to restore them is quite amazing. Whereas, tabloids seem to get their sales by telling us all about celebrity relationship problems, Louie’s reconciliation processes are the entertainment. It is almost the opposite of my dear Seinfeld, which makes most of its jokes at other's expenses.
The most famous example of this is Louie C.K.’s conflict with Dane Cook. Several years ago, Louie’s friends, although apparently never Louie himself, accused Dane Cook of stealing some of Louie’s jokes. That Dane Cook and his brand of humor and target audience were much different than the typical comics is central to the issue. The comradery among other comedians, which the aforementioned Seinfeld exhibits in his Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, is special and not for everyone. I personally hate that Dane Cook is the “jock’s comedian,” delivering the “bros humor.” The exclusion that the high school jock enjoyed in his high school with his football jacket and clique is reversed in this case. The inevitable social outcastness that is so many Woody-Allen-influenced have made very popular is that clique that now excludes Dane Cook from their cadre. Dane Cook is set up to be vilified for stealing jokes.
Louie had him on his show and they seemed to try and work out their relationship. The scene felt tense, and subsequently genuine. Apparently, it was dramatized and the tension between the two was never that high, but Louie seemed to do it to honor Cook, to cool down the community of comics who defended him.
A similar thing happened with Marc Maron, a longtime acquaintance of Louie, who had a major falling out that is showcased on the show. In fact, in the season four finale, Maron accuses Louie of being a particularly bad friend who is both unavailable and jealous. Maron invited Louie on his podcast. In a very long, almost two hour, interview, the two of them work out their relationship with a surprising level of vulnerability.Their candidness is contagious. It makes me want to work out all of my relational problems.
I’m not sure what it is about broadcasting reconciliation or apologies or why celebrities do it at all. (Remember earlier this year when Macklemore Instagrammed his apology text to Kendrick Lamar after he won his Grammy?) There is something about that reconciliation that is more entertaining for us than just the drama and the beef.
We want people to work things out. We want them to get through their problems. And it feels good when they do and they share their story.
Jesus works it out with us. We are reconciled to him and forgiven. His is the ultimate story of reconciliation. When we forgive each other and overcome our trouble, we are modeling Christ’s behavior.
We would rather avoid that difficulty than forgive the individual, I know. Louie demonstrates this when he so doesn’t want to see his father, than he starts spontaneously vomiting and breaks out in a rash. When the time comes to see him, he runs off and ends up on a boat in the middle of the bay. We want to run from the relationships that are a challenge to participate in.
Jesus has another way, and when we see the world modeling it, we are marveled. There are problems with a public broadcast of your apology, but it does lead others and it may cause them to do the same. Although these things can happen because of all of the eyes watching him and he wants to be the “good guy,” I’d rather just see the positive in it this time. For Louie, he might be changing how many of us perceive reconciliation and the importance to do it in our lives.