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Sundance Review: Louis C.K.: Hilarious

By  · Published on January 27th, 2010

Reviewing a concert film, and more specifically a comedy show film isn’t easy. In fact, it is tough to provide much insight beyond “it’s funny” or “it’s not funny.” But as Louis C.K. might say, these are white people problems. Problems that don’t matter whatsoever. Problems like having to select a language at the ATM machine, then complaining about it. We’re a spoiled people, and movie bloggers may be the worst. So I’m over this white person problem, and I’m off to tell you why Louis C.K.’s Hilarious is indeed, very funny.

It would be a sin to call the film “hilarious,” as Louis himself goes off in one of the film’s funniest segments, about some people’s use of the word hilarious. Hilarious (technically) means that something is so funny it drives to to insanity. So when you hear someone tell you that something inane is “hilarious,” its hogwash. So while Louis’ movie didn’t drive me insane, causing me to live homeless in the gutter because I’m without the ability to function, it was pretty goddamn funny. It brings to mind the likes of George Carlin and Richard Pryor in the way that the audience laughs not in waves, but constantly. In fact, I found it encouraging that the audience in the movie theater seemed to be overpowering the audience laughs in the movie. And lets just say that Sundance didn’t have the sound turned down.

Then comes the talk about the film itself, which is the hard part. I’ve already said that it’s funny. What more do you need?

What sets this film apart from other comedy show films is the intimate experience. Having two cameras on stage with him and one floating out above the audience, he creates the sensation that we’re actually watching the show, not just watching a concert movie. In fact, I can’t remember seeing any discernible members of the audience. It was as if there was this vague audience that was merely and extension of the audience in the theater. As if this show is simply for those of us in the movie audience, and we’re seeing it for the first time – even though Louis practiced this routine for a year before shooting the film. It’s a great experience, and one that is refreshing. Too often watching a comedy show involves shots of the audience laughing and big sweeping shots of the theater.

As anyone whose seen Louis C.K. can tell you, he does not need the theatrics. The man is funny enough. His philosophy of comedy is to take his audience to a place where they don’t want to go (and are likely offended), but to bring them back glad to have gone there.

Neil Miller is the persistently-bearded Publisher of Film School Rejects, Nonfics, and One Perfect Shot. He's also the Executive Producer of the One Perfect Shot TV show (currently streaming on HBO Max) and the co-host of Trial By Content on The Ringer Podcast Network. He can be found on Twitter here: @rejects (He/Him)