Is Louis CK a Shameless Whore?

Written by  //  May 18, 2012  //  Comedic Endeavors, The Theatre  //  2 Comments

Or just a master of self-promotion?

 

Editor’s Note: On May 12, in an effort to promote his latest standup release and the upcoming third season of the FX produced Louie, comedian Louis CK sent out an email blast (which has been included at the end so don’t get your panties in a bunch) to his fans which contained links to download his specials for $5 each. What follows is a conversation between venerated Donnybrook film critics Christopher Gilmore and Fritz Godard regarding the credibility of engaging in such online marketing practices. They get deep, so be warned.

FG: So, you wanted to talk about an email you received. This sounds like a valid use of my time.

CG: Not just any email, an email from Louis CK.

Just to be clear, not a personal email. An email blast promoting new products on his site, correct?

Correct. Louis CK’s risk to release a DRM version of his standup special made him Lonely Island rich and after five months he’s back, pimping a few standup related wares for the same five dollar price point. How great is that Louis CK cracked the code for making money online?

It’s the worst. Because of this email every two-bit hack working at something longer than twenty minutes will think that they deserve some fat Louis CK cash for their efforts.  He ruined creativity on the internet.

How has he ruined creativity?

Artists, writers, comedians, filmmakers, craft gawkers and anyone else that has the horrible delusion that they are somehow creative want to get to a place where they can sell what they do on the internet. And stupidly, this just reinforces the belief that in order to do that you need a big presence on the web (aka: social media) or a huge email list. These spoiled wannabe half artists will now spend even more time on the Twitter. How is replying @someone going to make you better at what you do? It won’t.

Let me stop you right there. What you’re assuming here is that all you have to do is just be online and people will like your stuff. It takes more than just sharing Avengers memes and telling people congratulations for graduating college to get to a web presence. There’s nothing more depressing than pouring your heart and soul into something only to see that it’s gotten twenty views and one like from an ex-girlfriend Facebook stalker. That my friend, is how you separate the wheat from the chaff. Louis CK I’m sure had a million similar soul stomping situations. That’s what makes an artist great: their willingness to fight through every thought of self doubt to continue to create. Louis CK has earned the right to charge five dollars for making us laugh.

That’s another thing, the way Louis CK is doing this feels a little calculated. The whole email is written in this way that is very Louis CK, where there is little doubt that he didn’t write his own email blast.

Wait, first you say that you don’t wants artist to waste time on social networking so they can develop their skills or voice or whatever, and then you call out Louis for using his voice in his email blast?

It’s not that, for me it’s him playing this savvy-business-man-card under the guise of a talented equivalent of Larry the Cable Guy’s good ol’ boy shtick. Both comedians are making a ton of money off their well established personas, granted there is more artistic merit in the opening credits of Louis than there is in every joke or “Get ‘er dun” mud flaps Larry the Cable Guy’s ever sold. But, if people are going to call his fans dumb for liking/falling for his persona, they have to live up to the fact that they are just as susceptible to liking someone who’s just as charming, albeit more talented.

You’re an idiot. It’s not the same as Larry the Cable Guy’s obviously pandering to his right wing audience. This is charming, in as much as poor spelling can be charming.  Louis CK takes a huge risk, puts something out there with no DRM and just hopes everyone finds it in the goodness of their heart not to steal it. And all you can do is compare him to one of the worst comedians of all time. You’re insane and ungrateful.

Gratitude is a luxury critics cannot afford. And really it wasn’t as big of a risk as it seems. Louis CK developed this honest and sincere voice and he’s such a master at it that his audience looks at him with the same respect they would a friend, so of course they’ll pay five dollars for a comedy special.

So you’re saying that Louis CK is just putting on airs about being a down to earth guy that kills at offensive observational humor?

I’m not saying that Louis CK has created the character Louis CK or that the sincerity is just an act. I’m saying he’s developed a way to be revealing about himself that comes across as natural, as opposed to something that’s attention seeking or blatantly a misdirection for hidden motives. Releasing the stand-up that was the basis for the much championed season two of Louie a month and half before season three begins is perfect for FX and everyone involved with that show.  This is marketing savvy, and I would LOVE to think that all of this is from the mind of Louis CK, but he’s a comic genius, so it makes it hard for me to believe he’s a marketing genius too.

And possibly he became a marketing genius by developing his social media skills. Is there anything about this email that you liked or do you think the whole things is just dooming the western world’s creativity?

All hope for creativity is gone, but that’s another topic altogether. What, other than your fanboy devotion, drove you to bring this topic up?

Well, I dunno, I guess I just like the whole fairness of it. DRM’s seem like the consumer isn’t getting screwed, and he’s releasing the audio version of the show free for everyone who already bought it. It just feels like Louis CK is treating his audience like adults and that’s refreshing.

So, to make money on the internet you need to be dedicated to your craft and treat your audience like adults. More life lessons from Louis CK.

About the Author

Fritz Godard

Fritz Godard is Donnybrook's film columnist, world-renowned filmmaker, and reason behind Marilyn Monroe's demise.

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2 Comments on "Is Louis CK a Shameless Whore?"

  1. Ivyy May 18, 2012 at 10:29 am · Reply

    Team Louis CK all the way- I don’t care if he’s a shameless promoter or using a ‘persona’ to get people to believe in him or whatever, he figured out how to make a lot of money by offering a thing for a fair price to people who WANTED the thing, and then he paid his staff fairly AND gave a shitton to charity!! Good on him. http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/entertainment/2011/12/louis-c-k-780000-from-beacon-theater-special-online-sales-going-to-staff-charity/

  2. Sir Nigel Hawthorne Creamispy III May 19, 2012 at 7:51 am · Reply

    Team Louie for sure. I admire the hell outta that guy! As an ‘every man’ his material and persona really appeal to me. Nice write on this.

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