Over the last decade, and particularly in recent years, Louis CK has stepped up as the outstanding comedian of his generation. Like all the greats he has a provocative style, but his friendly, average-guy demeanor tends to sand down the points of his exceedingly savage social commentary, making it just digestible enough for a mass audience to eat up, only to wonder after the fact what they just swallowed. And while one can only wonder how much compromise goes into the career of anyone who makes it to the level of having their own network television show, on the surface at least, Louis CK has made a reputation for expressing himself on his own terms, and directly challenging the systems that keep the entertainment industry free of dangerous ideas, as well as making money for the top of the industry food chain.
On Friday night, Louis CK sold out the Masonic Temple — the only venue in Detroit, as he was eager to point out, which allowed for his strategy of reducing ticket costs by eschewing TicketMaster and selling tickets directly through his own website. The capacity crowd of 4,800 reflected CK’s fanbase — largely white and suburban — and though there was a native Detroit contingent present, it was only the influx of patrons from the suburbs that allowed for CK’s choice to kick off the set with a few minutes of Detroit-bashing (the only dark spot for me in an evening that was otherwise priceless in its entertainment value).
Beyond that, the evening’s topics ranged all over the spectrum, but tended — as does his wildly popular TV show, Louie on FX network — to revolve around CK’s own experiences and struggles to interact with other humans, highlighted by both his outwardly awkward nature in these interactions, as well as his frank admission of his less-than-sterling inner reactions. The overall atmosphere was one of extreme enthusiasm, and the capacity crowd flooding the steps of the Masonic Temple were already engaged in that hallmark of a successful comedy show, replaying their favorite bits to each other. To mimic the hook he presented in his jaw-dropping encore: Of course, Louis CK has an amazing capacity for appreciation and criticism of the human experience, but maybe next time he could take it a little easier on a town that was so incredibly pleased to receive him.