From the Archives: Unmasked With Louis C.K.

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“I never got used to going in that building. 30 Rock. Every time I went in, it I was like ‘I cant believe how cool this is.’ I worked there for two years and every day that I went in the building I was like this is – I felt like Mary Tyler Moore spinning around.”

“The odds of making it as a comedian are insanely low. It’s the dumbest thing to do, almost in the world. I think actor is worse. But anyway, most comedians, the odds are so slim that why wouldn’t you treat it like you’re an Olympic athlete? You know? Kids that want to be Olympic skaters, they get up at four in the morning so they can skate for three hours before school. And then they skate after school. It’s crazy what they go through, and most of them don’t get to skate in the Olympics. But most comedians literally smoke pot and don’t do anything.”

“The first time I said on stage that was kind of the one joke that changed it all. I said, ‘My wife and I had sex, which is amazing… because we never have sex ‘cause we have a baby and our baby’s a fucking asshole.’ And I said that the first time– I just said it because I was like ‘Fuck you, I’m on stage. I’ll say what I want, then I’ll do a funny joke and they’ll forget it.’ And I did that and it got this huge laugh, and I was like ‘Weird.’”

As part of our new podcast sharing select archival episodes of ’s epic interview series Unmasked, this week we are going way back to 2008 to share a fascinating hour:  Unmasked with Louis C.K.

The Unmasked series which began in 2008 with a brilliant hour with Patrice O’Neal has taped nearly 200 episodes since, documenting the careers of the most interesting comedy writers, directors, filmmakers, actors, screenwriters, satirists, political comedians, comedic musicians and of course, stand up comedians in the business. It is a veritable archive of the greatest comedy of our time. Past Unmasked guests have included , Bob Newhart, , Dan Aykroyd, Simon Pegg, , , Jim Jefferies, Gilbert Gottfried, Bobcat Goldthwait, Louis C.K., David Brenner, , and over 150 more comedy greats.

Back in 2008,  sat down with Louis C.K. in front of a packed house at Comix Comedy Club in New York City.

Everyone knows who Louis C.K. is, and it feels like he’s always been a giant celebrity.  His stand up ranks him among the funniest people in the world and the list of comedians whose material has been inspired by Louis is almost as big as the list of every comedian working today. Not only is he at the top of the stand up pyramid, since the giant critical success of his FX show Louie, he’s become a giant in television, producing some of the best shows on TV today, and his recent web series, Horace and Pete, is absolutely groundbreaking, not only for its content, but also for its process.

But C.K.’s fame is so cemented in comedy culture that it’s hard to believe there was a time when Louis was wrestling to have his point of view heard. Back in 2008, he had already achieved critical and popular notoriety in stand up, but had yet to have a success on television. In fact, when he sat down with to tape this episode of Unmasked, he had just learned that his first series, Lucky Louie, had been cancelled by HBO. He talks about handling that disappointment in the hour, and his thoughts are inspiring and fascinating, but that’s just a tiny piece of what makes this hour a personal favorite.

Louis talks about growing up, and being an uncomfortable kid, even in elementary school. Louis goes through his comedy timeline- stopping off in fourth grade to tell the story of the first time he ever got on stage, and then fifth grade when he got gigantic laughs by accident, and then ultimately to his first time actually going on stage at an open mic at Boston’s Comedy Connection. It’s hard to say which story is funnier- the story of his first set, how he got on stage the second time (when Kevin Meaney basically brought him up on stage to laugh “at” him) or what he did to get on stage for the third time (I’ll let you be surprised), but every story is funny, and sad and funny again.

The hour is full of great advice, and stories of failures and successes and how C.K. handled each setback and step forward. He talks about getting a job with Caroline’s Comedy Hour; how he became a writer on Late Night with O’Brien; how running out of material helped him to find his voice as a stand up, and he tells the story behind his controversial 2006 appearance on The View, when he was ambushed by Barbara Walters.

Fans and comedians will love this hour. Share it with someone else who loves comedy.

Recorded on June 27, 2008 in New York City, at Comix Comedy Club, this is Unmasked, from the Archives, with Louis C.K. and Ron Bennington.

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