This past summer, Louis C.K. teamed up with friend and fellow comic Barry Crimmins, producing and directing Crimmins’ first hour special, Whatever Threatens You. Since then, fans have been waiting for the special’s release, and in true Louis C.K. fashion, rather than announcing a release date for the special, tonight the special just appeared. In a newsletter to his fans, C.K. announced that Crimmins’ special is now available for purchase through louisck.net. It’s $5 to download the special and you can get it here.
Shot in Lawrence, Kansas, the special is an important one for both comics. Crimmins is a criminally underrated comic who has managed to fly under many comedy fans’ radars despite being one of the industry’s smartest, most creative performers. Having known Crimmins for decades, C.K. was aware of this as well; the reason he volunteered to produce and direct the special was because he wanted to help his friend gain some more recognition. The resulting special, painstakingly shaped by Crimmins for two years on the road, shows (as C.K. put it) “a great comic and a prime and only example of what comedy is at its best.”
“Barry is a legend. A great mind, an author and activist and political satirist. He has been an important voice of passion and reason since the 1970s. He has stood before thousands of audiences of every size and type and told them the truth with wit and wisdom, with anger and compassion. Barry was a towering example to me when I started doing standup at age 18. He fostered the comedy scene that I cut my teeth on and later became my friend. More than all of that, I am his fan. I love his voice. He makes me laugh. He’s always right. There has NEVER been another comic like him. “
In the newsletter, C.K. goes into great detail about how he and Crimmins met and how important Crimmins was to C.K.’s career and the Boston comedy scene in the 80’s (C.K. describes Crimmins as “like the godfather of the whole thing”). Louis shares his own origin story in the email, and where Barry fit in to it all. He starts at his own stand up beginning in 1985, hearing on the radio that you could come sign up and get on stage for five minutes in a Boston club. He discovered that there was an entire scene filled with “Juliard [sic] level performance skills and Mark Twain-level writing” and remembered seeing local guys who were better than anyone on television. Louis names the giants (Steve Sweeney, Jimmy Tingle, Don Gavin, Mike Donovan, Teddy Bergeron, Lenny Clarke, Ron Lynch, Joe Yanetty [sic], Kenny Rogerson, DJ Hazard, Mike McDonald), the hot younger comics (Dana Gould, Tom Kenney [sic], Paul Kozlowski, Billy Martin, Rich Ceisler, Frank Santarelli, Fran Salomita, Ed Driscoll, Zito and Bean, Fred Wilson, Tony V, Denis Leary) and the up and coming new kids on the block (Louis himself along with Marc Maron, Nick Dipaolo [sic], David Cross, Laura Kightlinger, Janine Garafolo [sic], Wendy Leibman [sic], Sam Seider, John [sic] Benjamin, Jonathan Groff, Brian Frazier [sic], Amir Gollan).
But it was Barry Crimmins, and Kevin Meaney who he credits with making all of it happen, when they started the Boston Comedy scene about eight years before Louis showed up for his first open mic, in a Chinese restaurant called the Ding Ho. He describes Barry as “an intense, dark man with a full beard and glaring eyes,” “bear-like” and “a genius animal raised in the wilderness, who was educated at Oxford.” Barry, he said, set the bar for creativity, and originality in Boston, and without Barry, everything would be different.
“When Barry went on stage, people listened. Every comedian in the room would face the stage and watch him and listen. He was brilliant and compelling and he was “fuckin’ Smaht”. And he gave a bit of that to everyone else. He was also funny as hell. His jokes were sharp. He had a wicked fast ball, like Dennis Eckersly [sic] . He would explain the truth of a global situation and lay the groundwork through a quick education of the human condition and then ignite the atmosphere with a crackling joke.
C.K. also takes time to reminisce about the late Kevin Meaney, who passed away at the age of 60 just a few days ago. Meaney was another founding father of that Boston comedy scene who, along with Crimmins, had a profound impact on C.K.’s life and career. The letter, as with most postings from C.K., is incredibly genuine and heartfelt; anyone interested in the behind-the-scenes details of these comedy juggernauts would do well to check it out over on C.K.’s website.
This is how C.K. ends the letter:
“I’m also not regretful to have this opportunity, though it’s messy in timing, to tell you how I feel about my friend and mentor who is gone at the same time I can tell you how I feel about my friend and mentor who lives on and to bring you his work and his voice and his greatness.
Ladies and Gentlemen, Barry Crimmins…”