While FX’s prestige dramedy Louie is on indefinite hiatus, that show’s star and creator Louis C.K. is serving on the network’s upcoming Zach Galifianakis vehicle Baskets as co-creator/EP – and providing a similar deadpan tonal cadence to the show.
In Baskets, Chip Baskets (Galifianakis, co-creator/EP) loses out on his dream to become a French clown in Paris and is forced to return to the suburban doldrums of Bakersfield, CA. But despite any hurdles he has with his family there, Chip is sort of living his dream as a rodeo clown. In a hysterical clip shown at TCA today, we see Galifianakis’ tortured artist, who just can’t quite get the respect he needs from his mother. She’s played in drag by stand-up comedian Louie Anderson who easily landed the role as Galifianakis and C.K. were specifically seeking out his voice. Totally not a stretch for Anderson, as he’s played his mother in his act.
Speaking about Baskets’ sense of nuanced reality, the show’s EP/showrunner Jonathan Krisel said, “We have a guy in drag, there’s slapstick and we’re doing broad comedy things, but in a more toned-down drama universe. I come from silly sketch stuff, but underneath (Baskets), there are far away shots and under-performances. This is a broad comedy with drama and we’re playing this stuff in a weird way.”
C.K., who has known Galifianakis on the comedy circuit for 20 years, said, “He knows people and studies people. He’s the most Jerry Lewis-funny, but he’s a more generous performer than I am in a lot of ways.”
“With comedy you run out of tricks, drama is easier,” said Galifianakis about which he prefers.
FX, particularly on C.K.’s show Louie, has had a reputation for being hands off, allowing the stand-up a significant amount of freedom in writing, shooting and editing his show. Typically, C.K. will meet with FX chief John Landgraf before he hammers out a season. On Baskets, C.K. said, “Landgraf saw him (Galifianakis) as a Chaplin-esque character; that there was more feeling in it. There’s a sadness to the character. He put it in a way that gave it direction…He’s a thoughtful guy.”
In keeping Baskets real, Krisel was set on using Costco and its Kirkland products as a backdrop on the show. “We asked if we could put their products in the show. They were like ‘Yeah, whatever you want to do.’ It’s not a matter of us making fun of them or not. It’s authenticity. (I find it) annoying whenever a show uses fake Coke in a shoot.”
As C.K. put it bluntly, “You’re not insulting Kirkland if you say their shit is everywhere.”
Baskets premieres Thursday, January 21 at 10PM.