In 2001, Louis C.K. hit a low when his first studio feature, Pootie Tang, which he wrote and directed, bombed. A decade later the stand-up comedian cannot be hotter, with his FX series Louie enjoying critical and commercial success. But the two are strangely related, Louis C.K. said today during the TCA session for Louie.
“Pootie Tang was a huge mistake, it should have never have been made,” he said. “That experience was very painful, I was sucking at making the movie and got fired off of it, and they put my name on it anyway…. But failing at Pootie Tang is one of the reasons for why this show is good. The army of failures I’ve had are the reasons that I’m good at what I’m doing now.” That army included Louis C.K.’s previous series, Lucky Louie on HBO. “Information you gain from having a season of television that failed on Lucky Louie is incredibly valuable,” he said. Still, given his track record, Louis C.K. admits he would’ve hired himself. “If I was FX, I wouldn’t have given me what they gave me.” What the network gave him was free reign, and he wouldn’t have had in any other way. “If they won’t let me do a show the way I want it to be done, I won’t do it,” Louis C.K. said. “I don’t need it. I can go on the road and do comedy. I don’t need this shit.”
That said, Louis C.K. is happy with how his series has evolved. “I know I got better at everything in the second season. I worked much harder, and it made the show richer. I think any show gets better over time, I hope so. If not, it should get canceled.” But the insecurity that is a trade mark of his onscreen character quickly cropped up. “Of course there is still a decline coming,” Louis C.K. said. “I’m terrified that Season 3 won’t be as good as Season 2. I’m not sleeping very well right now, I still have a lot to keep me depressed.”
But overall, “I’ve always been cheerful,” Louis C.K. said. “I’m really grateful, I feel really lucky and definitely take in a lot of joy from what I get to do and having people like it is great. I’d be a real asshole to not know that I’m having a great life right now.”
Two other tidbits from the session:
“The hardest thing on the show is acting with my daughter Ursula (Parker). It pays off the most because it’s gold, but she’s headstrong and bossy and it’s very tough. She gets excited by the power. I’m burning film trying to raise this kid.”
On mastrubation, a frequent theme on the show. “There really is a blissful, beautiful idea behind not masturbating. If I could stop I’d be really happy. But I think it’s more interesting to illuminate shit than to opinionate about it.”
Ray Richmond is contributing to Deadline’s TCA coverage.
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