Louis CK Plays Abraham Lincoln, America’s 16th President and (Yes) Stand-Up Comedian Too

Abra­ham Lin­coln fret­ted over the tim­ing of eman­ci­pa­tion, Gen­er­al George McClel­lan’s reluc­tance to take deci­sive action, North-South reuni­fi­ca­tion, and his wife’s men­tal insta­bil­i­ty.

Louis CK wor­ries about sex, his kids, and the decline of his flab­by, mid­dle-aged body.

The ten­den­cy to dwell on weighty mat­ters makes CK a fit­ting choice to embody our 16th pres­i­dent  on the small screen. (A dis­tinc­tion shared by such lumi­nar­ies as Lance Hen­rik­sen and Sam Water­ston, though not at the behest of Sat­ur­day Night Live). Movie star Daniel Day-Lewis’ cur­rent­ly run­ning por­tray­al may net him a Best Actor Triple Crown come awards sea­son, but CK’s the one who takes Abe to anoth­er dimen­sion, tai­lor­ing the Great Empan­ci­pa­tor to fit the estab­lished tem­plate of his own crit­i­cal­ly acclaimed sit­com.

His­to­ry comes alive in a whole new way as the stovepipe-hat­ted, pudgi­er-than-nor­mal Lin­coln trudges up from the sub­way, chok­ing down an anony­mous West Vil­lage slice to get him through a set at the Com­e­dy Cel­lar. Abe’s rou­tine on slave own­er­ship has def­i­nite echoes of Louis’ Sea­son One mus­ings on bes­tial­i­ty, a there-but-for-the-grace-of-god-go‑I flir­ta­tion res­cued by pro­fan­i­ty-laced moral out­rage.

No dis­re­spect to Day-Lewis’ First Lady Sal­ly Field, but there’s sim­i­lar fresh­ness to be found in Sat­ur­day Night Live reg­u­lar Aidy Bryant’s inter­pre­ta­tion of Mary Todd Lin­coln. Par­tic­u­lar­ly  when one fac­tors in a Direc­tor’s Cut that restores the pet­ti­coat peel­ing mate­r­i­al cut from the late night broad­cast.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

David Lynch Teach­es Louis C.K. How to Host The David Let­ter­man Show

How the Great George Car­lin Showed Louis CK the Way to Suc­cess (NSFW)

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