The Surreal Short Films of Louis C.K., 1993–1999

To some fans of his not-exact­ly-a-sit­com Louie, Louis C.K. sim­ply appeared a few years ago, ful­ly formed and acclaimed by his peers as per­haps the most skilled, ded­i­cat­ed comedic crafts­men work­ing today. But he does have a past, stretch­ing back well beyond his voice role on the ani­mat­ed series Home Movies and his direc­tion of the film Pootie Tang, and he has offered up enter­tain­ing frag­ments of it online. Above you’ll find his ear­li­est known short film, Ice Cream. Begin watch­ing this black-and-white med­i­ta­tion on the vagaries of dis­af­fect­ed twen­tysome­thing love in the nineties — one which opens in a con­ve­nient store, no less — and you’ll imme­di­ate­ly think of Kevin Smith’s Clerks. But C.K. made Ice Cream in 1993, the year before Clerks came out, and it tilts in direc­tions even Smith would­n’t dare pre­dict, ulti­mate­ly arriv­ing at a mari­achi band-scored finale.

Just above, we have 1998’s Hel­lo There. In four min­utes, the film fol­lows a cata­ton­ic-look­ing fel­low (played by come­di­an Ron Lynch) wear­ing a poor­ly fit­ting suit and a cas­sette recorder around his neck as he makes his way through town. “Excuse me,” his machine says when he press­es its play but­ton, “do you have the cor­rect time?” A bystander ner­vous­ly answers. “Hel­lo there,” his speak­er blares to a bum doz­ing in a card­board box, “is that a new hat? You are a good guy.”

As the morn­ing con­tin­ues, we come to under­stand that this eccen­tric is not the only one of his kind. Below you can watch that same year’s Brunch, which throws the ver­bal­ly NSFW come­di­an Rick Shapiro into a sharply observed mid-morn­ing hud­dle of pon­tif­i­cat­ing senior cit­i­zens. These all come from Louis C.K.s offi­cial Youtube chan­nel, and indeed, C.K. pre­scient­ly made them in a form neat­ly suit­ed to the Youtube era, just as Louie has proven an ide­al artis­tic, intel­lec­tu­al, and finan­cial fit for the mod­ern cable tele­vi­sion land­scape.

Louis C.K.‘s short films: Ice Cream (1993), The Let­ter V (1998), The Leg­end of Willie Brown (1998), Ugly Revenge, Hijack­er (1998), Hel­lo There (1998), Brunch (1998), Per­sona Ne’ll Aqua (1999),Search­ing for Nixon

(via Metafil­ter)

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Sein­feld, Louis C.K., Chris Rock, and Ricky Ger­vais Dis­sect the Craft of Com­e­dy (NSFW)

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

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

Col­in Mar­shall hosts and pro­duces Note­book on Cities and Cul­ture and writes essays on lit­er­a­ture, film, cities, Asia, and aes­thet­ics. He’s at work on a book about Los Ange­les, A Los Ange­les Primer. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall.

by | Permalink | Comments (2) |

Sup­port Open Cul­ture

We’re hop­ing to rely on our loy­al read­ers rather than errat­ic ads. To sup­port Open Cul­ture’s edu­ca­tion­al mis­sion, please con­sid­er mak­ing a dona­tion. We accept Pay­Pal, Ven­mo (@openculture), Patre­on and Cryp­to! Please find all options here. We thank you!

Comments (2)
You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.
  • Jeremy Sklar says:

    You must, must MUST include on the list of Louis C.K. gems the Sun­dance Mid­night Mad­ness fea­ture “Tomor­row Night.” I’m not sure why this piece of bril­liance has­n’t been dis­trib­uted, but I believe it is about to be sold on Louis’ web­site pret­ty soon. Here’s a trail­er for it if any­one is inter­est­ed. Full dis­clo­sure: I’m the star of the movie’s broth­er, but I’m telling you, I’m a bru­tal­ly hon­est film geek, and this film is bril­liant!

  • manwithdog says:

    The David Lynch influ­ence is evi­dent in Ice Cream. Some scenes, like din­ner with girl­friend’s fam­i­ly, seem like Eraser­head par­o­dies.

Leave a Reply

Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.