Eric Liebowitz, FX
PASADENA, Calif. — Louie C.K. is not an angry man, he just plays one on TV.
OK, he's sort of angry.
But he's happy about his new comedy series, because "Louie" is exactly the show he wants it to be. Because he's the creator, executive producer, star, writer and director.
"I really want this show to have a good — to look good and be worth watching," C.K. said.
"Louie" is a sitcom sort of in the style of "Seinfeld." Part of the show is C.K.'s standup act, and the plot relates to what's in his act.
Well, that's sort of the way "Seinfeld" started out. Eventually, the stand-up elements became far less important.
Which probably won't happen with "Louis."
"The most effective way I have of communicating verbally is just on stage. So the material that I'd been sort of developing for my next standup special, I just started using that as caulk for the stories," he said. "And it just sort of grew out of that."
C.K. is playing a slightly fictionalized version of himself in "Louie."
"I've got two kids. I'm divorced, 42. I'm kind of heavy," he said.
And the episodes are, to some extent or another, based on his real life. Including the two plotlines in the premiere.
"One of them happened, and one didn't," C.K. said. "The bus story happened. I was on a school bus with my kid chaperoning a field trip, and we ended up on a highway that a bus doesn't belong on. And we hit an overpass.
"The second story is me on a date, which is sort of more a general feeling of what it's like for me when I date."
And what's that like?
"Dating is horrible. It's awful," he said.
Yet it makes for comedy. And "Louie" is singularly funny, drawing entirely from C.K. and his sensibilities.
(Like most of FX's shows, "Louie" is not for the entire family. There's some strong language you won't hear on the broadcast networks — not R-rated, but certainly PG-13.)
It's hard not to root for the creator/executive producer/star/writer/director.
"The two things that matter to me right now are this show and my kids," said C.K., who shares custody of his two daughters with his ex-wife. He sets the show's production schedule around the three or four days a week his girls are with him.
"I have such autonomy on the show that I built the schedule around my custody schedule with my kids," he said. "So when my kids come over to my house, I don't work. I just raise them.
"I cook all their meals, take them to school and everything, put them to sleep, read them stories, yell at them, and apologize for yelling at them and then realize I'm putting too much power in their hand. You know, all that stuff."
So it's the girls and "Louie."
"This (show) matters to me enormously," he said. "Yeah, this is a shot that I can't believe I got. I love this show."
WHAT'S IN A NAME? Louis C.K. is a real name. Sort of.
His real last name is Hungarian — Szekely, which "sounds like See-kay."
"When I was a little kid, I had an instructor in camp who used to call me Shnizneckely. He used to make fun of my name, and it hurt my feelings … and I cried. He said, 'Well, how do you say it?' And I said, 'See-kay.'