“Louie” has got to have the highest laugh-to-wince ratio in the history of televised comedy.
The FX series, which begins its second season at 10:30 p.m. ET Thursday (June 23), looks a little more polished than it did in its first go-round last year. Star-writer-director-editor Louis C.K. is also giving his stories a little more room: Three of the first four episodes FX sent out for review are dedicated to a single story, as opposed to the two-vignette structure C.K. used about half the time last season.
But it’s still just about the most painfully funny show on TV, as C.K. continues to mine his experiences as a working comic and divorced father of two girls for sometimes hilarious, sometimes morose and constantly sharply observed slices of life. Thursday’s premiere deals with his reluctance to connect to other people — as expressed through a medical crisis involving his visiting sister (guest star Rusty Schwimmer) — and although there’s ultimately a punchline, it’s a dark, sad story.
Our favorite of the episodes FX sent out is probably the fourth, scheduled to air July 14. After bombing at an Atlantic City casino, he gets into a long, vodka-fueled conversation with Joan Rivers, who’s playing the bigger theater in the same hotel. It’s hilarious, but it’s also a pretty fascinating glimpse of two comics talking shop. It just works.
A small piece of that episode, along with a few other bits from Season 2 and highlights of Season 1, are collected in the longish (and NSFW) video below. It’s a good way to gear up for Thursday’s premiere.