Louis CK Air Canada Centre, Toronto ON, January 26
Published Jan 27, 2017Even if you walked into the Air Canada Centre thinking that Louis C.K. is the greatest standup comedian alive right now, you'd still be unprepared for how overwhelmingly funny and thoughtfully provocative his new act is. The man effortlessly stole our breath, as we struggled to keep up with one devastating bit after the next.
After short, strong opening sets by his friends Joe Machi, Rachel Feinstein, and Joe List, C.K. set the tone right away, slyly marvelling at the size of the crowd in this arena in Toronto he was headlining for the first time. "Man, there are a lot of people here," he said. "But more people than this fucked all our mothers."
He expanded upon this sentiment for quite a while, forcing us to at least fleetingly contemplate our mothers engaged in sexual intercourse with unknown people, before we all realized that yes, mathematically, the odds were good that more people had sex with all of our mothers than could fill the Air Canada Centre. Solid point.
That's the thing about Louis C.K.: if anyone else said the things he says, best case scenario, they'd be shunned by society; worst case scenario they'd do a bid in a jail cell or hospital bed. The man has made an art out of highbrow profanity; he has charm and swagger and a mind that is brilliantly broken.
From his bit about abortion, punctuated by his justifications for why women should be able to kill babies, to an ingenious rant about how it's clear Christianity "won" religion because everyone everywhere is counting our days using the A.D. system — any descriptions fail to truly capture the nuance and structure and work he puts into conveying these things with precise timing and rhythm. It's a very visceral thing; internal groaning at an out-of-hand joke is masked by involuntary laughter.
Even the thought of C.K. talking about his dad's dick, how junior high dating works, the racist accents he employed to entertain his young daughters, the way Magic Mike has left him confused about his 49 years of sexuality, pulling pranks on his friends, or that racist chicken — it all triggers some semblance of hyperventilation less than 24 hours later.
Toronto marked the end of a long tour and Louis C.K., in a dapper suit instead of his customary black t-shirt and jeans, took this shit very seriously. Physically engaging, intellectually stimulating, and death-defyingly funny, when this act is released as a special, people will marvel, the way those who witnessed it live did, at just how much it raised the bar, not just for comedy, but for Louis C.K. himself.