Ladies and gentlemen of America, for the duration of this Morning After post, I would like you to imagine . . . to imagine that this review of Louis CK’s show at the Pantages last night . . . to imagine that this review is being read to you by the next President of the United States . . . the junior senator from Illinois . . . Barack . . . OBAMA!
Thank you. Thank you. Ladies and gentlemen, these are certainly uncertain times.
Uncertain times when an MSNBC guest host can be censured by a senator and a presidential candidate because that reporter used language more appropriate to a sit-com or an Entertainment Weekly article than a discussion on the marketability of the former first lady’s daughter . . . uncertain times, when the suspension of that same MSNBC guest host, a guest host who dared to use the phrase “pimped out” in a two-minute segment on the Clinton’s new marketing strategy, when that suspension is deemed to be insufficient by our former first lady, when that first lady chides the fifth estate with a letter that reads, “Nothing justifies the kind of debasing language that David Shuster used and no temporary suspension or half-hearted apology is sufficient.”
[pause for a knit brow denoting quiet inner contemplation]
Yes, these are uncertain times. Now, I’m not with you today to excuse Mr. Shuster. I’m not here to excuse the scourge of prostitution, or the uncertain role of the now very adult Chelsea Clinton, or even the use of negative language on behalf of anyone in the marketing departments of either campaign! In fact, I am not here to excuse negativity on behalf of anyone . . . ever!
As you all know, I’m all about positive vibes, and, of course . . . CHANGE!
No, ladies and gentlemen, I’m not here today to excuse David Shuster for accidentally calling Chelsea Clinton a whore. No, I’m here to tell you this: that last night, at the Pantages theater, the greatest stand-up comic working today came to Minneapolis. Louis CK, a man who has written both jokes and several very mediocre movies for Chris Rock! Chris Rock, of course, the greatest black stand-up comic working today!
You see, in these uncertain times, Mr. CK stands for something very important . . . something possibly much more important . . . than the audacity of hope.
Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. CK stands for making the inappropriate joke at the appropriate time. He stands for turning America’s bullshit meter up to 11! He stands for saying what you mean, and meaning what you say!
Even if that language would be upsetting on a show like Countdown or even Hardball. But Louis CK is not controlled by the culture of fear or the purveyors of false positivity! Last night, at the Pantages Theater, Louis CK, echoing great American comics of the past, comics like George Carlin and Lenny Bruce . . . last night, Louis CK bravely talked about the three most offensive words in the modern American language. But before I go any further, I'd like to give those who are easily offended by words an opportunity to plug their ears. For the three most hated, disgusting words are: faggot, cunt and . . . nigger.
[crowd looks around nervously.]
Ladies and gentlemen, I know, I know, if you use those words, even in a comedy club, losing your job and being publicly humiliated are not enough for the hounds of the PC witch hunt . . . no, you’re supposed to be deported to the island of Elba after your utility to the sanctimonious pundits on both the left and the right has expired. As the junior senator from New York said yesterday in her letter to the corporate bosses at MSNBC: “Nothing justifies that kind of debasing language . . . and no temporary suspension or half-hearted apology is sufficient.” I am here today, ladies and gentlemen, to argue that nothing justifies that kind of debasing language . . . except laughter. Deep, penetrating laughter . . . laughter that lets the message swoop in under the radar of our performance-enhanced outrage reflex. Laughter that swoops in under the vigilance of America’s suppressive superego and settles on top of the vast American heart. Last night, Mr. CK redirected our superego, redirected that petty outrage reflex that’s been built up by the mongers of special interests. Last night, he bravely told the crowd, “I am most offended when I hear the ‘n-word.’ No, not “nigger”—when I actually hear ‘the n-word.’”
[scattered laughter, but mostly crickets.]
Now, on the advice of my polling team, I’ve done my best to avoid talking about race during this campaign, but last night, Louis CK pointed out that people who use the n-word are just white people who want to use the word nigger. And you know what, ladies and gentlemen? Louis CK is right!
[crowd begins to panic.]
Last night, when Louis CK said, “When people like Nancy Grace use ‘n-word’ they’re making me say the real thing in my head. Why don’t you say it? Don’t make me say it!” Oh, and I also laughed—very, very deeply—when Louis CK pointed out how easy white people have it, at any time in history, even in the year two, when Louis said he would have no problem visiting if he had a time machine, even though he really didn’t know what was going on, but he could probably show up and the maitre d’ would say, “Yes, sir, we have a table waiting for you.”
[crowd laughs against its will. The older, Hillary–demo crosses their arms.]
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I laughed because it was a very funny way to shatter a taboo subject. And I laughed because, at least in public discourse, the list of taboos gets ever longer, while everyday the hysteria over who offended which group by making allusions to which taboo gets louder. Our news outlets don’t devote a quarter of the time to the daily casualties in Iraq as they do to the questionable comments of Don Imus, Bill Clinton, and now this hapless MSNBC guest host. Ladies and gentlemen, Louis CK is angry at the way things are, but not going from town to town, and talking about a warm and fuzzy place. He’s going to town to town acting as our bullshit mechanism. He’s stumping against careless language and hard-to-pin-down lies. His jokes circumvent the misleading politicians and subvert the endless marketing spin. Not by preaching like David Cross or Janeane Garafalo or Al Franken . . . no, by making us laugh.
And I hope he doesn’t change.