Louis C.K.’s Radical Television Experiment

Emily Nussbaum goes behind the scenes of Louis C.K.’s very funny sitcom with a revealing profile of the man who is probably at the height of the stand-up game.

Against a wall there are two guitars. A clarinet lies on the mantelpiece, near Louis’s Emmy for The Chris Rock Show. In the foyer, there’s a metal cabinet filled with pricey cameras—his one vice, he tells me. “To me, art supplies are always okay to buy.” There’s also a desk with three huge monitors on which he edits the series. He pulls up an iTunes playlist and clicks on a theme he describes as “Monkish, Thelonious-y.” We listen together for a minute, the music rising, getting at once sadder and more exciting. “Isn’t that great? And now I’ve got to write a scene that fits it.”

Then he selects a scene with Pamela Adlon. It’s a classic New York real-estate nightmare, with the two haggling with a manic Russian Realtor. Adlon appears in only three episodes this year because she’s tied to Californication. “I’m way behind. It’s terrible,” he says, brooding again about deadlines, about being “stuck in the mud,” as he did last season. He has a cache of “serious e-mails” from Breard, saying, “You’re in a lot of trouble; you need to stop making us wait or we can’t make a show anymore.’?” (In a phone conversation, Adlon says she’s confident Louis will pull it off, describing him as having “his own kind of discipline. Like a college kid cramming for a final.”)

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