TV Club

Louie recap: Did Louis C.K.’s showdown with Marc Maron live up to its potential?

Let’s give the rug rant its due.

Louie still.

Marc Maron as Marc.

Photo by K.C. Bailey/FX.

I’m not Jonah, obviously, but I’ll take a swing at your question, Allison: Each segment was about the strange things people need from each other, and the messy consequences that ensue. “Residual feelings,” you might say, quoting the aptly named Delores, played excellently by Maria Dizzia. There was also a lot in the first and third segments about reciprocity. “I’m not asking for your help,” Delores tells Louie. “I’m just saying if you offer it I’ll suck your dick.” It’s an awkward moment.

And the subsequent trip to IKEA is better than you’re giving it credit for—you didn’t even get into the rant about the rug! Which was a thing of foul-mouthed beauty. Delores gets upset that Louie isn’t paying attention to her rug-shopping, and then gets upset again when his opinion about the rug is insufficiently passionate. He replies:

It’s a rug! It’s fine. That’s the level of passion that a rug warrants. It’s a rug. It doesn’t solve all my problems. But it doesn’t make me angry. It’s a rug! It doesn’t smell bad, it’s flat, it’s blue, it goes on the floor. It’s not coated with AIDS, and it’s not a portal to a netherplace. It doesn’t make me cum, but it’s fine.

Sure, IKEA as relationship-killer is rather shop-worn, but that speech is not. It’s wonderful. And the car ride home was good, too. “I owe you a blowjob,” Delores says, calling to mind another scene that took place in a large vehicle—in that case a truck. Delores is ready to be a “good girl,” as Melissa Leo put it, but Louie acts more wisely here. “You know what,” he says, “don’t worry about it.” Delores doesn’t drop it, though, leading to this classic exchange:

Delores: So notify me when you want me to suck it.
Maybe I should have gotten two of those chairs.
You mean the rattan chairs? No, no. The painted ones are good.

Similarly, the second segment may have had a familiar premise—man gets crabs, awkward comedy ensues—but its centerpiece was decidedly original, and barely involved Louie at all. It was between that older woman and the elderly pharmacist, and had some of the strange push-pull that Delores exhibits when she cries angrily at Louie and then draws him closer to her. The woman in the pharmacy insists on a consultation, even though it’s pretty clear she doesn’t need one. The questions she then has to answer are embarrassing ones, about the frequency of her urination and the relative hardness of her stool. These questions are asked in a harsh, suggestive way by the pharmacist, played by Gene Jones—who is really good at scenes behind counters: You might remember his exchange with Javier Bardem about a coin toss in No Country for Old Men. The older woman feigns—or perhaps even experiences—some embarrassment, but the idea, I think, is that this is what she wanted.

Which brings us to the third segment. Like you, Allison, I loved the Silverman scene. Kudos to C.K. for showing some of his early, not-that-great stand-up. He picked better bits, I thought, for Silverman and Maron. (By the way, I think these routines were from the early ’90s, not the ’80s, as “the Comedy Channel” claimed—and I think those were three different brick walls behind the three comics, though I’m not positive.)

Also like you, Allison—and many others, presumably—I was super-excited for the Maron/C.K. showdown. I’ve already mentioned how much I love the conversation they had on WTF, which is one of the more memorable explorations of friendship I’ve seen (or heard) anywhere. I often compare it to the Noah Baumbach movie Greenberg, which is also partly about the frayed friendship of two artistically inclined, middle-aged guys who got very close in their early 20s. With that in the background, how could the short scene live up to our expectations?

I’m not sure. There were some nice touches. I especially admired Maron’s attire—dark boxers and dark socks framing some fairly pale legs—and the way that big, old-fashioned chair he sat in, with Louie on a couch or an Ottoman or something, suggested a therapist-patient relationship without being too heavy-handed about it. And yeah, the punch line was great: Louie, distraught because he hasn’t spoken to Maron in 10 years, learns that actually he did the exact same thing five years ago: came to Maron’s apartment and apologized because he finally realized it was his fault. “You cried that time,” Maron says, in a seeming reference to C.K.’s famously podcasted tears. “You didn’t cry this time, so that’s something.” “I’m sorry,” Louie says, again. (As a clever supercut recently made abundantly clear, Louie never stops apologizing—a behavior he’s also teaching his kids.) As a WTF fan, I was happy that Maron got in one “We good?” before Louie left.

On Twitter, Emily Nussbaum floated the theory that, in this segment, C.K. is in some sense playing Maron, and Maron is playing C.K. I’m not sure I buy that notion entirely, but there is something to it. What do you think, Jonah?

It felt good being sad for somebody,