Louis C.K. gave audiences several provocative episodes in season 4, but there was one in last year’s batch that he briefly considered turning into a movie.
Speaking at FX’s TCA winter press tour panel for Louie, he dished about the real-life inspiration for the episode “In the Woods,” in which he stole a bunch of scales from a junior high science class, sold them for pot, and wound up deeply disappointing his science teacher/mentor who had defended him. (In his stand-up, C.K. had addressed the fact that this story was ripped right from his 13-year-old life.)
Today he called the incident “terrible” and “the worst he had ever felt,” but also viewed it as a compelling idea to explore on the big screen. But then he says, “I thought, ‘Don’t save this for a movie, because right now I’m playing for the Detroit Tigers. If you’re playing for a team, you don’t go, ‘Well, I’m going to save my best home runs for another team. The best ideas I have, I’m doing them now.'”
C.K. also shared with the room this amusing-yet-semi-heartbreaking anecdote. A few years ago, the teacher who had defended him emailed him out of the blue just to let him how proud of him she was that her students loved him. She also blasted the principal who had (rightfully) accused C.K. of the theft. Filled with guilt, he wrote her an email in which he finally came clean about being the thief and he defended the actions of the principal (who ultimately did not press charges — and whose dialogue in the episode was taken word-for-word from what he told C.K. back then). “And she wrote me back and said, “I’m not going to lie, I’m very disappointed in you,'” said C.K.
He headshakingly summed up of the incident: “I had every advantage when I was a kid. I grew up in Newton, Mass. which is a nice town. I grew up in a working class part of it. And then I just got high. I had a working single mother. I f—ed her life up. I was a terrible kid. So I think I put it all in that show… I don’t think I did anything worse than that.”
Other highlights from the panel:
• C.K. says that season 5 will likely be more “laugh-centric funny than season 4. The feeling that I was having when I wrote this last season—I’m done writing it now—was just a very goofy feeling, a very playful feeling going into this season.” He described the stand-up he did for this season—which sets the mood for building the season—as being “much sillier than it was in the last few years and much more anecdotes and characters, so I think this season is probably going to feel more like that.” When asked if the heavier nature of season 4 indicated a desire to move into drama, C.K. demurred, saying, “It’s not like I’m playing basketball and I want to play baseball. You can do both in the same court… I don’t want to put it in either box.”
• C.K. was asked about two of last season’s talked-about, starting with “Pamela Part I,” in which he came on to Pamela (Pamela Adlon) in an uncomfortable, forcible way. He corrected a reporter who used the term “date rape,” responding, “I guess I wouldn’t call it rape because I kissed the side of her mouth.” C.K. said that the scene was about them trying to figure out where they were as a couple, and that onscreen Pamela was annoyed with him more than anything, not that she was in danger. Sitting next to C.K., Adlon said that when he first told her about the scene, she thought it was funny and while it would generate some debate, she too didn’t feel the scene was “rape-y.” He also acknowledged the variety of reactions to “So Did the Fat Lady,” in which his overweight date tried to have an honest discussion with him about her weight and the difficulties of dating in New York in your late thirties as a “fat girl.” He said the character was not designed to speak for all people, not even the actress who played her, Sarah Baker. “Anytime I write something and it creates that kind of dialogue, it’s exciting, it’s fun,” he noted, adding that while he reads criticisms and analyses of his work, he doesn’t wish to participate in the feedback loop by commenting on their commentary.
• FX also announced earlier today that Adlon will star in her own comedy pilot, Better Things, in which she plays a single mother of three girls. C.K. is co-writing the pilot with Adlon and will direct. She said that she’d be able to appear in a scene or two of the New York-shot Louie but will be focusing on her show, which will be shot in L.A.
• C.K. will have a healthy presence on FX: His next stand-up special will debut on the network, and in addition to working on Adlon’s show, he is producing the Zach Galifianakis comedy Baskets.
Season 5 of Louie will kick of April 9 at 10:30 p.m.