Louis C.K. – Sorry Review

The self-pity tour continues for Louis C.K. with latest special, Sorry. If you have to keep saying it, maybe you aren’t. Like a Rolling Stone from Bob Dylan crashes through the speakers, the line “like a complete unknown” unifying with C.K. strolling onto the stage and raising his arms. Welcome back, the sell-out crowd offers this cancelled comedian. At least an hour-long set is a norm now. Back in the days of mega stadium tours and two-hour shows from the humourless Lee Evans or the passable qualities of Peter Kay it was agony. Comedy on the stage is far from the pedestal Stewart Lee foolishly placed it on, and people like Louis C.K. are the reason why it has fallen so far. Not the quality of character, but the content they class as comedy across the pond.  

Sick and gross humour, the special is actually rather good. Artists out of favour with the cultural shift can still provide good work. The public image may be diminished, but the talent is not. Very American, very “edgy” if that word even holds any weight anymore, and a cycle through the hot topics C.K. has struggled to adapt on the stage for over a decade. In typical fashion, C.K. touches on that line between artistic gift and actual responsibility with a few knocks at Michael Jackson. He appears confident in his private rehabilitation, and crowds will lap it up. This is likely one of his most consistent sets, not because of his time in hiding, but because his material feels a tad more naturally paced than earlier pieces. 

But a good bit on Good Will Hunting sees some stronger material for C.K., whose track record of fart jokes and irreverent non-topics is a frequent bystander here. As ironic it may be for C.K. to have good material on social etiquette, he does. Sorry is filled with some new material that will at least cut through the thick fog of COVID-19. But those trite allusions to the event that threw C.K. from the spotlight are never followed up with anything either boastful or sincere. Sorry is sorry for not featuring an apology, much like Sincerely was sincerely sorry for not being sincere. At the end of it all, C.K. is a draw for many and a solid comedian at best. It is hard to be anything but the middle of the road on this, for the qualities it has as a stand-up piece are the same shovelware Netflix has offered for years. There is no improvement on that, but no fumbling of cameras, no material so vain or turgid to throw disgust at the artist on stage.  

There is a temperament for humour found within Sorry, but the bulk of the material feels recycled. That may be why it feels more natural, because C.K. has been playing around with this work for years now. Elephants dying, Michael Jackson’s alleged paedophilia and a few inevitable knocks at C.K.’s public disappearance in the wake of unearthed allegations during the #MeToo movement. As C.K. leans into the “all I do is sit around and watch YouTube shtick,” it is hard to feel sorry for him despite that being the intention of such a line. Don’t let those prods overshadow the somewhat solid hour-long special within, where acceptable quality and a good few lines make for an entertaining enough feature.  

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