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Louis C.K. - Biography

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Comedian Louis CK Photo by Mark Mainz/Getty Images

Born:

  • September 12, 1967

Quick Louis C.K. Facts:

  • Louis C.K. was born in Washington, D.C., but raised in Massachusetts.
  • He first performed stand-up in 1984.
  • He worked as a writer on The Late Show with David Letterman, Late Night with Conan O'Brien, The Dana Carvey Show and The Chris Rock Show.
  • C.K. has directed two feature films and co-written two more.
  • In 2006, he created and starred on the HBO sitcom Lucky Louie, which lasted only one season.
  • He has released two stand-up album and four hour-long stand-up specials.
  • His 2011 album, Hilarious, won the Grammy Award for Best Comedy Album.

Louis C.K. Overview:

A 20+ year veteran of the stand-up comedy scene, Louis C.K. is also an accomplished filmmaker and award-winning writer. Influenced by comics like George Carlin and Richard Pryor, C.K. is a master of black humor and a perpetual victim of his own life. He is primarily an observational comic, but directs most of his observations towards his own life -- often mining his marriage and his children as sources for his comedy.

In the Beginning:

Louis Szekely was born in September of 1967 in Washington, D.C. Growing up in Massachusetts, he began using the abbreviated "C.K." in grade school because he felt his name was too difficult to pronounce.

In 1984, C.K. tried stand-up for the first time at a comedy club open mic in Boston. It went badly, and C.K. stayed away from comedy for the next two years. He returned in '86, and quickly became a staple of the then-hot Boston comedy scene.

New York and Filmmaking:

In 1989, C.K. moved to New York to perform stand-up. He appeared as a comic on several TV series, including Comic Strip Live and MTV Half Hour Comedy Hour and Evening at the Improv.

In 1990, he made his first short film, called "Caesar's Salad." He took it around the festival circuit and had some success, and has been making short films ever since. He would go on to make eight more short films over the course of his career before getting into features.

TV Writing:

In 1993, C.K. began his successful career as a TV writer. He joined the original staff of the then-new Late Night With Conan O'Brien, where he worked for two years and created still-famous bits like "Staring Contest."

In 1995, he performed on Late Night with David Letterman and was such a hit that he joined the writing staff. He only worked there for a few months before he was made head writer and producer of the short-lived ABC sketch show The Dana Carvey Show, alongside comics like Steve Carell, Stephen Colbert and screenwriter Charlie Kaufman.

In 1996, C.K. starred in his first HBO Comedy Half Hour special. The same year, he became a writer and producer on comedian Chris Rock's talk show The Chris Rock Show, forging a long working relationship between the two. He received four Emmy nominations and one Emmy win for his work on the show.

In 1997, C.K. wrote and directed his first feature film, an independent work called Tomorrow Night, co-starring fellow comedians like Nick Di Paolo, Wanda Sykes, Amy Poehler, Todd Barry and Steve Carell.

More Feature Film Work:

In 2000, C.K. made his second feature, Pootie Tang, co-written by Rock. The movie was a critical bomb, but has gone on to become something of a cult favorite. C.K. hasn't directed another feature since.

He did re-team with Rock on two more film projects, co-writing the Rock vehicles Down to Earth (2001) and I Think I Love My Wife (2007), the latter of which Rock also directed.

Stand-up Success for Louis C.K.:

Throughout all of his TV work, C.K. continued to write and perform stand-up comedy. In 2001, he released his first stand-up album, Louis C.K. Live in Houston.

In 2006, he created and starred in Lucky Louie, a traditional (but R-rated) sitcom for HBO. It garnered good reviews, but was canceled after just one season.

In 2006, he taped his first HBO comedy special, Shameless. His second special, Chewed Up, aired on Showtime in 2008.

In 2009, C.K. starred in the films Diminished Capacity and The Invention of Lying, written and directed by Ricky Gervais.

Additional Louis C.K. Facts:

  • In 2010, C.K.'s stand-up concert film Hilarious became the first comedy concert film ever to play at the Sundance film festival. It received a brief (one night) theatrical run before debuting on Comedy Central in January 2011, days before its release on CD and DVD.
  • In 2012, Hilarious won the Grammy for Best Comedy Album.
  • He won two Emmys in 2012; one for writing on his sitcom, Louie, and one for writing his self-distributed stand-up special Live at the Beacon Theater/
  • While writing for Late Night with Conan O'Brien, C.K. became the first stand-up comedian ever to perform on the show in 1993. It was also C.K. network debut as a comic.
  • He was ranked #98 on Comedy Central's list of the "100 Greatest Stand-ups of All Time."
  • He is a frequent collaborator on Robert Smigel's "TV Funhouse" shorts on Saturday Night Live.
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