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Louis C.K.: Hilarious -- Film Review

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PARK CITY -- Practically nothing is off-limits for stand-up comic Louis C.K., from toilet training his kids to Hitler and the Holocaust. The material in this roadshow doc is too raunchy for broadcast outlets, with pay cable a more suitable release platform, while a wider audience awaits on DVD.

Paunchy, middle-aged, white single dad Louis C.K. (aka Louis Szekely) doesn't appear at first to have a whole lot going for him as far as material or delivery, but in actuality he's also a well-known actor, Emmy-nominated TV writer, screenwriter and director. His secret weapon is his willingness to go where other comedians fear to give offense -- he simply doesn't care how provocative he is.

In this 2009 show shot at the Pabst Theater in Milwaukee, he riffs on the advantages and pitfalls of divorce, the problems with becoming recently single, auto-eroticism (although his reference is much cruder), the advantages of being gay (even though he's not), and overweight Americans, among other topics both blue and taboo.

At first he seems a rather vulnerable figure onstage alone, dressed in a black T-shirt and blue jeans. "I don't know how to start shows," he says at the opening of the film, but C.K. then effortlessly flows from one topic to another, his casual delivery and average-guy demeanor capably amplifying the routine's impact, along with frequent physical humor.

Rude, crude and the antithesis of politically correct, much of the often cutting and cynical comedy is at his own expense, but whenever he gets too brazen C.K. cracks a smile or laughs off the audience's discomfort in a way that's disarmingly amusing. "I don't know why I'm such an asshole," C.K. jokes at one point -- obviously because it's funny.

With the first stand-up comedy production to screen at Sundance, the filmmakers had a high bar to clear, but the laughs were consistent and often raucous at the world premiere screening. No doubt a treat for the many fans in the theater, "Louis C.K.: Hilarious" may prove more of an acquired taste for newcomers.

Venue: Sundance Film Festival
Production: Art & Industry
Writer-director: Louis C.K.
Screenwriter: Louis C.K.
Producers: Michelle Caputo, Shannon Hartman
Executive producers: Louis C.K., Dave Becky
Director of photography: Paul Koestner
No rating, 83 minutes