The last season of “Louie” included a brilliant three-episode arc entitled “Late Night” that found the titular hero, played by the show’s creator, writer and producer Louis C.K., being brought in to potentially take over for David Letterman as the host of “Late Show.” Letterman, he’s told, is retiring, and Louie is the cheap option being groomed as an alternative to the more likely big-name pick of Jerry Seinfeld.
The process of auditioning challenged Louie, wrung him out, taught him lessons about himself and competition and what he wants from his career. (It also involved very funny appearances from Garry Marshall and David Lynch as two of the execs prepping Louie for the role, as well as Jay Leno, Chris Rock and Seinfeld as themselves.) But in the end, Letterman didn’t retire, and Louie found out he was just being used to bargain the host down on his contract renewal. He nevertheless gets a moment of triumph from the fact that he actually shook Letterman’s place in the world up for a moment — the kind of bittersweetly wonderful conclusion “Louie” can do better than any other show in TV right now.
Appearing on “Late Show with David Letterman” last night to promote his new HBO special “Louis C.K.: Oh My God,” C.K. was asked by the host about the scene in which his character stands outside the Ed Sullivan Theater and yells “Yo, Letterman! Letterman! Fuck you!” “I didn’t mean you,” C.K. says. “This guy — Jimmy Letterman.” He also explains how he got his famous no-network-notes deal at FX — by, essentially, not wanting to do a show.