Comedian Louis C.K. recently pulled a Rihanna and Kanye West with his new show “Horace And Pete”: It arrived finished, out of nowhere, and as a total surprise to all his fans. But he didn’t make the show through a network, paid for it out of his own pocket, and then just quietly slapped it on his website without much promotion (it was really just up to fans and journalists to notice, and of course they did).
A recent guest on “The Howard Stern Show,” the comedian didn’t fully explain why, but in the process of describing the evolution of “Horace And Pete,” C.K. explains how he essentially blew up his own creative life as a means to create something new. In the process, he canceled his next movie and decided to drop his Emmy-winning FX show “Louie.” At least for now.
“What happened was, I told FX I didn’t wanna come back for a sixth season of ‘Louie’ after I did season five,” C.K. revealed to Stern. “And I said, ‘I don’t want to put it off, I just want to say I’m not doing it anymore for now. I might come back and do it again some day, but I don’t wanna owe it to you ever.’ I just want a clean slate in my head.”
Throughout the interview, C.K. implied that forcing himself into fear and risk was his only choice to keep his creative soul happy; and it’s what inspired “Horace And Pete.” “I walked away from ‘Louie‘ and I had a month where I didn’t know what I was gonna do next — that’s where a lot of good ideas come from — just total open, nothing, unemployment.”
You’ll recall last year the comedian/director/writer/producer said he would be directing a full-length feature that he penned called “I’m A Cop.” However, C.K. has changed his mind and said that project is no longer moving forward.
“I had a movie set up that I wrote, that I was going to direct and star in. That was supposed to happen this last summer.” Why didn’t it happen, Stern asked? “I had a movie ready to shoot and I had my TV show going so I said no to both. I said, ‘We’re not doing either.’ And I just threw everything away. It was a very scary and terrifying thing to do.”
Perhaps worse, C.K. said he spent a half a million per episode of “Horace And Pete” and eventually spent $2 million of his own money to make those first four episodes. Unfortunately, they didn’t earn enough on his website to bankroll the rest of the season, so the comedian had to take out a line of credit and put himself millions of more dollars in debt.
“I got so excited by the idea of having a show appear from nothing,” C.K. said. “As a TV watcher, I’m always delighted when I can see a thing without knowing anything about it because of the promotion. So making this show and just posting it out of the blue gave me the rare opportunity to give you that experience of discovery.”
C.K. doesn’t seem to be sweating it too much and insists with a few stand-up tours he should be back in the black. The interview also covers the fact that seminal musician Paul Simon wrote the theme song to “Horace And Pete” — simply because C.K. had the balls to ask him cold — and that Joe Pesci turned down an offer to star on the show. That segment, in and of itself, is a riot to listen to, with Pesci giving C.K. unsolicited advice (“don’t eat pussy”), telling him he wasn’t a very good comedian, generally delivering very candid and unfiltered thoughts about the comedian’s career (“I watched your stand-up, which I can tell you’re just trying, and you’re no good at it…quit that now”). But the “Goodfellas” actor still eventually invited C.K. over to his house so the writer/director/actor could spend the day pitching the project to him (Pesci still said no). It’s all a really fascinating conversation, and you can listen to the highlights of the Stern conversation below.