Why I Won't Be Going to See Louis C.K.

Michael Handelzalts
Michael Handelzalts
Send in e-mailSend in e-mail
Send in e-mailSend in e-mail
Louis C.K. performing at a charity concert, February 2015.
Louis C.K. performing at a charity concert, February 2015.Credit: AP
Michael Handelzalts
Michael Handelzalts

I don’t get carried away easily – unless there’s a tsunami – but I really admire Louis C.K. (What? Me? A fan?) And this is precisely why I won’t be seated at the Jerusalem Payis Arena next Thursday (neither at the first show nor the second show), at the historic moment when he prophesizes in and about the Holy Land – the only opportunity in the foreseeable future when he and I might share the same space.

No, not because of the ticket price of 280 shekels to 730 shekels ($73-$192), which are above the $50 ceiling Louis – who likes to be accessible – set for his promoters in the United States and abroad. And not because of their unavailability (the rapid sale of tickets for the first show led to a second being added).

The reason for my demonstrative absence has everything to do with how I see Louis C.K.’s uniqueness, and the character of the space in which he will be appearing next week – and from which I will be absent with no regrets.

In recent years, Louis C.K. has been one of those people who restore to we of little faith just a smidgen of that faith, in the possibility of a certain type of human. In the guise of a stand-up comedian, Louis has created and established himself as an experiential philosopher who muses aloud about the arbitrariness of human existence, challenging – with a kind of stubbornness bordering on insensitivity – all the rules of political correctness and insisting on using his common sense, without fear of patronizing or offending anyone.

And this isn’t just in his stand-up performances (you can purchase some of them on his website, among them one at Madison Square Garden, New York – their version of the Payis Arena). It’s also there in the television series in which he plays a character called Louis – pretty much himself. And it’s certainly there in the 10-part web series he has sold directly to viewers via the internet, “Horace and Pete.”

In the third episode of this comedy series, a female character says to the character played by Louis (who wrote and directed it): “You are skilled in justifying horrible behavior.” To my mind, this is indeed one of the characteristics of his genius.

As you might have gathered, my relationship with Louis is quite intimate. Not only because of the email correspondence – which is conducted in the second person – between his website and me concerning “Horace and Pete,” but also because I usually experience him via my tablet. And even when he’s on television, it’s usually up close and personal. Yes, I know this is a unilateral intimacy – but that’s good enough for me.

The Jerusalem Payis Arena, however, is a multipurpose hall with 11,600 seats, where Hapoel Jerusalem plays its basketball games. There, all I would be able to see of the historical-hysterical stand-up performance, from any spot, would be a tiny human dot on a distant stage, and close-ups of his face on screens either side of said stage.

This will be great when Amar’e Stoudemire scores a three pointer, but it’s not very intimate.

If you’ve been reading attentively so far, and didn’t give up after the first paragraph, you might rather contemptuously remark that I previously purchased Louis’ performance at Madison Square Garden, and ask why I think that what worked for all his fans there won’t work for me in Jerusalem.

Louis C.K. attends the premiere of "The Secret Life of Pets" in New York, June 2016. Credit: Charles Sykes/AP

So here’s the thing: At that filmed performance in New York, they give me the feeling of a live show in front of a huge crowd, but also the intimate connection with the person who is standing there, turning the crowd’s principles on their head and making the hair on their heads (and his own) stand on end.

The filmed performance lets me be up close and personal with my intimate Louis C.K., and to feel like I’m there without the maddening crowd surrounding me and ruining the intimacy. At the Jerusalem Payis Arena, I would have the noisy crowd surrounding me, and feeling like I’m not up close and personal with Louis C.K.

And what will happen on stage in Jerusalem? Will Louis C.K. say something about the Middle East, Jews, Israelis, Palestinians? He does, after all, specialize in justifying truly awful behavior, and has already related to our conflict from his viewpoint as an irresponsible adult as a spat between his two teenage daughters.

When this happens – not if it happens, because I’m sure it will – I’m convinced that I’ll hear about it in real time on social media and via the broadcast networks that wait with bated breath to pounce on any word that shows the whole world is against us. And I’ll be sitting there in the dark, comfy and cozy in my love for Louis C.K. – a love that is never unrequited and somehow justifies all my terrible behavior.

Click the alert icon to follow topics: