As children, one of our greatest universal fears is that everybody secretly hates us and might never hang out with us again. Apparently, this isn't something that goes away.
Last night's Louie ditched the usual opening credits sequence to cold open with Louie at an empty funeral, accompanied only by a very professorial-looking Robin Williams, playing himself. Although it's shot in mournful black-and-white, the somber tone of this opening scene doesn't last very long in an episode that explores what it means to be a social pariah through two separate stories.
In the first, Louie bonds with Williams over a shared primal fear that nobody will attend their funerals. In the second, our hero's scant popularity in Kansas City is mirrored by his babysitting duties for an unruly and decidedly unlovable child. The bottom line is that while nobody wants to die alone, comedians feel this fear more acutely than most – even wildly popular ones.
Here are the five most uncomfortable moments from last night's episode:
1) After the funeral, Robin Williams tracks down Louie at a nearby diner and proceeds to sit down at his table. They stumble through awkward chitchat for a moment, as most people do when they know of each other but have never met. When Williams mentions that the deceased was his ex-wife's brother-in-law, Louie adds, "So you were pretty close to him." There is a single awkward second where Williams can't seem to tell whether this is a ball-bust or not. Once he realizes it is, however, the bond between the pair is sealed, and the shit-talking commences. Soon they're trading impressions of the departed, both of which sound vaguely like The Simpsons' Barney Gumble.
2) The departed, a clingy, cheapskate comedy club owner named Barney, apparently always tried to talk comics into going to his favorite strip club, a place called Sweet Charity. As ashes turn to ashes and dust to dust, Louie and his new friend Robin Williams end up going on the most noble and, yes, sweetly charitable visit to a strip club of all times. After the pair turn down so many offers of lapdances, though, they offer the name of the deceased as their reason for being there. The strippers are crushed upon hearing of Barney's death, and they look at Louie and Robin as though they conspired to kill him. Although the scene eventually heightens into a hilarious scene of full-scale strip-club grieving, scored by Artie Lange's DJ dropping in "Sister Christian," the initial news-flash moment feels icky.
3) People sometimes say TMI (still!) when they feel that a boundary has been breached in conversation. However, these people probably haven't had a woman they barely know confide in them, apropos of nothing, that she is having surgery to get her vagina removed – as Louie endured in last night's episode. If they had, those people might feel inclined to retire the expression, out of respect.
4) The aforementioned soon-to-be sans-genitalia woman is a fellow parent at the school Louie's daughters attend, and she mentions her elective surgery as a prelude to asking Louie to watch her son for a few hours during her consultation. Although this intrusion wrecks a planned Daddy-Daughter Day, Louie is someone who can appreciate the need for coverage during an emergency, even if the emergency turns out to be mind-bogglingly weird.
Speaking of mind-boggling weirdness, though, this woman's progeny turns out to be a holy terror, appropriately named Never. He's shown throwing Louie's Oriental rug out of a window and pushing a baby carriage into oncoming traffic, resulting in the kind of accident that requires Hazmat suits. Never really rattles Louie's cage, however, when he asks his impromptu host and babysitter to administer a bath.
5) Louie hates doing daytime radio, but he agrees to do so after being persuaded by his agent, who is once again hilariously portrayed by a sharply dressed pubescent teen. While on the phone with Tracer, Pig and the Hole (played by Jim Norton, Gregg "Opie" Hughes and Amy Schumer, all affiliated with the hugely popular Opie and Anthony show), Louie is able to go along with their inane blathering for a while. When he hears an opportunity to vent his disdain for Kansas City, where the radio station is located, he can't resist taking it, which ends predictably bad. When Louie is lecturing the boy Never in the next scene about inappropriate behavior, he seemingly fails to connect the dots to his own need to follow a self-destructive muse. Ultimately, though, it's this instinct that's probably directly responsible for his fear of dying alone.
Last episode: File Under 'Worst First Dates'