Louis C.K. Surprised by Letterman Retirement Despite 'Louie' Episodes

"I remember asking, 'Am I allowed to just say that about a living person, that he's retiring?'" C.K. says of last season's story arc

April 30, 2014 2:50 PM ET
Louis C.K.
Louis C.K.
Steve Sands/Getty Images

Louis C.K. questioned whether he should frame a story arc of Louie around the retirement of David Letterman in 2012, as the comedian was afraid he was crossing a line. "I remember asking, 'Am I allowed to just say that about a living person, that he's retiring?'" C.K. said at a Director's Guild event Tuesday night, according to Vulture. But because the late-night mainstay "had a great life on the air," the plot "made sense." Only now, it's become a reality, since Letterman announced he would be saying his final good night sometime in 2015.

6 Iconic David Letterman Interviews

In the mind of Louis C.K., vying for Letterman's throne meant a series of lessons with the typically unusual David Lynch, playing a coach of sorts, and the duplicitousness of one Jerry Seinfeld. Ultimately (spoiler!) it doesn't work out for Louis and gets him banned from The Late Show.

In reality, C.K. told the Director's Guild audience that he would never want Letterman's job, even if it were offered to him. "I'd never be that guy," he said. "I wouldn’t want it and nobody would want me to do that job." He added, "The only reason I would think of doing it would be just to see how badly it would go. My specialty [is going] to a place where people get uncomfortable and then stay there and at some point they're like, 'If I don’t laugh, I'm going to kill myself, so I'm going to laugh.' That’s not a good formula for late-night TV – [that's] on every night, on a major network."

But he's only been of that opinion for a few years. "If you asked me three or four years ago, I would've certainly have taken it," he said. "But now I can say, 'Oh no, that's not for me.'" The reason has less to do with his career onstage and in front of the camera, however, and more to do with his behind-the-scenes job of being a dad. "I take my kids to school every morning and I pick them up when they get out of school. . . I make their dinner and do their homework with them. That would disappear instantly forever."

Last year, C.K. answered to Letterman for a scene in the story arc's finale when he flipped the bird at the Late Show marquee and said, "Fuck you!" As Vulture reported, C.K. looked sheepish and said, "I didn't mean you. It's this guy, Jimmy Letterman." The man who will be taking over Letterman's hosting duties next year is a man Letterman called "a boob like me": Stephen Colbert.

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