Louis C.K. on compelling, inspiring and fun

AVC: Has performing stand-up gotten easier for you over the years?

LCK: Well, no, because I haven’t let it become easier, I try to keep it challenging. It’s easier if you cull from all your greatest hits and just do them. That’s easy, but it’s also probably suicide. [Laughs.] It’s harder now than it was earlier, but it’s way more compelling and inspiring and fun. It’s worth the traveling and everything now. I got really burnt out on travel, but not anymore. Because I don’t really care—unless I’m on some stupid train to Buffalo or somewhere, I’m not thinking of comfort. I’m poring over notes, listening to some old tapes, and being sure I make use of that show, because I start every year with a target date for that special, and it’s always a little too soon, so I’m always in the theater. So it’s harder, and I’m always trying to cull together material that I don’t really know well. If it works out, at the end of the year, I’ve got a completely honed, perfect sweet set. I know right where the sweet chunks are. I know right where the heavy artillery is, and I’ve got a reliably great hour. And I do it in front of a polished, perfect crowd and get it on tape. And that’s easy and fun and great, but it takes a year to get there. And when the special is done, I’m back to nothing, literally no material, not even a single joke I can tell onstage. So that keeps the cycle.

Louis C.K.