The new season of Mad Men is underway, the Breaking Bad premiere date is set, so as soon as the new season of Louie gets going, our summer viewing needs will be all taken care — oh hell, that’s right, Louie won’t be back until next spring. His new special has already aired, his promo tour for it is over; how the hell do you get your Louis C.K. fix these days? From YouTube, of course. Strangely, not many people are aware that Louie worked his way up to writing, directing, editing, and starring in Louie with two decades of short and indie film work; a quick tour of his early films offers a tantalizing glimpse at the development of his considerable talent.
Ice Cream (1993)
Louie’s first directorial credit on IMDb is for a 1990 short film called Caesar’s Salad, and though he’s uploaded most of his shorts to YouTube, this one is absent — which certainly wouldn’t make him the first filmmaker to bury his early work. At any rate, the earliest readily available C.K. film is this 1992 short, which screened at the Sundance Film Festival and helped get Louie his writing job on Late Night With Conan O’Brien. Funny, moody, and deeply absurd, you can already see his storytelling style at work (the first date dialogue could be from a scene on Louie), while the black-and-white photography is admirably ambitious for a comic short; the cinematographer is Paul Koestner, who has shot consistently for Louie in the years since (up to and including the series and his recent specials). Bonus: look out for Louie’s cameo as a flower vendor.