My Comedy Hero: Derren Brown on Louis CK
Mentalist Brown singles out the American stand-up for his ability to 'make us look at life anew'
Hopefully not being a comedian gives me licence to name someone who is well established. I can’t offer the names of any cool, underground subversives. He may still not be quite a household name in the UK but he’s undoubtedly at the top of the tree: my comedy hero is Louis CK.
The best comedians, of course, make us look at life anew. They teach us something worthwhile, but tend to offer themselves as a foil to avoid the sin of preachiness. Likewise, the quality of the message justifies the most indelicate jokes. The figure of the vulnerable sage is a potent one, and when this balance between high and low status is masterfully effected by an unassuming artist like Louis CK, it can leave us improved and stunned.
Carlin did it in spades, so did Hicks and Lenny Bruce. Carlin I saw in Vegas, and I found myself smiling rather than really laughing, but his penetrating power was indubitable. Louis CK, meanwhile, leaves me weeping every time. I have never met him, and am not sure I would want to: it’s easier to bask in someone’s work when you haven’t been inevitably disappointed by them in the flesh. It’s nice to have heroes, but stars only twinkle when viewed from afar.
King’s Theatre, Glasgow, Mon 14–Sat 19 Jul.