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Louis CK And Doug Stanhope Discuss Being A Healthy Comedian On A 2005 Message Board

March 30, 2014

I did a little deep Google diving this morning and uncovered some interesting Louis CK-related stuff that was posted online about a decade ago and you’ve probably never seen before. Here’s some of the highlights…

Louis CK & Doug Stanhope Discuss The Merits Of Being A “Healthy” Comedian In 2005

One of the best things I found was this Alt Standup Comedy Google Group which featured conversations amongst a variety of comedians including such notable names as Louis CK and Doug Stanhope. One particular discussion thread that caught my eye was actually started by CK with the subject, “Are you a healthy comedian?” Here was his opening post:

“I know a lot of you out there have a diet that consists of Hardees and Taco Bell with the occasional frozen buffalo wings heated up in the condo microwave, and that your exercize regimen… doesn’t exist. Personally, one of the reasons I chose standup as a life is because it allowed me to lie on a floor for several hours eating lard and crying, only having to pull myself together for an hour a day or so. But if you want to have any longevity as a comedian, or if you want
 your brain and body to provide you with any consistent creative flow, 
you have to eat somewhat right and do some excercize of some kind.

I started running years ago and though I often fuck up and stop for a
long time, it keeps me alive.  Especially when I’m on the road, I like 
to run every day and explore the towns I’m working in. I try to eat
 shitloads of fruit too. Recently I started jumping rope which feels gay 
and wonderful at the same time.

Does anyone else work out/excercize/take care of themselves?  Or are
you all hoping to die a quick, american junkfood non-movement death?

just curious.

LCK”

This led Stanhope to reply:

“I try to do coke a couple times a month to get my heart rate up though Viagra can really get the ticker running at high speed especially if you are trying to come while you’re extraordinarily drunk. Cialis to a lesser extent but for a longer duration.

Often times on the road I will take very long walks when I wake up and
 don’t know where I am and need to get back to my hotel. Terror can at times be a great replacement for a sauna to help you 
sweat out the toxins. Sushi is very healthy I’ve heard and will help clean out your system 
the longer you leave it sitting around before consumption. Dry heaves
 help keep the abs tight. Carrying a lot of merchandise to a gig is a good workout and doing 
terribly on stage will insure you have to carry them all back home as
well. I also sometimes play darts in between shows.”

Later on in the discussion thread, CK expanded on his thoughts.

“For me, it’s not really about weight loss. Training just makes me sharper and mostly increases my endurance. let me put it to you all this way: Trying to be a standup comedian for 
a living, or beyond that, trying to pursue a life in comedy that has
 longevity and bredth, is crazily hard.

Lots of folks say it takes 15, maybe 20 years to make a great comic.
 Lots of people start out with a lot of talent but by the time they hit
 that many years they’ve given up, become bitter and crusty or have died 
from ill health and depression. Outside of all that, it seems to me that if  you’re trying to do
 something extraordinary, which succeeding as a comedian is, if only by 
virtue of the fact that almost no one pulls it off, then you should get 
yourself into the best possible shape.  

I don’t mean looks, I don’t
 mean weight.  I maintain a pretty good belly.   I just mean getting
 yourself ready, steeling yourself, improving your abilities and 
strengths as a person. Given the odds of making it as a comedian, I am amazed at how little 
effort so many comedians make, while complaining bitterly about their 
lack of breaks.  I mean, you should be thinking like an olympic athlete 
but you think like dorito-eating high school brats, doing nothing and
 expecting everything.  

Of course I’m not talking about YOU, whoever is
 reading this.  I’m talking about YOU, over there.  Yeah.

Every time I run, I reach about fifty points in my run where I want to
 quit.  I reach about 100 points where I am SURE I’m going to quit.  But
 I keep going and when I finish, I’ve just proven to myself that I can
 survive self doubt and exhaustion.  This is an invaluable tool for me 
as a comedian, writer and producer.  Everything I do is  helped by 
exercize.  Even if I can’t spell it right.

One other thing, I NEVER listen to music when I run.  This is my 
reason:  When I get to those points, going up a horrible hill, running straight into a cold wind, I have to reach somewhere inside myself to 
get through it.  If I have an ipod suplying me with “Eye of the Tiger”
or some wonderful Cher song, then that gets me through.  That’s no good 
to me because next time I’m on a stage getting tired, or next time I’m
 shooting number 9 of 20 shows or next time I just want to fucking eat a
 bag of poison because I get sick of my life, I’d rather have whatever 
tool I built inside myself on that hill, then have to listen to cher 
every time.
Does that make any sense?

Now, I’m sure a lot of you young folks are thinking, “Fuck you, CK ,
Doug Stanhope does drugs and he is cool.”  Well, you’re right.  you
 should do drugs.  But this works for me.

thanks

LCK”

And finally, Stanhope’s response:

“Louis,

I concur that poor health leads to sloth and effects your creativity.
Repeating any behavior continually will effect your writing as it gives 
you nothing new to say. I do drugs, yes I do but I only do them socially. Its the fact that I
 talk openly about it that gives the impression that there is a
 frequency. I’ve probably done mushrooms 6 times this year, acid once
 (poor quality), coke maybe 5 or 6 times, and about three xanax a week
to sleep. I dont smoke pot.

So smokes and drink are about my only habits and the cigarettes 
certainly need to go.

I started drinking and smoking the night before Thanksgiving in 1980.
 So this year on my 25th anniversary I plan on doing a 30 full rehab of
 nicotine, alocohol, caffiene as well as good food and exercise. Just 
for the fun of not having fun. I hope to keep the smokes out completely 
afterward.

I’m tired of always being tired.

Thanks for your words.

stanhope”

Again, these are just some fun excerpts from the thread – you can check out more of it here.

Louis CK Explains Why He Stopped Doing College Shows In A 2004 Interview

In a lengthy (and really interesting) interview with a website dedicated to the Vancouver comedy scene called The Comedy Couch, CK explains why he stopped doing college shows.

“Years ago I did a show at UNH in New Hampshire. I don’t do college shows anymore, and this is why. I’m doing a show and I did an old joke of mine where I said, “I read that 80 percent of the people in New York are minorities. Which is funny, because shouldn’t
you not call them minorities when they get to 80 percent? Like you could take a white guy to Africa and he’d be going, ‘Look at all the minorities. I’m the only majority.’” Whatever. So that was the joke.

And I was at UNH, the University of New Hampshire, and when I got to the part where I said 80 percent of the people in New York are minorities, people booed me. Hissed. And I said, “What’s the problem?” And someone just said, “You’re a racist.” And I said, “Why am I racist?” “Because you said minorities.” And I asked the whole audience, “Do you all agree that that makes me a racist because I just mentioned minorities?” And they all said yes.”

Elsewhere in the interview, he’s asked whether he views himself primarily as a comic or a writer and his answer forecasts a bit of his future…

“I don’t really ever choose one over the other. I’ve been doing standup longer, though. I’ve been doing it for almost 20 years now. And I’ve never stopped doing it. TV writing is something I’ve been more visible at because of the shows I’ve worked on and getting an Emmy and stuff. I guess the two things I really want to do more than anything are films and standup.

[Directing or acting?]

Writing and directing. And that’s a harder gig to get. I’ve only done two of those. And standup I can do a lot of, but it doesn’t pay the bills as well because I’ve got a family. So TV’s always been right down the middle. But not I also want to combine standup with television and do my own show, so that’s sort of where I’m headed.”

The Chicago Tribune Describes Louis CK’s Premises As “Over-The-Edge Weird”

In this 1999 profile of CK prior to a standup show he was doing in Chicago, the Chicago Tribune calls him “one of the more bizarre acts around.” Meanwhile, CK explains his approach to comedy at the time in the article:

“If you ask yourself, `Is there anything I can do to get a laugh?’ you can find a lot of things,” he explains. “And usually they’re things that other people have found. “But if you take something that’s never going to work and you go, `Wow, I wonder if there’s any way I can get somebody to laugh at this?’ it’s a great challenge.”

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Phil Johnson April 7, 2014 at 9:58 am

That thing about the college gigs doesn’t surprise me at all. For gigs that used to be the bastion of boundary pushing comedy, you have to be painfully PC and clean these days at colleges. Not all, but many.

Those kids have all the PC tools, but no life experience in filtering them through an actual real life yet. So those tools are sometimes misused.

But then…. Suck it up and take that sweet college gig money. :)

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