In his new Netflix special, “2017”, Louis CK is dressed in a suit, but he might as well be wearing a butcher’s apron. The comedian takes a boning knife the touchiest topics — abortion, Christianity, Magic Mike-fueled urges— and deftly removes the spine from the stiffest arguments. He’s a relentless slaughterer of the sacred, smiling as he moves the blade. And, considering he once called his 4-year-old daughter an asshole, Louis is never afraid to have his kids enter the fray.
Louis obviously loves his daughters. A near-constant topic in his comedy over the past decade, they’re a constant source of both frustration and adoration (i.e. “When Your Kids Won’t Eat“). In other words? He understands the constant struggle of having kids: they’re infuriating and enchanting in equal measure. He just expresses it a bit (okay much) more crudely than most.
During the new special, Louis nails this sentiment in an anecdote involving his daughter’s question about the origin of The Iliad’s Achilles. In the myth, Achilles’ mother, Thetis, dipped her infant son to the River Styx by the heel to make him immortal. “Which is an awkward way to hold a baby,” he jokes. “Try holding a baby by the heel and dipping it into a river. You will never see that baby again. That’s how you get rid of a baby. He was protected except for his heel, and that’s where we get Achilles’ heel.”
“So my daughter, here was her question. She said, ‘Why didn’t his mother just dip him again? She could’ve just dipped him one more time with the other leg in there. You’re right there! Was there a sign that said, ‘One Dip Per Goddess’? Did you ever color an Easter egg? You dip it, you hold it differently and you dip it again.'”
Louis was impressed (“Smart kid. I was proud of her,” he says), but also annoyed. “I thought, ‘Who the fuck are you to judge this woman?'” he asks. “It bothered me. Because here’s what the story of Achilles’ teaches me: If you’re a parent, it’s never enough! What you do for these motherfuckers — it’s just never enough. It’s still going to be your fault! What else could you want from this mother? She dipped her kid in magic water and protected 99 percent of his body. Is any of it up to him? He could’ve just worn a big shoe and be careful. But instead, he goes out in fucking flip-flops!”
He’s proud of her, but she never ceases to frustrate him. That’s one of those often unspoken truths of being a dad. And this is much of what cements Louis as one of comedy’s best. Is he a dad comic? No. He’s just a comic who happens to be a dad. He talks about the world around him. And sometimes that world around him just so happens to be full of kids who say silly things. And Magic Mike viewings.
Louis C.K. ‘2017’ is currently on Netflix.