“Through the Haha Door”: The Social Philosophy of Louis C.K.

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Brooks, Rachel Morgan
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Middle Tennessee State University
Following a line of comedians including Lenny Bruce, Richard Pryor, and George Carlin, Louis C.K. has become an influential personality not only in the world of comedy, but in society, as well. This thesis examines Louie's techniques of black humor and deadpan expression, and how those techniques serve as a tool for his social commentary. Following his comedic elements, this work also uses various theories to show that Louie is not only a comedian whom we laugh with, but a comic site onto which our own thoughts can be projected. This work then turns to Louis C.K.’s social commentary and how it connects to French philosopher Albert Camus’ philosophy of the absurd. C.K.’s commentary leads to deeper critical reflection in which he struggles with notions of eternal life, the issue of suicide, and finally, the choice to revolt rather than to succumb to life’s unanswered mysteries. Following, these comedic elements and philosophical explorations can be applied to C.K.’s feminist values. By first understanding his humor and more serious reflections, his approach to feminist topics such as power relationships, body image, and the issue of rape humor can be further explored. In this way, we can view Louis C.K. as one of the most successful comedians of our day as well as a social philosopher who encourages his audience to maintain moral soundness amidst an uncertain and chaotic world.
Absurdism, Comedy, Feminism, Louis C.K., Philosophy, Pop Culture