Louis CK

It's about 99 percent certain that tonight's and Friday's performances by Louis CK are sold out. Still, if there is one standup comic in America today who justifies your shameless begging on the sidewalk, it is him. The guy started out in the mid-'80s as a writer and performer of fairly routine jokes. Then, after abbreviating his surname (from Szekely), he began to burrow deeply into his personal life—dating, balding, marriage, divorce, newfound wealth, bad sex, parenthood, etc. Nothing was out of bounds, and his career took off. Yet one shouldn't mistake his self-lacerating candor for ordinary oversharing. Louis isn't confessing so much as he's dissecting. His self-disgust is merely the sharp edge of the scalpel he uses to excise the disgusting cancers of our broader culture. Everything he finds wrong about himself—or so he says, for comic effect—is what we ought to recognize in ourselves: pettiness, vanity, selfishness, and sanctimony. Fresh off hosting SNL, on hiatus after the third acclaimed season of Louie on FX, Louis is taping his current tour for an HBO special. Which, in truth, is probably the only way you'll see this show. BRIAN MILLER

Thu., Dec. 20, 6 p.m.; Fri., Dec. 21, 7 p.m., 2012

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