Known for his notoriously caustic riffs on fatherhood and family life, flame-haired comedian Louis C.K. was a well-known fixture in comedy clubs beginning in the late 1980s and leading up to writing turns on "Late Night with Conan O'Brien" (NBC, 1993-2009) and "The Chris Rock Show" (HBO, 1997-2000). The same man who won an Emmy for the latter also wrote and directed the notorious comedy bomb "Pootie Tang" (2001). He made headlines for top-lining HBO's groundbreaking and controversial sitcom, "Lucky Louie" (2006), and continued to record comedy specials at an impressive rate, racking up a number of fans not only in the paying audience, but amongst his fellow stand-ups as well. A recurring role on "Parks and Recreation" (NBC, 2009-2015) as Amy Poehler's good-hearted cop boyfriend helped pave the way for his return to headlining his own show, the critically acclaimed hit "Louie" (FX, 2010-15). Wherever his career took him, the Emmy-winning comedian made the most of every opportunity, growing a sizable and devoted fanbase who hung on his every word, much as audiences had with comedy visionaries like George Carlin and Richard Pryor before him. However, allegations of sexual misconduct that were an open secret in the comedy community for years returned to the public eye in November 2017 when the New York Times confirmed long-rumored stories about C.K. both masturbating in front of women and asking women if he could do so. C.K. confirmed the stories in a public statement the following day. The immediate fallout included the loss of a distribution deal for the film "I Love You, Daddy" (2017), a film about a May/December romance starring Chloe Grace Moretz and John Malkovich which C.K. had written and directed in homage to Woody Allen's "Manhattan" (1979).
Born Louis Szekely (pronounced SEE-kay) in New York City on Sept. 12, 1967, C.K.'s family moved to Mexico shortly after his birth, making Spanish his first language. His heritage was an eclectic mixture of Mexican and Hungarian from his father, and Irish on his mother's side. After six years in Mexico, the family returned to the States and settled into Newton, MA. In grade school, he resorted to going by C.K. when it became clear that "Szekely" was too difficult for anyone to pronounce correctly. Though underage, C.K. began performing in Boston-area comedy clubs during his senior year of high school. In 1990, he moved to New York, continuing to make the rounds on the comedy circuit, as well as gaining exposure by appearing on many televised comedy shows. In the early nineties, C.K. took his talent behind the scenes when he became one of the original writers for "Late Night with Conan O'Brien" (NBC 1993-2009) as well as "The Dana Carvey Show" (ABC, 1996), the latter of which may have been too raunchy for American audiences and was soon canceled.
In 1996, C.K. formed two pivotal business relationships - one, with HBO, which gave him his own comedy special, and the second, with comic Chris Rock, who hired him as a writer/producer for "The Chris Rock Show," (HBO 1997-2000), earning C.K. an Emmy in 1998. That same year he wrote and directed his first feature film, "Tomorrow Night," an independent comedy shot in black and white about a loner who marries an elderly woman, only to decide that she has too much baggage and ends up retreating back to his loner ways. His collaboration with Rock provided C.K. with the opportunity to write and direct his first major studio film, the critically maligned cult classic "Pootie Tang" (2001). The film, starring Rock, chronicled the exploits of a crazy musician-actor-folk hero of the ghetto, and was a C.K. idea created for "The Chris Rock Show."
As the years went by, the more domesticated C.K. grew with home and family, the more brash his stand-up comedy became. His wife and daughters bore the brunt of his comic wrath, with jokes conceding that he understood why people threw their babies in dumpsters. Even with the comic flying under the radar, HBO continued its lovefest for C.K., commissioning another comedy special from him in 2005. That same year, he was chosen by both Variety and Hollywood Reporter as a comic to watch. 2006 was a benchmark year for C.K. He collaborated yet again with Chris Rock, sharing writing credits on the Rock-directed feature "I Think I Love My Wife" (2007). In June of 2006, HBO debuted its sitcom "Lucky Louie" written, directed, produced by and starring C.K. Based on his real life, the sitcom was unafraid to offend the viewing audience and became famous for its rampant foul language, full-frontal male nudity, and ugly, T-shirt-wearing sex between C.K. and his onscreen wife, Kim (longtime friend Pamela S. Adlon), all daringly performed in front of a live studio audience in the manner of vintage network sitcoms. Unfortunately, the show was canceled by September of that same year.
Also that year, the comedian starred in his first hour-long stand-up special, "Louis CK: Shameless." When it aired the following year, its success fueled a cross-country tour where the comedian performed to sold-out venues. He notched several movie credits, including supporting roles in "Diminished Capacity" (2008) alongside Virginia Madsen and Matthew Broderick, "Welcome Home, Roscoe Jenkins" (2008) opposite Martin Lawrence and Mo'Nique, and "Role Models" (2008) with Paul Rudd. He played a larger part as Ricky Gervais' sidekick in the satirical alternate-universe comedy "The Invention of Lying" (2009). C.K. also began recurring on the popular sitcom "Parks and Recreation" (NBC, 2009-15) as a straight-arrow police officer romancing Amy Poehler's Leslie Knope. C.K. continued with his comedy, shooting a second hour-long special of all-new material with "Louis CK: Chewed Up" (2008) and taping "Louis CK: Hilarious" (2010), which he hoped to show theatrically. Fans rejoiced to hear that the comedian had earned another sitcom, "Louie" (FX, 2010-15), a quirkier, moody series that explored more complicated emotions with regular excursions into unexplained surrealism. A critical success that engaged a vociferous cult following, "Louie" gave the comic Emmy nominations for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series in 2011 and 2012. In the latter year, C.K. earned two Emmy Awards, one for Outstanding Writing on "Louie" and the other for Outstanding Writing for a Variety Special with "Louie C.K. Live at the Beacon Theatre." He closed out the year with a Golden Globe nod for Best Actor in a Comedy Series. During an extended break between the show's third and fourth seasons, C.K. co-starred in David O. Russell's "American Hustle" (2013) and had a supporting role in Woody Allen's comedy-drama "Blue Jasmine" (2013). "Louie" returned to the air in the summer of 2014. Following appearances in "The Angriest Man in Brooklyn" (2014) and the Blacklist-era biopic "Trumbo" (2015), C.K. announced that "Louie" was going on an indefinite hiatus following its fifth season.
C.K. kept busy in a variety of fields, appearing in a lead voice role in the animated hit "The Secret Life of Pets" (2016) and co-creating two series starring longtime friends, Zach Galifianakis' "Baskets" (FX 2017- ) and Pamela Adlon's "Better Things" (FX 2016- ). He also created a web series set in a Brooklyn bar, "Horace and Pete," which he self-funded and sold through his website, and released another stand-up special, "Louis C.K. 2017" (2017). Keeping with his new creative credo of filming his work in secret, C.K. wrote, directed and co-starred in "I Love You, Daddy" (2017), starring Chloe Grace Moretz as a teenager who begins dating a film director with a well-known predilection for young women, played by John Malkovich. Shot in black and white in conscious homage to Woody Allen's "Manhattan" (1979), the film played the festival circuit in 2017 was set to premiere later that year. In the wake of sexual misconduct allegations against Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey and other Hollywood stars, the New York Times published a story on November 9, 2017 in which five fellow comedians and other industry professionals stated that C.K. had either masturbated in front of them or attempted to pressure them into letting him do so. Some of the stories had been an open secret in the comedy community for years, but this was the first time the women had been identified by name. The following day, C.K. released a statement admitting to the incidents, and distributor The Orchard announced that the release of "I Love You, Daddy" was canceled.
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Made first short film, "Ceasar's Salad"
Joined NBC's "Late Night With Conan O'Brien" as one of the original staff writers
Briefly worked as a writer for the "Late Show with David Letterman" (CBS)
Filmed six Short Films for Showtime's sketch comedy show "Sunny Skies"
Was hired as a writer for the short-lived ABC sketch show "The Dana Carvey Show"
Starred in his first "HBO Comedy Half-Hour" special
Directed his first feature, the independent film "Tomorrow Night"; also wrote and produced
First collaborated with Chris Rock on "The Chris Rock Show" (HBO) as a writer and producer
Wrote various segments for NBC's "Saturday Night Live"
Hosted the syndicated show "Short Cuts" on PBS
Hosted "Louis C.K.'s Filthy Stupid Talent Show" on Comedy Central
Wrote and directed the blaxploitation parody "Pootie Tang," co-starring Rock; adapted from a sketch that first appeared on "The Chris Rock Show"
Released first comedy album <I>Louis C.K. - Live in Houston</i>
Teamed with Chris Rock to write a remake of "Heaven Can Wait" (1978) retitled "Down to Earth"; starred Rock in the lead role
Wrote and produced "Cedric The Entertainer Presents" on Fox
Voiced Brendon Small's estranged father Andrew Small in "Home Movies" on the Cartoon Network
Performed in the HBO half hour stand-up special "One Night Stand"
Created and starred on HBO's first multi-camera sitcom "Lucky Louie"; also wrote and directed
Headlined the HBO comedy special "Shameless"
Played Big Stan in "Diminished Capacity," starring Matthew Broderick and Alan Alda
Re-teamed with Chris Rock to co-write "I Think I Love My Wife"; also directed by Rock
Performed in the comedy special "Louis CK: Chewed Up" on Comedy Central
Joined Ricky Gervais in the comedy film "The Invention of Lying"
Guest starred on the NBC comedy series "Parks and Recreation" as the policeman boyfriend of Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler).
Starred on FX's "Louie," a semi-autobigraphical comedy about a divorced father of two
Appeared in Woody Allen's "Blue Jasmine"
Co-starred in David O. Russell's "American Hustle"
Co-starred in "The Angriest Man in Brooklyn," opposite Robin Williams in one of the final roles filmed before Williams' suicide.
Appeared in the blacklist-era biopic "Trumbo"
Announced that "Louie" was going on an indefinite hiatus following its fifth season
Created and starred in Horace and Pete, alongside Steve Buscemi
Wrote, directed and starred in the drama "I Love You, Daddy"; the film's release was put in jeopardy when allegations of sexual assault were levied against him in the New York Times