Cable network shot pilot for third comedy series

Hungry for a few more laughs, FX has quietly shot a comedy pilot starring stand-up star Louis C.K.

Tentatively titled “Louie,” the half-hour is based on his life as a comedian and divorced father of two. Stories are told through a mix of standup routines and sketches (in which he acts opposite actors playing his kids, ex-wife and friends).

Project reps the third laffer in the works at the cabler, which has been aggressively looking at beefing up its comedy collection beyond vet “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.”

FX is set to elaborate on its comedy strategy on Friday during the net’s portion of the TV Critics Assn. press tour.

Cabler has had trouble in the past finding the right comedy to pair with “Sunny”; most recently, “Testees” fell short. That may be why it’s been so stealthy this time with its comedy crop.

FX has been developing and shooting laffer projects quietly for months now. “Louie” joins a slate that includes comedy “The League,” the recently shot pilot about a group of guys in a fantasy football league, and the animated half-hour “Archer,” which has already received an episodic order. FX has several more comedies in the works as well, but at the script stage.

FX plans to make a decision on both “The League” (from Jeff Schaffer and Jackie Marcus Schaffer) and the Louis C.K. project within the next 10 days. Insiders said there’s a good chance both comedies will also be ordered to series.

It’s a grassroots project for Louis, who not only wrote “Louie,” but also cast it, directed it and even edited it, with the help of $250,000 in seed money from FX. Louis shot the low-budget project in New York.

“I said, wire me a quarter of a million dollars and I’ll give you a DVD in a month, and amazingly, they did,” Louis said. “Because it was only $250,000 they had the reasonable expectation that I wasn’t going to disappear with the money. To them, it’s a low-risk thing, and for me, I was able to try different stuff.”

Louis’ life situation as a recently divorced man still co-parenting with his ex-wife largely informs both his current standup routine and this new show. His experience as a fortysomething man back on the dating scene also plays a large role.

The pilot includes two stories: In one vignette, “Louie” must volunteer at his kids’ school, and things go horribly wrong when he chaperones a field trip. In another bit, he goes on a terrible date.

“It’s a unified stream of conciousness,” he said of the show. “It all comes from me being a 41-year-old divorced comic trying to raise children, meet people and have sex.”

Word of the FX pilot comes just a day after NBC confirmed that Louis would be joining the cast of “Parks and Recreation” this season for a multi-episode arc.

Comedian is playing a potential love interest for star Amy Poehler’s character. It’s a high time for Louis, who also just received an Emmy nomination for outstanding writing in the variety/music/comedy category, for the Showtime special “Louis C.K.: Chewed Up.”

Louis previously starred in the HBO sitcom “Lucky Louie.” He’ll next appear in the Ricky Gervais feature “The Invention of Lying.”

Meanwhile, on the drama side, FX recently picked up the series “Lawman,” from exec producer Graham Yost. Meanwhile, production on the Shawn Ryan pilot “Terriers” starts next week, and Warren Leight recently joined another drama pilot, “Lights Out.”

FX is expected to pick up at least one of those two, depending on the outcome.

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