He may not fit the profile of a typical Emmy darling, but maverick comic Louis C.K. cleaned up Thursday with seven nominations across two different programs.
Though his FX series “Louie” didn’t get recognized in the comedy series category, he earned a lead actor nomination in addition to directing and writing mentions. In addition, his standup special “Live at the Beacon Theater” is up for an Emmy in the special class category, with three more for writing, direction and editing.
Not bad for someone who’s scruffy insouciance isn’t exactly a snug fit with kudocast glamour. While “Louie” has always been a critics’ darling, its deeply unconventional approach to TV is far from a slam dunk at the Emmys, which hasn’t made a habit of lauding programming that goes too far off the beaten path.
“That’s very true,” said C.K. “I’m always surprised with anything I do when it gets this kind of reception.”
“Louie” has been touted for its creator’s thoroughly uncompromising vision for a TV comedy, which often strays into dark, even depressing territory instead of pure laughs. It’s a function of the autonomy C.K. is given by FX, which took the unheard-of step of deferring creative control entirely to him. That approach is vindicated by C.K.’s rising Emmy profile.
“Beacon” may be an even more surprising choice since technically it isn’t a TV special. C.K. went the groundbreaking route of distributing “Beacon” himself on the Internet last December before licensing a second window of the program back to his “Louie” home, FX, in May.
C.K. took the unprecedented path of letting consumers download “Beacon” for $5 apiece, driving $1 million in sales in just 12 days. The direct-to-Internet route has inspired some of his fellow comics, including Aziz Ansari and Jim Gaffigan, to experiment with that business model.
This isn’t the first time Emmy has shined C.K.’s way. Last year, he was also acknowledged in the lead actor and series categories for “Louie.” Two of his previous comedy specials have been nominated, and he’s been on writing staffs that have received noms, including those of “Late Night With Conan O’Brien” and “The Chris Rock Show.” All told, he’s had 15 nominations and even won once back in 1999, for writing on “Rock.”
C.K. may be riding a wave of multihyphenate types who are bringing an auteur sensibility to the smallscreen. The Emmys have been kind in recent years to double-threat Tina Fey of “30 Rock,” which has been an awards magnet in recent years. HBO is fielding similar visionaries in the form of the “Enlightened” duo of Laura Dern and Mike White plus Lena Dunham, who dfrew multiple noms for her work on both sides of the camera on “Girls.”
C.K. believes he’s evolving along with the medium. “I think the whole shape of the TV spectrum is changing so constantly,” he said. “It’s only natural we’re all changing along with it.”
C.K. was his usual humble self on Twitter Wednesday when he got to addressing the Emmy bounty. “For the crazily 7 Emmy noms i got today, I want to thank New York City. Best backdrop, crews, actors, smell. I Love you NYC.”