Louie, Louis: The Fictional, Stage, and Auteur Personas of Louis C.K. in 'Louie'

Melanie Piper

Abstract


This paper examines stand-up comedy in light of the persona studies idea of proliferation of the public self to consider the ways comedians are represented and self-presented. Stand-up comedy as a performance mode deploys a literal version of Goffman’s front-stage and back-stage personas, raising questions about who comedians “really” are. Where the simultaneous observation of the on- and off-stage personas of comedy performers was previously only afforded in representational fiction, the diversification of what constitutes on-stage space for comedians has provided opportunities for comedians to perform versions of their back-stage selves in a broader variety of public, front-stage spaces. In the case of American comedian Louis C.K., his television series Louie has proven to be a liminal entity that operates in the spirit of presentational media, while produced, constructed, and distributed as representational media. This paper examines Louie to articulate cultural understandings of the front-stage and back-stage personas of personal, confessional comedians like C.K. who present aspects of their private lives in their public work. In addition, I look at how C.K. asserts his public persona as a self-presentational meta-presence within the representational depiction of his fictionalised self on television. The result is a step toward considering self-performance in the front- and back-stage personas of stand-up comedians, and how representational media with a distinct authorial voice can act in the spirit of presentational media.  


Keywords


persona; stand-up comedy; self-performance; Louis C.K.; Louie

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References


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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.21153/ps2015vol1no1art415

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