Chewed Up (2008)

Starring: Louis C.K.
Grade: B-

Nowhere near as good as Shameless a year prior, Louis C.K.’s follow-up stand-up special has moments of brilliance but others that stop it from achieving greatness.


Going right for the shock value at the outset, Louis C.K. opens with the word “faggot” and how the intention of the word was never offensive. It was more used to make fun of someone or something. Going along with this, he talks about his love of the word “cunt” and how, along with the word “vagina”, they are too harsh of words to be used to describe something so beautiful. Next, he talks about how saying “the n-word” is worse than saying the word itself because it puts the word in your head. When a white person says, “the n-word” instead of the actual word, it’s as if they’re finding a way to say it without saying it.

Of course, this is all a setup for him to say, “Don’t hide behind the first letter like a faggot. Just say n*****, you stupid cunt”.

Next, he talks about him thinking about the n-word unprompted at a coffee shop, even though the employee there wasn’t black, him weighing in at 240 pounds at the age of 40, discussing this and his bad eating habits with his doctor and how “every shit is an emergency”, his love of boxer briefs and his problems with other underwear, Cinnabon, and his problems with his ankle. He went to the doctor for it, but there are no plans for reconstruction. They just tell him it’s worn out and stretching it for thirty minutes a day for the rest of his life is all he can really do. On top of that, the doctor suggests for him to take up to 10 Aleve a day. Basically, it’s about a doctor not giving a fuck when you get older as a patient. This allows for him to transition to talk about his grandma being blind in one eye and her uncaring doctor plainly telling Louis that she’s probably got a bunch of tumors in her head. Next, Louis talks about how he has a friend who has a lot of young girlfriends, how this friend thinks that if you drink a lot of milk that you’ll cum a lot (not sure where he heard that), and how Louis himself saying he had his dog lick cottage cheese off his balls when he was a teenager.

Again, this one should’ve stayed in the vault.

Following this, he brings up how awesome it is being white and how he would re-up every year if given the chance, and that if he had a time machine and went anywhere, he would still be treated well. If you wanted to understand what white privilege is as explained by a comedian, this is pretty accurate.

Going along with this, he mentions how for black people, they wouldn’t use a time machine to go anywhere before 1980 and how white people wouldn’t want to go to the future because they’re going to pay for everything they’ve done in the past (“…but until then, weeeeee”). This is yet another funny observation that you can’t deny. After this, he talks about how a deer crashed into his car even though he stopped for it, his kids getting sick all the time and transferring it to him, his daughter acting like she has a big secret to tell but it can’t be serious because she’s 5, the struggle of holding his baby while walking his talkative daughter through a public area, and feeding his kids when his daughter wants to argue. Louis brings up a valid point that it’s actually easier when the kids are babies because you can force them to eat or do whatever, but when they get older, they don’t listen and make everything a struggle. Next, he brings up a bit about changing his daughter’s diaper that’s a little too detailed, why he’s glad he didn’t have boys and his sister struggling with it, as evidenced by a moment when her son walked in and dumped sand into the drink she was holding. All of this is under the umbrella of the scarily accurate description of, “Boys fuck things up. Girls are fucked up”. He relays this to the story of his daughter breaking her toy and wanting Louis to break his other daughter’s toy to make it “fair”. He does and she grins like a maniac, and it’s funny just imagining it. Next, he talks about troubles with his marriage, going to therapy and getting stupid advice like “You should go on a date”, and him coming to the realization that his wife did him a favor by fucking him as many times as she did, checking it off as her taking at least “500” for the team. Then, he talks about how he cums every day, but he’s only fucked like 20 people, so he’s doing the brunt of the work.

Then, Louis gives us this gem: “You can figure out how bad a person is by how soon after September 11th you masturbated, like how long you waited, and for me it was between the two buildings going down.”

In typical Louis C.K. fashion, he talks about how much he hates boners and how much it sucks getting them when you’re 9 and you can’t cum for years, how he used to run home from school to fuck everything in the house (including putting his privates in the fridge door), and how when he was 20, he took a waitress back to his hotel but it never got past making out because she kept stopping him. When he saw her again, she makes it clear that she wanted to fuck, but she wanted Louis to take her by force, prompting Louis to hilariously point out the ridiculousness of this scenario, as if he’s supposed to try and rape her on the off chance that she’s into it. To close things, he talks about how he’s still attracted to his wife, not liking 22-year-old girls because they aren’t real women yet, and how there’s no Women Gone Wild DVD because when “women” go wild, they kill men and drown their kids in a tub. Finishing things off, he ends everything with a great finale of a joke saying, “You’re not a woman until you got long, chewed up nipples…and you’re not a man until you sucked one of those things”.

My Thoughts:

The best part about 2007’s Shameless was that there were no dead spots. Some bits were funnier than others, but you found yourself consistently chuckling throughout. In Chewed Up, there are a few bits that are hilarious, some that are decent, and some that never quite get there. There are some great setups, but the payoffs aren’t as funny as you’d like them to be considering the star at hand.

Once again, Louis C.K’s observations are on point. He embodies the type of comedian who talks about when you become a parent, you’re never really that good at it and your life is over. Whether it’s talking about his annoyance with his daughters, or his own health, he can really detail these relatable incidents with honesty and accuracy. Some of it can be very funny like his point about how much easier it is when your kids are babies, a kid talking nonstop about pure nonsense, or your kid refusing to eat but you have to stop yourself from flipping your shit because you can cause permanent damage to a kid in an instant depending on your actions. This is very true. It’s literally that easy, but we know how kids are too. They’re constantly trying to say something at that age, which gives us the most underrated joke from the special, with Louis mentioning how no 5-year-old says, “No, go ahead. Finish what you’re doing” before they start ranting. However, some of the bits aren’t as funny as the buildup would make it seem. You think he’s going to go deeper to make it fresh, but he doesn’t. Other times, he gets a little too “confessional” for comfort. I understand that cringe-worthy comedy is a part of his shtick but talking about changing his daughter’s diaper and cleaning the shit out of her private parts being the stuff that “Nobody tells you before you become a parent” is a little much. It’s not funny enough to bring up either. There’s a reason no one talks about it because it’s a little weird. I suppose if he had a great joke to make sense of this payoff, it could work, but describing this in detail was the payoff. The same criticism can be said about how he didn’t want boys because of his irrational fear of their dicks fucking his nose.

We can understand an irrational fear here and there, but did he deem this funny enough to explain this strange thought in full detail?

His description about his own health, eating habits, and the doctor weren’t all that impressive either. You’ve heard better from other comedians, and the line of “The meal is over when I hate myself” is something I’ve heard spoken by almost anyone I’ve ever known when it comes to the dreaded middle-age phase of life. It’s a regular quote used in everyday life. However, Louis makes it one of the key payoffs of the first half of the special and it just doesn’t hit like it should.

One thing I pointed out in Shameless was hindsight being an inevitable thought when looking at some of the bits. Well, this continues in Chewed Up like when he talks about how he’s been married for 9 years, so they’re “almost done”. It’s a great joke, but he did get divorced that year in real-life. Considering how he talks about going to therapy in the special and when the therapist suggests they go on a date Louis quips, “I did, and I don’t think I’m gonna call her again”, you can’t help but read between the lines as a fan. He almost saves it by talking about how he’s still attracted to his wife and how she’s better than 22-year-old girls, but he twists it in a very classic Louis C.K. why by saying he would jerk off to them, but he wouldn’t want to fuck them. Then, he goes back and says he does want to fuck them, but they wouldn’t, so screw it. It’s still very funny, but it’s like we’re watching a crumbling marriage in real time. Unintentionally, layers have been added to some of Louis’s best bits from his old specials because his personal life has forever changed how we view them. From a comedy standpoint, you don’t want to look at it that way, but you can’t help it. Regardless, the opening bit about offensive words is hilarious, as is the stuff about being white. Besides this, it’s just a decent watch. It’s still amusing, but it’s not as consistent as some of Louis C.K.’s other stuff. Honestly, a good portion of the material in Chewed Up is humorous, but it seems like it would feel better at home in a fictionalized biography about the comedian’s life rather than being the majority of the stand-up material here.

Chewed Up is decently funny stand-up special from Louis C.K., but the focus on parenting, marriage, and his dwindling behaviors in regard to his health take away from the truly amusing bits the special shines in. Family life can be a big part of the comedian’s act, but when it takes over a majority of it, it needs to be great. Sadly, it didn’t get better than “just okay”.

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