1. Anthropologist Mary Douglas has a nice definition for dirt, saying it is “matter out of place.” A fried egg on the plate is fine, but a fried egg all over my hands is dirty. Hyde continues to say that dirt is always a byproduct of creating order: to create a place for things means that there will be situations where things will be out of place. And this is why Louis CK’s comedy is dirty: the thoughts, as dark and natural as they may be, are put out of place. The secrets are told on stage in front of others, but it’s through that vocalization that we begin to understand ourselves and our relationship to the world we live in. Shame is diffused through its publication and distribution. Shame is reduced through its sharing. By pointing out the dirt, and realizing that the things themselves aren’t dirty but just out of place, we begin to see that the lines can be redrawn and order rethought. By voicing that shame, it allows one to assess if his or her thoughts or actions are worthy of that judgement, or if it is merely a casualty—dirt created by an ill-fitting standard. Articulating our impulses is dirty business, and maybe this is why Louis’ been able to tread in a territory others haven’t been able to navigate. As Fran Lebowitz said, “If you’re going to tell the truth, you better be funny. Otherwise, they will kill you.”

    — Frank Chimero

Notes

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