You know who I feel sorry for? Medieval kings! They were the most powerful people in their kingdoms, and what did they have for entertainment? A court jester. THAT'S IT. Look, I'm the least powerful person you'll meet, and I have an endless supply of entertainment... from TV to Netflix to trampoline accidents on YouTube (AKA the pinnacle of comedy). But kings had one guy to make them laugh. And what if he was the medieval equivalent of Jay Leno? Dear god, that would eat donkey bottom.
On the upside, these court jesters or "fools" were probably a lot sharper than most modern comedians. In Shakespeare's King Lear, the fool provided satire, advice, and warnings masked within his wit—but if he got too personal, he'd immediately have to fart or cause a trampoline accident to avoid a beheading.
Very few "fools" these days really go out on the limb to point out our foibles while making us laugh—unless you count Louis C.K., who's wrapping up season four of Louie (FX, Mon June 16, 10 pm).
If you follow the outrage-bots on the internet—those who regularly go into all-cap frenzies over the slightest celebrity gaffe—you'll know this season of Louie has been controversial for daring to talk about the most interesting subject on earth, "women."
Now I'm not saying Louis C.K. is the ultimate male authority on women (that's Billy Dee Williams), but goddammit... he thinks about what he's saying. He thinks hard. In his terrific "Oh My God" HBO special, he had a great bit about how the biggest danger to women are men (see our history of beatings, murder, and rape for further details) while the biggest danger to men is "heart disease."
This is a guy who thinks about women, and then happily humiliates himself on his show so the rest of us can think about them, too. Obviously, Louis' character isn't really him, anymore than Larry David is the same "Larry David" from Curb Your Enthusiasm. That's why in the episode "So Did the Fat Lady," Louis portrays himself as a schlubby dude who only goes after unattainable hot chicks, while barely tolerating his absolutely adorable overweight friend (the brilliant Sarah Baker). Her monologue at the end of the episode may not have been the most authoritative piece ever written on weight politics—but it was funny, smart, astute, and nobody else did it.
In a more recent episode, Louis presents himself as an insecure oaf whose clumsy attempts to lure his wannabe girlfriend into the sack turned into minor-league sexual assault. It was awkward, harsh, and not at all funny—but a needed reminder that even "nice guys" have trouble escaping the slippery slope of their own entitlement.
Naturally, the outrage-bots were outraged, because Louis C.K.'s character didn't turn to the camera and clearly state, "What I did there just now was REPREHENSIBLE and WRONG." But that's not the job of the fool. His job is to meld harsh realities with hilarity—and then hold up a mirror so we might see our foolish selves in him.
This Week on Television
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 11
9:00 CW THE 100
Season finale! Octavia makes a tough decision in this sci-fi version of Lord of the Flies (with hot teens).
9:00 NBC DATELINE: THE PEOPLE VS. O.J. SIMPSON
This special features supposed testimony the O.J. jury never heard. Let me guess: HE DID IT.
THURSDAY, JUNE 12
10:00 NBC LAST COMIC STANDING
Tonight's mentors: the verrrry funny Wanda Sykes and Amy Schumer!
10:30 IFC COMEDY BANG! BANG!
Like the rest of us, host Scott Aukerman becomes obsessed with guest Nick Offerman's mustache.
FRIDAY, JUNE 13
10:00 CMT CROSSROADS
Pop superstar Katy Perry performs with Kacey Musgraves who Wikipedia tells me is an "American country music artist."
SATURDAY, JUNE 14
8:00 ABC BET ON YOUR BABY
A game show in which parents bet on whether their babies will succeed in a series of challenges, or simply sit there in their own filth.
SUNDAY, JUNE 15
9:00 PBS MASTERPIECE MYSTERY
Doctor Who's David Tennant stars as a defense attorney with a knack for getting defendants off the hook!
9:00 HBO GAME OF THRONES
Season finale! Bran learns more about his destiny. (Okay... so why doesn't he just read the books?)
MONDAY, JUNE 16
9:00 FOX 24: LIVE ANOTHER DAY
Jack and President Heller team up against the bad guys. Heyyy... the real president never asks me to do anything.
10:00 FX LOUIE
Season finale! Two back-to-back episodes of the most controversial Louie season yet!
TUESDAY, JUNE 17
8:00 FOX RIOT
Sketch and comedy competitions, this week featuring Chris Kattan and the hilarious Michael Ian Black.
10:00 FX FARGO
Season finale! Malvo gets bored and plans to take his murder spree to a new town.