“This is the Guy”: David Lynch’s Guest Appearance on ‘Louie’

As a victim of my own youth, I never watchedTwin Peaks when it was on the air. And even now, it’s very rare to flip through the channels and seeBlue Velvet or Lost Highway or Mulholland Dr. playing. Not only that, but it’s been over half a decade since David Lynch had a film to promote. So the concept of turning on my television and seeing that perfectly sculpted quaff of white hair and hearing that “Jimmy Stewart from Mars” timbre is not usually something to be expected. But leave it to Louis CK to change that.

From Parker Poser and Chloe Sevigny to Marc Maron and Melissa Leo, this season of Louie has featured some pretty notable guest appearances. But last night’s episode, the second installment of his Late Night saga, featured the king of absurdity himself, David Lynch, as Louie’s coach—a bizarre and surreal character that was as wise as he was hilarious. And people went nuts for it. As it turns out, the crossover between David Lynch fanatics like myself and Louie fans is surprisingly large—and rightfully so. The more I think about it, the more these two make a perfect pairing; one is grounded in the mundane reality of everyday life, the other off in some nightmarish dreamscape. But at the end of the day, both are just regular guys with tremendous control over their skill, using their work to show a heightened version of reality that not only reveals the things we ignore or choose to hide but also finds the humor even in the darkest of places.

This past July, Louis CK broke the record for the most Emmy nominations in a single year. The person to hold that title before him? David Lynch for Twin Peaks. And although Louie and Twin Peaks have almost nothing in common on a conceptual level, they both ushered in a new kind of television series that pushed boundaries and broke from the typical sitcom or drama format that was as lovable as it was twisted, setting them miles above everyone else. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly in July, Louis said, “I love that David Lynch had the record before me. I love him. He’s like an idol of mine.”

And when you really think about it, you can almost see a direct parallel between Louis’s character Louie and Henry in Eraserhead. Just think about the infamous dinner scene in beginning of Eraserhead in comparison to the season opening with Louie and his girlfriend in a diner. Both Louie and Henry are perennially wearing a face of perplexed anxiety or confusion as they kind of meander through life, just trying to get by while the duel fears of failure and parenthood loom over them. The absurd characters that pop up on Louie really do feel like they could have been plucked from Lynch’s own coffee pot, for example, that kid who “diarrhea’d in the bathtub” or the parents that just pounce on Louie for help, it seems, whenever he goes to pick his daughters up from school. There’s also Louie’s use of long, painfully awkward takes that leave you questioning whether to cringe or to laugh, that feel inherently Lynchian in their almost uncanny delivery. Whether you can see the multiple comparisons or not, there’s no denying last night’s episode was one of the best of the season and proved not only that Louie’s writing just keeping getting better and better, but that if David Lynch really isn’t making movies anymore, then perhaps it’s time someone gave him his own late night talk show.


Image via Jake Fogelnest

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