Louis CK’s latest special, 2017, dropped on Netflix this week. It showcased some of his brilliance, but it didn’t quite live up to his finest work. In his monologue for this week’s episode of Saturday Night Live, he resurrected a string of jokes that he didn’t include on this latest hour — and probably should have.
“Here’s a joke,” he began, unsubtly, launching into a wandering, bit about a racist chicken crossing the road. He then went into a strangely long bit about animals that seemed, for a moment, like a deliberately set in response to his controversial SNL monologue back in 2015. It wasn’t to be: the chunk ended with CK saying he wanted to get a goat “so I can have a trash can I can make love to”.
Then things really kicked in, with a series of motel and hotel jokes. Comedians talking about travelling is a trope, but this material is CK at his finest — clever, counterintuitive but instantly relatable. Who else could complain about customer service with a line about institutional racism? “It’s wrong that white people get better treatment.
It’s wrong. But as long as they do, what’s going on in this hotel?” The other of the night was a parody of the Pepsi commercial, imagining the clueless white guy who created the ad as he realizes why it is not a good idea, one piece at at time. Clever, simple and effective, this took full advantage of both SNL’s timeliness and its network budget, able to realistically recreate an expensive commercial set on a moment’s notice.