Not every comic knows when to walk off the literal or metaphorical stage, specifically when it comes to television. Some exit gracefully before the laughter subsides like Jerry Seinfeld did when he left his iconic sitcom behind, but there are also those that suck all the marrow out of the bone, perhaps because they realize how rare it is for a comic to find repeat success on TV.
For some reason, it always seemed more likely that Louis C.K. would stick closer to the Seinfeld model when it came time to wrap up his lauded series, Louie, but we didn't quite realize that C.K. had a hard cap in mind. On his upcoming appearance on Seinfeld's web chat show, Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, he revealed just that.
If you are unfamiliar with Seinfeld's latest endeavor, the premise is pretty basic: Jerry Seinfeld drives over to another famous comedian's house or office in an exotic and often obscure car and they go get a cup of coffee. Along the way, Seinfeld and his guests (season 3 will feature Howard Stern, Tina Fey, Patton Oswalt and others) talk about the craft of comedy and whatever else comes up.
It's a refreshing contrast to talk shows that are very rigid in their format, and Seinfeld is a surprisingly inquisitive host who often leads his guests into bursts of intimate and interesting conversation. That's something that is on full display when he and C.K. talk about ending both Seinfeld and Louie as they drive around Manhattan in a doorless, orange Fiat with wicker seats.
Jerry Seinfeld: How many years [do] you think you'll do your show?
Louis C.K.: I'd say 7 or 8, tops.
Seinfeld: Why? Why would you ever stop?
C.K.: You stopped after 9 years.
Seinfeld: Yeah, but your show's different. Your show can grow with you, my show was about four single people living this certain type of lifestyle. We didn't want to do Kramer's fiftieth birthday party.
Seinfeld does have a point about the difference between his show and C.K.'s, but if the last two years have taught us anything about Louis CK, it's that he's willing to put Louie down for a time and that he has interests beyond the show (like the new series he's developing over at FX and his recent film appearances).
Those are things that Seinfeld never attempted during his show's run, but that's understandable since he was working within the confines of a rigid broadcast network schedule making 22 episodes a season as opposed to C.K.'s more free-flowing arrangement with FX.
It's that arrangement and Seinfeld's deft observation about Louie being able to grow with C.K. that makes one wonder how long it will take for the show to get to 7 or 8 seasons and what those seasons will look like.
Is it possible that C.K. will take another extended break again, going back to Louie as his schedule allows? Is it possible that the show will move away from the 13-episode season structure and become something that runs in more self-contained bursts like the three-part "Late Show" storyline from last season?
Clearly, C.K. has a lot of power to determine what the future of his show will entail and a lot of ambition and opportunities besides the show, so anything is possible.
Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee premieres on January 2nd on Crackle. Louie returns to FX in the spring of 2014.