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What Louis C.K. Can Teach You About Success

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Fans of Louis C.K. were revelling after Louis won Emmy awards for best comedy writing for Louie and for his special Louis C.K. Live at the Beacon Theatre. His special, which was available only online, was such a critical and commercial success, it established him as not only a creative talent, but an enterprising digital entrepreneur.

So when Louis speaks about the intersection of his creative and commercial success, the industry listens. Below are links to two recent podcasts that will interest Louis C.K. fans, or anyone with an interest in the business of engaging audiences online or through television.

But first I'd like to share my "brush with greatness" story from the time I worked on a show for the Canadian "specialty channel," The Life Network.

In 1996 I had the good fortune to work on a Canadian TV talk show called John Oakley Live on Life. The host, John Oakley, is a connoisseur of contemporary comedy. My job was to get guests for the show; I was limited only by my imagination and my ability to convince people to come to Toronto for a night, all expenses paid.

The top comedy "gets" were Louis C.K., Ray Romano and Robert Schimmel.

Notable writers that I was able to convince to appear on the show included Tony Hendra, who wrote for National Lampoon magazine from its beginning in 1970, and Robert Smigel best known for writing the Saturday Night Live TV Funhouse cartoon shorts and as the puppeteer, and voice, behind Triumph, the Insult Comic Dog.

Prior to his appearance on the show, I remember being really impressed with Louis C.K. He was prolific and hard working, directing short films on his own time, while writing for TV shows including The Dana Carvey Show and Late Night with Conan O'Brien. He took filmmaking very seriously.

Louis, like many others, had his share of ups and downs before gaining popular success. Here's a link to a recent, candid interview on KCRW's The Treatment. Louis talks about his early work, especially his 2001 box office flop Pootie Tang. The references to Fellini and Godard won't come as a surprise to serious fans.

And here's a marvellous companion piece. It's an interview, from KCRW's The Business, with the president of FX Networks John Landgraf. Landgraf transformed FX into a producer of creative, award-winning television. He accomplished this, in part, through the unconventional deal he struck with Louis C.K. (Landgraf also talks about why he passed on the critical and commercial success Breaking Bad.)

Enjoy the podcasts. If you haven't already heard it, the other podcast not to be missed is Louis' appearance on Marc Maron's popular WTF Podcast.