Over the weekend, Louis CK – aka the funniest man in North America, if not the world – suddenly transformed into the Beyonce of comedy by surprise releasing the first episode of a brand new show. Called Horace and Pete, it’s a slow-burning, brilliantly bleak comedy drama set in the titular 100 year old Irish bar in Brooklyn. He’ll be releasing one episode a week – with the next coming this Saturday (Feb 7) – and it’s available exclusively via CK’s own website, where he usually posts $5 downloads of his standup specials. Here are 7 totally compelling reasons why you need it in your life.
The cast is killer
Alongside star Louis CK – who is also directing, writing and producing the show – Horace and Pete has attracted some serious star power, in the shape of Steve Buscemi, Edie Falco, Rebecca Hall, Alan Alda, Jessica Lange and Saturday Night Live’s Aidy Bryant, who all play a selection of barflys and family members populating the run-down, old-timey New York bar. The bar itself is basically a little like Cheers if Norm decided to go deep on chats about presidential candidate selection with random passing hipsters and Carla called Hillary Clinton a cunt.
It’s bracingly up to date
Filmed, and seemingly written, the week before its release, the show is chock full of references to contemporary events in American culture. So not only do we get nods to this coming weekend’s Super Bowl in episode one, but there are also mention of the Iowa Caucus, deliberations on the audacity of Donald Trump, and the aforementioned casual c-bombing of Mrs Clinton by the double Academy Award winning Jessica Lange.
It’s wonderfully theatrical
What sets Horace and Pete apart from every other television show out there right now is its old school approach. More of a play than a sitcom, the staging is refreshingly old fashioned and the show runs in real time, as is seemingly shot live. Yet the occasional line fluff here and there, and subtle moments where certain actors come in and out of focus only makes you sit up and take more notice.
Paul Simon sings the theme song
When one of the greatest living songwriters sings the theme tune to a new show, you know you’re onto a winner. A softly plucked Spanish guitar heralds the shows opening, before returning in the the intermission – yes there’s an intermission – while the full version runs as the credits roll. “Hell no/I can’t complain about my problems/I’m ok the way things are/I pull my stool up to the bar/at Horace and Pete’s,” sings the man who wrote ‘Graceland’. Sold.
It’s $5 – but you get what you pay for
Ok, so the first episode costs $5 (£3.43), but c’mon that’s less than a pint, and trust us, you’re going to get a lot more out of watching these people sip beer than you will do drinking it. “I charged five dollars because I need to recoup some of the cost in order for us to stay in production… Basically this is a hand-made, one guy paid for it version of a thing that is usually made by a giant corporation,” explains Louis, adding “money is shooting out of my asshole like your mother’s worst diarrhea.” Also, post-episode one, the cost goes down, with episode two at $2 (£1.37), and then every following show at $3 (£2.06).
It’s value for money
And while we’re on it, this isn’t just some 25 minute, over-before-you’ve-finished-your-second-slice-of-Dominos telly. The first episode is a whopping 67 minutes long, which frankly edges it towards short film territory.
You have no idea what’ll come next
Louis CK has explained that his reason behind the surprise release of the show was that so viewers arrived at it with no preconceived notions of what it might be, without being bombarded by adverts, trailers and promotional campaigns for weeks or even months before broadcast. “As a writer, there’s always a weird feeing that as you unfold the story and reveal the characters and the tone, you always know that the audience will never get the benefit of seeing it the way you wrote it because they always know so much before they watch it,” explains CK. “And as a TV watcher I’m always delighted when I can see a thing without knowing anything about it because of the promotion.” So hell, forget you read any of this and get downloading Horace and Pete instead.