Like the character on his FX comedy, Louis C.K. was ready for bad news when the Emmy Award nominations were announced Thursday morning.
"I was expecting to be disappointed," said C.K., who was nominated for lead actor in a comedy series for "Louie," which has become a cult hit for FX. Besides the acting nod, C.K. was also nominated for writing "Louie" and for writing and editing a stand-up special he did for HBO.
A dark show starring C.K. as a somewhat depressed comedian struggling to make sense of the world around him, "Louie" is not the type of comedy that the sometimes conservative Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Emmy voters typically embrace.
Besides being peppered with language that is raw even for cable, "Louie" is unafraid to address taboo topics in the raunchiest of ways. His character often finds himself in awkward situations with results that swing seamlessly between the comic and the tragic. C.K. attributes his success among critics and viewers to the network's creative freedom — an atmosphere that encourages him to explore his inner demons and put it all on the screen.
"It takes a huge amount of courage on their part, that's why I'm glad to pay them back with this," C.K. said of the network. The comedian, who previously had a short-lived sitcom on HBO, said he actually got more autonomy from FX than HBO.
"HBO was a great place to work, but they were involved and they collaborated with us; FX just steps completely off," he observed.
C.K. said the hardest part of playing himself is not revealing the inner workings of his twisted mind, but what it takes to pull it off.
"It's really fun to put myself in horrible positions; the hard part is the actual work," C.K. said, noting that because he's directing and writing the show, by the time the shooting actually starts he's pretty wiped out. "I don't know my lines very well," he cracked.
In typical C.K. mode, the comedian doesn't give himself much of a chance of winning on Emmy night, which is slated for Sept. 18.
"I'm pretty outclassed there," he said of his fellow acting nominees, which include Steve Carell of "The Office" and Alec Baldwin of "30 Rock." He said he didn't expect to get "serious consideration."
Even if he doesn't get a statue, C.K. figures he and FX have already won. "We've proven that if you spend a hundredth of the money the big networks do, you can land at the same place."