Louis C.K. on success: “It was a horrible process to get to this. It took me my whole life”

The NYT had a great Q&A with Louis C.K. on Saturday about how successful he’s been in taking control of his own distribution: “The Joke’s on Louis C.K.” (the editor who thought up this headline deserves a bonus).

A key exchange about how “easy” it was for him to achieve success:

NYT: Does it matter that what you’ve achieved, with your online special and your tour can’t be replicated by other performers who don’t have the visibility or fan base that you do?

Why do you think those people don’t have the same resources that I have, the same visibility or relationship? What’s different between me and them?

NYT: You have the platform. You have the level of recognition.

So why do I have the platform and the recognition?

NYT: At this point you’ve put in the time.

There you go. There’s no way around that. There’s people that say: “It’s not fair. You have all that stuff.” I wasn’t born with it. It was a horrible process to get to this. It took me my whole life. If you’re new at this — and by “new at it,” I mean 15 years in, or even 20 — you’re just starting to get traction. Young musicians believe they should be able to throw a band together and be famous, and anything that’s in their way is unfair and evil. What are you, in your 20s, you picked up a guitar? Give it a minute.

In 2010, Louis talked about how he was learning to shoot and edit Louie his own laptop. It probably wasn’t a smooth process to coordinate with actually directing, writing, and acting the show early on, but the ability to exert control over the entire creative process seems to have paid off.

I'm a programmer journalist, currently teaching computational journalism at Stanford University. I'm trying to do my new blogging at blog.danwin.com.