In the world of Public Access Cable Television, few “stars” acknowledge their humble beginnings in local cable TV. In this fascinating interview, Louie C.K., one of the hardest working comedians and actors in television, shares many insights about how he learned his craft and developed his multiple skills. It all started when he was 16 years old and working as the technical director doing local football games. The following excerpt was published as part of a longer interview in AV Club magazine –click here to read it all.
AVClub: In a conversation with fans on Reddit, you wrote that one of the last jobs you had before becoming a comedian was covering football games for local cable-access. That seems like, on one hand, terrible and an incredibly tedious gig, but on the other hand really useful in terms of learning how to put something together.
LCK: Totally. Really useful. Yeah. Covering football games-
AVClub: How do you get a job like that?
LCK: Well, I was technical director of a cable station, so I had to do everything. But you get it by going to a local-access cable station-I don’t know if they still have those. But I was a volunteer intern, and I was in high school. And I learned how to use every machine in that place. My biggest advice to people would be key on the technical. If you learn how to use these machines-cameras and editing systems and stuff like that-then you will have the tools to do stuff creatively. There’s some people who turn up their nose to the technical side of production. It’s the dumbest thing that people do, because then you need to get permission and crews to shoot for you. But I learned how to fix the f***ing cameras at this local-access cable station. I knew how to do everything. So I could be trusted with the equipment. That’s really all it ever comes down to, is insurance. They can’t f***ing give you the equipment unless there’s somebody qualified to run it. And I learned how to do this stuff when I was 16 years old. So out of high school, I worked at a cable station, and I covered the football games. And so I had to drive this little remote van with a switcher in it and cameras and three big, f***ing heavy cases. And there’d be, like, three volunteers with me. Had to drag these cameras up to vantage points around the football field, and the clock is ticking and people are showing up for the game, and start placing the cameras, register the cameras-which is a really weird technical process with tiny screwdrivers-plug them into the van, f***king fire up the van, get all the shots right, punch in all the f***ing names of the players and their numbers, and get ready, and here comes the game. It’s a lot of pressure. Yeah, huge training ground. Great benefit.