“Horace and Pete” is not a comedy.
Despite being the brainchild of Louis C. K., known for his standup comedy and comedy show “Louie,” and despite starring the likes of Alan Alda of “M*A*S*H” and Joe Pesci, the web series is a real-time, real-life drama with some real-life comedy thrown in for good measure.
The first, and most striking, feature of “Horace and Pete” is the stage-like setting of the show. Watching this web-series is much like watching a play.
There is only one set shown in the first episode, the bar named Horace and Pete.
In addition, there are only a few camera angles throughout the entire one-hour episode. There is no score and there is no audience or laugh track. It really feels like you are in a bar with Louis C.K. and friends.
The pacing of the episode is what I could only describe as lifelike. There are no cuts to scenes in the future or the past, or to things happening elsewhere in the world.
Many of the scenes consist of dialogue between the main characters or conversations between customers at the bar. Though there is little action in the scenes, the conversation and interactions between characters fill much of the space.
The fact that the show is filmed on one set also means that time between scenes is very short, if there at all. This means that the actors had to memorize and perfect lines for scenes much longer than is normal in most modern shows and movies.
There are obvious slip-ups, but they do not detract from the quality of the show; instead they add to the authenticity of the real-life feel of the show.
The web series’ theme is quite in line with Louis C.K.’s comedy, minus the comedy.
“Louie,” his popular comedy show, highlights the pitfalls of Louie’s life, both his family life and his love life. Louie’s comedy is charmingly self-deprecating, and resonates because it is much closer to reality than the glamorous and seemingly perfect lives people usually see on television.
In the first episode, Horace’s (Louis C.K.) struggles to relate to his daughter, run his business and keep his bar are played out in real time.
In this story, there is no clear protagonist or antagonist; though you may sympathize with Horace, you also sympathize with his “adversaries” and their points. The effect is a show that keeps you thinking throughout.
Louis C.K. plays naturally into the role of a barkeeper trying to just keep his life together while everyone else seems to be falling apart or drifting away.
Alan Alda, famous for his role as Pierce on “M*A*S*H,” plays an aging barkeep, Uncle Pete. Alda’s humor shines through in the form of unapologetic swearing and political incorrectness.
It is important to note at this point that this show differs from other fictional shows in one very interesting way: the conversations in the show are now about abstract ideas or events happening in the fictional world of “Horace and Pete.”
Instead, “Horace and Pete” exists in our world and reflects this fact in conversations at the bar.
The likes of Donald Trump, the Iowa Caucus and Hillary Clinton’s emails come up in conversation, as well as a rather meaningful discussion about the meaning and perception of “liberal” and “conservative.”
Overall, “Horace and Pete” is a very interesting mix of stage and film, as well as comedy and drama. The show’s realism is appealing because it doesn’t glamorize life; it shows life for what it is.
The range of talent brought together for the series is promising as long as the series continues to touch on issues accessible to a wide and modern audience.
The episodes can be purchased on https://louisck. net/package/horace-and-pete.com.
Originally published in the Feb. 17, 2016 print edition of The Echo.
image via www.salon.com