Joe & Louie Laugh About School Bullies; Growing Up in Boston

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Louis CK

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Louis C.K. is a stand-up comedian, writer, actor, and filmmaker. Catch "Louis C.K.: Back to the Garden," an exclusive livestream event, on January 28 at www.louisck.com.

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I remember the first conversation we had. I guess I was like 20. Ever? Really? Yeah. How old are you? Because this reminds me of it. Because it was about Newton South. Oh, okay. Cafeteria. I'm 55. 55 too. I'm 55 as well. Okay, so we must have both been around 20. You started comedy, you were 21? Yeah. All right, so I must have been the same age. But we talked about fight, because I found out you were a Taekwondo guy or something. Is that what you'd fight? Yeah. And I asked you about fights. I said, do you have skills for fighting in real life? And you said, well, it's just some things you know, that put you way at advantage with people that aren't fighters. You don't wait for the fight to start, you told me. You told me you were in a cafeteria once in South and some kid came up. No, people think they're going to get to do a preamble. They think that there's going to be a whole, hey, fuck you, and now they think there's going to be like... Yeah. And as soon as you knew he was there to threaten you, you just punched him in the sternum and he just went down. He's like, hey, man, you... And then he just... Anyway, so that was the first time you'd explain that to me. Yeah. That could have been avoided. I thought about that one for a lot afterwards. Yeah. Yeah. You think you'd jump the gun? Sometimes you'd jump the gun because they're with great power comes great responsibility. Sure. The guy had... He had no chance. He was just bowing up. Right. He was just a knucklehead. Yeah. I should have probably let him slide. That's funny. Yeah, I think that's how you've changed too. Yeah. Because you were really wired then. You were tightly wired. Well, we're talking then about me being 15 or 16. That's right. Yeah. And a trained fighter at a young age. And it's also like you got this thing you want to try out. It's like you got a fast car, you want to hit the gas. Yeah, of course. Let's see what happens. Of course. This guy... Yeah, of course. Because people, in the high school, you're trying out bowing up on people. Right. It's a pretty nuanced thing to ask a kid that age to know how to back off. I don't need to fight you. Yeah. No, it's hard. It's hard for kids. I just watched this horrible brawl today that someone had put up on Twitter in a high school. It was terrible. Where all these kids were fighting in the hallway and teachers are trying to separate it. And this one kid threw this kid to the ground and punched him unconscious and the kid went into a seizure. And I'm like, oh, God. It's awful. And a lot of it is people that just don't know how to fight. And they don't know how to defend themselves. And then they're fucking flailing wildly at each other. And this one guy knew something and he threw this guy to the ground and punched him out. Fucking... This school is so dangerous. It's so dangerous because kids are just starting to get testosterone. They're just starting to become strong and almost a man. And out of lopsided too because it's all the kids who didn't... It just didn't kick in yet. It's tiny. Yeah. Well, these kids were... There was none of that. They were similar sized, but it was just awful. This is awful. There's also weird energy in school for kids that age that's... It's intricate. I remember I saw a lot in my high school fights that were between friends because there's always somebody who wants people to fight. So it's somebody who doesn't fight, but wants a fight to happen. Everybody wants to see it. So you take a kid who's trying to get some kind of status with a certain group and they go, why are you friends with that guy? That guy's a pussy. And they actually turn him on. They want to see if they can make a kid fight a friend of his. I saw that so many times. And I saw a lot of kids that were tough, but had a head, smart kids who were... I remember this one kid, his name was Chris, and his friend Doug was pushed into like, I'm going to kick your ass. And Chris could have beat Doug, but he just started crying because it was too much. Yeah, pressure. And he didn't want to fight his friend and he could hurt his friend real bad. And he's isolated. Everybody's around him. He's like now the kid, the fag, and he just started crying. And then everybody starts laughing at him because he's crying. And now he's mad. And he just beat Doug's face to red. It's like he painted his face red. Oh no. One of the most humiliating fights I ever got into was, there was never even a punch thrown. It was me, I was 14, and there was this kid in the locker room. And I don't remember what words were said, but we were standing in front of each other. And this is before I even was really into martial arts. This is one of the reasons I got into it. This kid grabbed me in a headlock, threw me on the ground, and was gonna punch me in the face, but then stopped and decided not to. So I was gonna let you up. And I was like, so humiliating. It would have been better if he hit you because then you look a little bit tough for taking the punch. Well, at least, I mean, he was so unconcerned that I could do something to him that he just let me up. And then I would avoid him. I would look down the hallway and I would open up the door to the outside breezeway and I saw him on the other side. I'm like, oh, I gotta go around this way. I gotta keep away from that guy. I was terrified of him. There was a kid, when I was a senior, I never really gotten fights. I just didn't. It just didn't happen to me. I was kind of bigger than a lot of kids my age. So I guess that, you know, I just didn't, and I didn't have a lot of conflicts with people. So I never really got much into fights. I just sort of slid through, you know, and then it's senior year. I don't know, my junior or whatever, but I was high a lot. And I was in the library and I was laughing. I was making a lot of racket in the library. I used to get yelled at all the time for being loud in the library. And this kid who was a sophomore, little kid who was like this on me, were kind of skinny and wearing a leather jacket. He goes, hey, shut the fuck up. Because he was just annoyed. And the worst part is he was right. Like I knew in my head, I'm being annoying. But I said, fuck you. Like, and I'm just like, it's status. I'm a senior, you're a sophomore. Fuck you. Shut up. And he goes, what? Fuck me? And I go, yeah, fuck you. And he comes over and he goes, you want to go right now? I'll fucking kick the shit out. He's smaller than me, but he's wiry. And I'm like, I'm scared. I was terrified. Because I don't want to fight this kid. Even if I win, I'm not going to like go unscathed. I don't want to get hurt. Yeah. I don't want to be punched in the face. I don't want any of this to happen. And he's standing above me and he's like, you want to fucking go? And I was just like, no, I don't want to fight. And he's like, then shut the fuck up then. And my friends were so ashamed of me. And for the rest of the year, I was terrified of this little kid scare. I did an episode about it in my show where some high school kid threatens to beat me up and I back down and I apologized to him. Oh, because I don't want to get. Yeah, I that kid really he'd haunted me for a long time. It can happen. Yeah, it can happen. Yeah. And he's somewhere now, you know, I got beat up on a bus by a girl when I was 14. Because I didn't fight back. I didn't know what to do. I wasn't sure if I should hit her back. Yeah. When I lived in Newton, Newton South, we would go to I think it was round meadow, which was the middle school. I think that's what it was. Okay. And we would walk across the field, because my sister was going to the middle school. And I was in ninth grade, she was in eighth grade. So I would go and take the bus with her because like the bus was earlier or something. I forget what it was. Okay. So I went over and something happened when I got on the bus. And there was this girl who like was this tough girl, smoked cigarettes, shed a leather jacket. Newton tough. Yeah. And I don't remember what happened. I don't remember what the conversation was. But she either decided I was in the wrong seat or whatever. So she just starts wailing on me. Like it wasn't even like it wasn't even like I didn't argue back. It was just like she just started punching me. Yeah. And then this little guy who was like, who I want to be my friend, his name is Muggsy Malone, he wound up being my he later went on, I think he was a politician. At one point in time, but he became my friend. Yeah, but he was just tiny little guy. He was like in fifth grade. Yeah. And in like the girl beats me up. And then, and then he comes over, he goes, I ain't fucking afraid of you either. I'm like, Oh, Jesus. What the fuck? He jumped on her side against you. 100%. Yeah. It was like one of those things where I was like, my God, I got to learn how to fight. It was like, yeah, what turned me into a martial artist. It's like, I'm tired of being terrified. Girl kicked my ass. And I didn't need to fight back. I was just like covering my head up and she's just terrible with a leather jacket on her fucking cigarette. What is her life that she needed to go right to Def Con five? Well, she wound up being the girlfriend of the guy who's the toughest guy on the wrestling team, which I joined the next season. So thank God I didn't swing back. Yeah, that would have been horrible. This guy, Mark Collins, who was like the neighborhood tough guy, who wasn't even a small guy. I wasn't even a big guy, brother. He was a small guy, but he was just fucking intense. And he was a really good wrestler. Yeah. I lived in Newtonville, which was like right along the highway. And right next to Noh Nantum, which was all those Irish and Italian kids. And so that's who I went to junior high school with and mostly high school. But there is a lot of really terrifying kids. There's a lot of scary kids. Well, blue collar communities, like I was in upper falls. Yeah. Newton upper falls. There was a lot of fucking, a lot of drinking. Yeah. Everybody would hang out by echo bridge. You remember echo bridge? Yeah, sure. That's where my house was. My house was right next to echo bridge. Yeah. Newton had a lot of, like Cabot, I went to Cabot school, elementary school, and Cabot park was a hang. And to cross Cabot park, sometimes you'd get these guys that would just converge on you. And they would play games with you and you didn't know what was going on. Hey kid, come here, come here. And then all of a sudden you're in the middle of the park and you're like, fuck. Yeah. I remember once his kids, he said he had a hundred dollar bill for some reason. And he said, we're going to play this game. They're all surrounding me. And he puts the hundred dollar bill on my hand and he gives me a cigarette. And he says, if you can burn a hole in his head all the way through, I'll give you the hundred dollar bill. And I was like, I don't want to do it. No, Jesus Christ. No, try it. Try it. And I was trying to do it and it hurt like fuck. And I don't remember how that ended. Like I just remember that terrifying and they're all staring at me. At one time some kids had a cup of puke. It was like a coffee cup with puke. And he said, can you drink this whole thing? If you drink this whole thing, we'll give you a beer. That was that thing. Oh God. Drink the beer, I'll give you a beer. Yeah. These guys just scared me. And then when I grew up, I hung out with those kids and smoked cigarettes. That's where I learned to smoke cigarettes in that park. And I drank my first beer in that park. But there was kids, there was a kid named Mike who was the toughest kid in Newton. He was just a fucking terrifying person. And there was one point where, this kid named David Russell, he was, his family lived in Boston. I don't know if you guys had Metco kids, the kids that were bused from Boston into our schools. Black kids from all black kids from Boston who were bused into our school system. It wasn't part of that Boston thing. It was out to the suburbs. And these were kids that got up at four o'clock in the morning to go to school. They were living a particular life and coming out to the suburb. And some of them were my friends. One of them was Ronnie DeVoe of Bell Biv DeVoe. No shit. Yeah. And went to high school with him. Wow. And I knew him since junior high school through high school. He was a nice kid. And when he was in first edition or new edition, they used to come get him in a limousine and people would say shout racist shit at Bobby Brown. All these guys would be in the limousine in high school. Oh, it was so racist. It was so crazy. Yes. Whoa. So David Russell was a Metco kid and his family's house burnt down in Boston. And a family in Newton, actually friends of mine, they had a rental unit and they let the Russells live there. So it was like, there's a black family living in Newtonville. It's a big deal. And everyone was into, because it was all liberal teachers, everybody was into like, we're hosting this family because they lost their home. So all of a sudden David Russell's living in Newton. He's not just going to school there. And one day, Mike and his group confront David Russell at the park and they go, hey, listen, we're really happy you're here. We want to show you this bench right here. This is your bench. And they had literally painted it black and they painted one of the swings black. They said, this is the Russell swing. This is the Russell bench. You can use it many times you want. And I remember I heard that story and I went to the park that day and there was a black bench and a black swing. And they were there. I mean, I remember I went back when I was in my twenties and it was still a little black. Yeah. Wow. Yeah. It was Newton, Massachusetts. It's crazy.