Louis CK is on the cover of Rolling Stone tomorrow, and it appears he speaks more in depth about his experience growing up Mexican than he has before.
Where does Louis C.K.’s off-kilter comic vision come from? Turns out the answer may be “Mexico.” C.K. was born in California, but moved to his father’s native Mexico at age one - he and his family didn’t move back to the U.S. until he was seven or so. “Coming here and observing America as an outsider made me an observing person,” C.K. tells senior writer Brian Hiatt in the new issue of Rolling Stone. “I grew up in Boston and didn’t get the accent, and one of the reasons is that I started in Spanish. I was a little kid, so all I had to do was completely reject my Spanish and my Mexican past, which is a whole lot easier because I’m white with red hair. I had the help of a whole nation of people just accepting that I’m white.”
“Race doesn’t mean what it used to in America anymore,” he continues. “It just doesn’t. Obama’s black, but he’s not black the way people used to define that. Is black your experience or the color of your skin? My experience is as a Mexican immigrant, more so than someone like George Lopez. He’s from California. But he’ll be treated as an immigrant. I am an outsider. My abuelita, my grandmother, didn’t speak English. My whole family on my dad’s side is in Mexico. I won’t ever be called that or treated that way, but it was my experience.”
CK’s paternal grandfather, a Hungarian, immigrated to Mexico, where he met CKs paternal grandmother, who was Mexican of Spanish and indigenous Mexican ancestry. CK told Tavis Smiley in 2009 that he still holds his Mexican citizenship.
Louis CK is really comfortable talking about race and one of the most fascinating things to watch is when he deconstructs U.S. culture with older white males who have no idea how to respond.
Take for instance his latest appearance on “The Tonight Show” with Jay Leno earlier this year when he brought up slavery.
“Every year white people add 100 years to how long ago slavery was. I’ve heard educated white people say, ‘slavery was 400 years ago.’ No it very wasn’t. It was 140 years ago…that’s two 70-year-old ladies living and dying back to back. That’s how recently you could buy a guy,” CK told Leno.
And for three minutes Leno had absolutely nothing to say. During the three-minute exchange the only time Leno said something was when he tried to change the subject.