The Sundance Film Festival is famous for many things — frenzied deal-making, heady buzz-building, introducing breakout talents and future arthouse hits — but one thing it is not known for is stand-up comedy. In fact, in all the years that the festival has been running, there has never once been a stand-up comedy film included in the lineup. Until now. Comedian Louis CK — who’s established himself as one of the most acclaimed comics around thanks to his HBO and Showtime stand-up specials Shameless and Chewed Up — has landed a stand-up comedy film called Hilarious in this year’s festival. The movie, which CK directed himself, features the same brand of scabrous, brutally honest, oh-my-god-did-he-really-just-say-that humor he’s become famous for in his previous specials — only more so, CK says. “The goal with this one was just to knock the hell out of the audience, to have a pure, condensed, murderous set that just about anybody would laugh at,” he tells EW. “It’s a very well-lubed-up show. It’s like the third version of the Macbook after the other ones that had the bugs.”
CK, who has had two previous non-stand-up projects screened at Sundance, says he wasn’t completely surprised Hilarious won a spot in the festival’s lineup: “Comedy and artsy-fartsy folks have a funny relationship, but Sundance is one of the more open organizations and I had a feeling they’d give it a shot.” (He didn’t get as friendly a reception when he submitted the film to the Toronto Film Festival: “The guy wrote back something like, ‘I prefer comedians like David Cross.’ It’s like, ‘Hmm, if he’s not wearing horn-rimmed glasses, I’m not into it.’”) Still, with theatrically released stand-up concert films few and far between these days, CK has no idea what will come of his inclusion in the festival: “We’ll see. If it sells, it sells. If not, at least we got to do Sundance.” Meantime, he has a pretty nice fallback: He’s currently in production on a comedy series called Louie for FX.