Louis Szekely (born September 12, 1967), known professionally as Louis C.K., is a Mexican American stand-up comedian, television and film writer, actor, editor, and director. He is the star of the eponymous FX comedy series Louie, which he also writes, directs, and edits. Louis C.K. first took the stage in 1984 at an open-mic in Boston, Massachusetts, during the apex of the comedy boom. He was so discouraged by the experience that he didn't perform again for two years. As Boston's comedy scene grew, he gradually achieved success, performing alongside acts such as Denis Leary and Lenny Clarke. In 1989, he moved to New York City. Now in the heart of the comedy world, he performed his act on many televised programs, including Evening at the Improv and Star Search. In 1996 HBO released his first half-hour comedy special. C.K. has performed his stand-up frequently on shows such as Late Show with David Letterman, Late Night with Conan O'Brien, Lopez Tonight, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, and Jimmy Kimmel Live!. In August 2005, C.K. starred in a half-hour HBO special as part of the stand-up series One Night Stand. Inspired by the work ethic of George Carlin, the comedian who had committed to dropping all of his existing material and starting over every year, C.K. launched his first hour-long special titled Shameless in 2007, which aired on HBO and was later released on DVD. In March of 2008, he recorded a second hour-long special, Chewed Up, which premiered on Showtime Network on October 4, 2008 and went on to be nominated for an Emmy for "Outstanding Writing in a Comedy or Variety Special." On April 18, 2009, Louis recorded a concert film titled Hilarious. Unlike his previous specials, which had all been produced for television networks, Hilarious was produced independently, directed by C.K. himself, and sold to Epix and Comedy Central after it was complete. Because of this it was not released until late 2010, and published on DVD and CD in 2011. It is the first stand-up comedy film to be accepted into Sundance. In a 2010 interview, C.K. described returning to stand-up and doing specials after his divorce as a year and a half working "to catch up to" the breakup of his marriage which, although portrayed in the HBO series Lucky Louie as fractious, had nonetheless been central to the show and his life. One element in his preparation for stand-up was training in the boxing gym, including with locally well-known Lowell, Massachusetts fighter Micky Ward, trying to "learn how to ... do the grunt work and the boring, constant training so that you'll be fit enough to take the beating." On December 10, 2011, Louis C.K. released his fourth full-length special, Live at the Beacon Theater. Like Hilarious, it was produced independently and directed by C.K., but unlike his earlier work, it was distributed digitally on the comedian's website, forgoing both physical and broadcast media. C.K. released the special DRM-free for $5.00 USD, hoping these factors and the direct relationship between the artist and consumer would effectively deter piracy. The end of the film also mentions the release of a new album, recorded at Carnegie Hall the previous year. As of December 21, 2011, the sales of the special from C.K.'s website has earned him over US$1,000,000. The success of the special prompted other comedians, including Jim Gaffigan and Aziz Ansari, to release their own specials with a similar business model. On May 11, 2012, C.K. additionally made two audio-only downloads available for $5.00 USD each (WORD – Live at Carnegie Hall, and the audio version of his first HBO stand-up special, Shameless), as well as an audio-only version of Live at the Beacon Theater.