How Louis C.K. Went From a Nobody to a Legend by Using This Simple Rule

Louis C.K. sat in his car, depressed.

He was 33 years old and just finished doing his standup routine at a Chinese restaurant.

That’s right. A Chinese restaurant!

A place where nobody even knew there was going to be a comedian, and many might actually have been annoyed by his presence.

He thought long and hard about finally giving up on his dream. He had been at it for 15 years and had little to show for it. The only gigs he could get were in places where people didn’t even want him!

But what else was he going to do?

He had been a comedian for the last 15 years. He had no college education, no business experience, and he had a family to provide for. Things were looking bleak. [1]


Then Louis heard one of his heroes, George Carlin, talking on the radio about his process for creating jokes. Every year, Carlin put out a new comedy special. And every year his special was funnier than the last!

But how did he do it?

Carlin said that after he finished his special for the year, he threw out all of his material. Whatever he made jokes about in his 2001 special, he could not use for his 2002 special.

That forced Carlin to think deeper. It forced him to be more creative about what’s funny in life. This helped him reach new audiences as he continued to expand his craft.

Every year Carlin got better because he never rested on his laurels. He started fresh and forced himself to improve.

When Louis heard this, he was astonished. How could Carlin come up with new jokes every year? It took him 15 years to come up with this garbage material!

But he had nothing to lose. So why not start fresh like Carlin?

So he stopped making jokes about airline peanuts and the DMV, then went one level deeper.

He started making jokes about married life

He started making jokes about being a father

He started making jokes about being a broke comedian

Layer by layer he went deeper. Continuing to throw out last year’s jokes and start fresh with entirely new and even better material this year.

Then everything starting turning around for Louis!

It took him 15 years to make his way up to playing at Chinese restaurants,but after only 4 years of this method Comedy Central named him one of the 100 funniest standup comedians of ALL TIME! [2]

And still today his comedy special continues to get funnier.


The “Carlin method” as I’ll call it, doesn’t just have the backing of 2 of the funniest comedians of all time, it is deeply rooted in the science of excellent performance.

There are 3 proven reasons the Carlin method works so effectively:


This method is an excellent form of deliberate practice. Deliberate practice involves pushing the limits of your current abilities and working on things you’re not great at yet. [3]

Louis wasn’t great at telling jokes about being a dad, being a husband, or being a struggling comic yet. So by practicing how to make those things funny, he was expanding his abilities as a comedian.

He pushed his comfort zone and entered the learning zone — where remarkable growth occurs.

To become truly great at something like Louis CK and George Carlin, you must be willing to push your comfort zone. You must practice things you’re not great at yet, and deal with the frustrations that come with that.

To begin your own deliberate practice, use the exercise at the bottom of this article.


By following this method and throwing out his old material, Louis wasn’t just exploring different things that are funny, he was also opening his mind to the possibility that anything can be funny.

This converted his mindset from the conventional mind — where he setup rules in which some things are funny and others aren’t — into a dimensional mind — where there were no rules about what can and cannot be funny. [4]

That’s why he can make hilarious jokes about what many could never even think to consider funny. Sure, a lot of it is controversial, but he’s able to push the boundaries and still get laughs at the same time.

To become great, you must ignore the rules, become a lifelong learner, and open your mind to infinite possibilities.


It is true what they say that necessity is the mother of invention. Whenever you create a goal that absolutely has to get done your brain will switch into extreme creativity mode.

Louis needed 1–2 hours of new material every single year. Because he had that deadline, his conscious and subconscious brain were always running — looking to find new funny things to fill the time.

Because he had a clear problem that HAD to be solved, he was hyper-focused and willing to solve it all costs.

You will be surprised the level of creativity and problem-solving you will have when something HAS to get done. When you leave yourself no retreat,you will instantly double your willpower and creativity. [5]


Louis CK’s story opened my eyes to the infinite possibilities in front of me.

Willpower can be used in almost any domain. And with The Will of Heroescompleted and hitting bookshelves soon, it is time to throw out the principles I have already written about and dig to the “next layer”.

This means I will be shifting my focus from concepts that introduce willpower and how to reach your goals, to concepts like:

Overcoming addictions…

Willpower in the workplace…

Raising “willpowered” children…

And many more!

I am extremely excited about what I will learn and share with you over the coming years as I dive deeper into the science of willpower.


Louis CK spent the first 15 years of his comedy career getting nowhere. He had boring jokes, and was getting gigs in front of people who didn’t even care that he was there.

It wasn’t until he was willing to follow the “Carlin method” and create new material on a yearly basis that he really took off. After that, it only took 4 years to be named one of the 100 funniest comedians of all time.

You can use the Carlin method in your life by pushing your comfort zone, opening your mind, and leaving yourself no retreat in the pursuit of your goals. I plan to do that from now on, and I can’t wait to see what I create!