It’s hard to believe that the freckled, red-haired comedic genius that has graced the television screen in such acclaimed sitcoms as Parks & Recreation and Louie is actually of Mexican-American descent, but such is the reality in the Great American Melting Pot. Born Louis Szekely, C.K. spent the first seven years of his life in Mexico City, his father being a Mexican national, and considers English his second language.

Louis C.K. cut his teeth writing for Conan O’Brien, David Letterman, and Chris Rock before deciding to come out of his shell. His three major comedy specials—Shameless (2007), Chewed Up (2008), and Hilarious (2009)—were met with rave reviews and established C.K. as one of the top comedians in the country. In a comedic landscape that seemed barren following the loss of George Carlin, Louis C.K. is a breath of new life, exhaled through laughter.