PORTLAND – Portland apparently gave comedian Louis C.K. an early present when he was here for a performance in November – a punch line about a bad hotel room.

In a feature called the Proust Questionnaire, for the January edition of Vanity Fair magazine, the comic was asked “What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?”

His answer: “Two nights ago. A hotel room in Portland, Maine. That’s right. Maine. Not Oregon. Maine.”

Whether the comedian was trying to be funny or was truly miffed at his accommodations is hard to say. He doesn’t list the hotel, and neither he nor his publicist were available to comment on the answer Tuesday.

What we do know is that C.K. played a sold-out show at the city-owned Merrill Auditorium on Wednesday, Nov. 7. City staffers contacted Tuesday say they don’t know where he stayed.

He did an 80-minute set that included material about watching an old woman walk a dog, which he called “misery on a rope.” So we know he likes to make jokes about misery.

Anyone who has watched C.K. on his cable comedy series “Louie” or caught his recent turn as host of “Saturday Night Live,” knows the guy can be self-deprecating but also cutting, and that he makes a living off saying things that catch people off guard.

The 45-year-old C.K. grew up in the toney Boston suburb of Newton, so maybe that’s why he wasn’t satisfied with his hotel room in Portland.

Examples of the way C.K. tries to keep people off balance are seen in the questionnaire, which is online now at VanityFair.com. In it, he alternates between dissing people and places, hurling profanities at his questioner, and making a few sincere-sounding attempts at answers.

Questioned about the living person he most admires, he answered: “The guy I saw yesterday. He was crossing Eighth Avenue against the light. He just sauntered out into the middle of the street with cars and cabs speeding toward him and it meant nothing to him. Like he’s the only living soul and the rest of us were ghosts. I love that man, whoever he is.”

He also said his idea of perfect happiness was “Not ever having to fill out this questionnaire.”

There’s probably a hotelier around here who feels the same way.

Staff Writer Ray Routhier can be contacted at 791-6454 or at:

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