Louis CK is attempting a comeback

And he’s getting worse, taking a big fat dump on his former fans. He’s gone full on Dennis Miller, throwing out bullying conservative crap.

He bemoans how younger people will tell him, in relation to gender identification, that he has to use specific pronouns preferred by the person. They’re like royalty! he said. They tell you what to call them. ‘You should address me as they/them, because I identify as gender-neutral.’ Oh, OK. You should address me as ‘there’ because I identify as a location. And the location is your mother’s cunt.

I listened to a chunk of it, and seeing it written down does not communicate the full awfulness of it. He affects a stereotypical ‘effeminate’ gay voice when he’s stating what those terrible young people are saying. It’s cheesy, low humor that isn’t even creative — people have been making these same stupid pronoun jokes for decades.

The closest he comes to topicality is to complain about the Parkland shooting survivors. How dare they complain about getting shot at? They’re supposed to be in a basement fingering each other and doing jello shots like he did as a teenager.

They testify in front of Congress, these kids? What are they doing?, he said. You’re young, you should be crazy, you should be unhinged, not in a suit… you’re not interesting. Because you went to a high school where kids got shot? Why does that mean I have to listen to you?… You didn’t got shot, you pushed some fat kid in the way, and now I’ve gotta listen to you talking?

Fortunately, I don’t have to listen to Louis CK talking — he’s dead to me. Even if he were to reverse course on this ugly trajectory he’s taking, this trash won’t be forgotten. He’s a conniving opportunist looking for an ever uglier audience to give him money. If you do track down the recording of this set, be prepared to be appalled at the audience — they’re shrieking like happy hyenas at the cheap shots and bigotry.

He might actually succeed, in other words.

It’s sad, too. He had the choice of the hard, slow, slog towards earning redemption, or the fast, cheap, easy path of pandering to deplorables. It’s clear what he has chosen to do.

The truth is, and we’re self-aware enough to admit it, that in the conversation about the paths to a comeback we’re talking about with so many male celebrities, Louis C.K. may have had the easiest one. The work he has created, be it Louie or his stand-up, is so celebrated by liberal, progressive critics that there would likely have been an eager leap to forgiveness had he handled the aftermath with any sort of contrition, education, campaigning or awareness.

Instead, we’ve been greeted by smugness, pettiness, offensiveness, and frustration, the kind that signals nothing learned—when the base level for some of our forgiveness is anything learned—and a pandering to the kind of community that will cheer his ignorance and amplify his message.

He’s had the opportunity to champion a lesson that leads us forward in this conversation. It may not be an opportunity he volunteered for, but he’s now obligated to perform the community service. And he’s not just ditching it. He’s rejecting it completely.

Another harm he has done is that at least some comedians have worked hard to do the respectable work of afflicting the comfortable — of satire as a tool to put authoritarians in their place. He has joined the well-populated ranks of comedians who blame “PC culture” for killing their acts, rather than that punching down is cowardly. We live in an ugly oligarchy/kleptocracy where inequities are everywhere, where there’s no shortage of targets for good satire, where the wealthy are investing in anti-science demagoguery and race-baiting, and if you choose to avoid the obvious and take nothing but cheap shots against oppressed minorities and helpless kids, then you are bringing all of comedy into disrepute.

If you do listen to that Louis CK set, that’s what you’ll hear: he’s “getting paid to make a bunch of drunk people laugh”, like the guy in the audience who, when Louis CK says he’s going to mock the Parkland survivors, yells “FUCK THEM!”

If stand-up comedy is nothing but bigots shilling for homophobia, transphobia, and racism, well then…fuck them.


  1. Zeppelin says

    they’re shrieking like happy hyenas at the cheap shots and bigotry

    That’s a very unfair comparison, happy hyenas are adorable! And don’t shriek.

  2. doubtthat says

    I’m a little surprised, given his past work, that he’s gone full right wing douche. It’s probably a sound business decision as he can be the opening act CPAC for all of eternity and will probably end up with a Fox News Show.
    But holy Jesus Farts, going for the “…well I identify as a…” Derp Derp. That has been hack bullshit for decades at this point. Every comment thread on trans issues ever has some shit coming in with that take.
    I really enjoyed a lot of his stand up – obviously pretty meaningless given his behavior, but it had some insight into the human condition that was nuanced. What a bizarre fall this was.

  3. microraptor says

    I had never actually heard of Louis CK before his fall from grace, but this doesn’t really surprise me. I’m sure he’ll have a long, lucrative career mocking the way a kid with Downs Syndrome runs at the Special Olympics and questioning the masculinity of male rape victims. Because that’s “edgy” and “cool” for stand up comics to do.

  4. whheydt says

    I was at a small SF convention (SMOFcon 36, about 150 attendees) recently. They had badge ribbons one could use to supply ones preferred pronouns.

  5. screechymonkey says

    I was one of those people who would have been willing — some would say too willing — to let go of CK’s past and watch new specials and TV shows from him. He was incredibly talented, and seemed to have some social awareness. But to see him go down this ugly route just because he had a temporary setback from being called on his shit….

    It also sheds some light on his past offenses, too. Although he admitted to the sexual acts, CK always maintained some “plausible deniability” as to the allegations that his victims were blackballed or threatened with it — he made some vague statements about how his then-agent might have done some things without his knowledge or approval in a misguided attempt to protect CK. But given this meltdown, it seems pretty obvious that CK is a vindictive guy who wouldn’t hesitate to ruin a woman’s career.

  6. flange says

    Louis CK is done. The “N” word has had nothing to do with it. I used to like watching him— he was funny and insightful. When I learned that he would masturbate, unsolicited in front of women, I knew I couldn’t watch him without thinking, “What an asshole.” He did it to himself. No apology or contrition is going to bring Louis CK back, at least to the ranks of a decent human being. He’s irredeemable.

  7. Owlmirror says

    And now, Great Innovations in Comedy. You are there, inside the mind of Louis CK:

    Oh . . .
    I’ve been called out for being a harassing asshole on multiple occasions . . .
    I feel like I should learn something from this sad and humiliating experience. . .
    . . . thinkthinkthink . . .
    . . . thinkthinkthink . . .
    . . . thinkthinkthink . . .
    . . . thinkthinkthink . . .
    . . . thinkthinkthink . . .
    . . . ding! lightbulb!

    I’m a super-genius at being an asshole!
    I should pander to an audience of assholes!
    I should double down on the assholery to an audience of assholes!
    My comeback is assured . . . !!

  8. Curt Sampson says

    So if Louis C.K. believes that we can all ignore people’s preferred pronouns, does that mean she’s happy with me using whatever pronoun I prefer for her?

  9. says

    @10 Curt Sampson
    As a trans women I can tell you that mispronouning a jerk doesn’t make our world better. It just says pronouns can be used as weapons. Usually against us.

  10. unclefrogy says

    You should address me as ‘there’ because I identify as a location. And the location is your mother’s cunt.

    to translate that into more common phrasing “call me a “m….. F…..” cause that what I am, yes you are thanks for coming out of the closet of pretending to be a decent human being it takes real courage!
    uncle frogy

  11. unclefrogy says

    You should address me as ‘there’ because I identify as a location. And the location is your mother’s c… .

    to translate that into more common phrasing “call me a “m….. F…..” cause that’s what I am, yes you are thanks for coming out of the closet of pretending to be a decent human being it takes real courage!
    uncle frogy

  12. gijoel says

    Recently a friend told me about her ex’s humiliation kink. He’d insist on sleeping on the floor at the bottom of her bed, masturbating in front of her, etc. In their year together they never had intercourse. Reading this now made me realize that kind of kink is incredibly selfish. This isn’t a dig at S&M enthusiasts, I believe they genuinely want to please their partners.

    I think deep down Louis CK has always been a selfish man, which is why his tirade against activist children came so easily for him.

  13. Johnny Vector says

    He has joined the well-populated ranks of comedians who blame “PC culture” for killing their acts, rather than that punching down is cowardly.

    I like Popehat’s take: “So @louisck attacking shooting survivors and trans people is actually punching up, when you recall that he’s a sad-sack bowl-circling compulsive masturbator.”

  14. colinday says

    We have the expression “Speaking truth to power”. Is there any such thing as speaking truth to weakness? Of course, even if there were, comedy might not be the best way of doing it.

  15. methuseus says

    I’ve never liked Louis CK. Yeah, he had some insights, but he was always an asshole about it, just like the guys who used to bully me when I was in elementary and middle school.
    As for hearing the “effeminate” gay voice PZ mentioned, I’ve seen enough if his shit to automatically hear the whole thing in his voice, “effeminate” schtick and all. So, no, I’m not going to listen to is as I have the full effect. Of also from the bullies who used to talk to.about me in that sort of voice, too.
    Sorry, it’s just very obvious that PZ was not bullied in the same way. Of course I’m the same age as one his kids I believe, so of course he’d have different experiences.

  16. Ichthyic says

    Dennis Leary made an entire song about the crowd this type of comedy appeals to.

    they know it. they embrace it simply because it the only way for them to make money in comedy now.

    they could do something else, but no… they go the easy way.

  17. schweinhundt says

    1) I was also completely befuddled why the audience was laughing. Polished delivery aside, this is the sort of material that elicits cringe-worthy near silence (punctuated w/nervous coughs and giggles) at an amateur open mike.
    2) Okay, C.K., why should we listen to you if you haven’t been shot at? Seems like those Parkland survivor teens have something on their resume that you don’t.

  18. says

    A comeback filled with transphobia, homophobia, racism, and mockery of shooting victims?
    I see he exited stage left and went alt-right.
    More likely, his seeming leftish stance was a show designed to appeal to a specific demographic. Now that said demo has rejected him, he is going to play for the Refurbishe Nazi crowd aka 45 supporters.

  19. andyo says

    At least Dennis Miller got triggered by 9/11 which while the wrong response, it’s understandable something like that could change someone’s personality and ideology so radically, Louie got triggered by… people finding out he’s a creep and taking him to task? If there’s any redeeming quality to Miller, I think he’s at least being honest, not so with Louie, seems like a very cynical ploy.

    Although, was Miller ever a liberal leftie?