After the blizzard of revelations about sexual harassment and abuse by a whole slew of famous people, it was only a matter of time before many of them started to plan their comebacks into the public’s favor by various levels of statements and acts of contrition. One of those is comedian Louis C. K. who has used the mechanism of turning up unannounced at the Comedy Cellar venue for stand-up comics to try out new material as part of his road back, though the reaction has been mixed to say the least.
But Kevin Fallon writes that leaked recordings of the routines he has been trying out suggest that he has actually not learned anything serious from his experience and has instead become more reactionary, even stooping to making “transphobic and demeaning remarks about gender identity” and also mocking, rather than celebrating, the younger generation for their progressivism and activism.
In the set we’re specifically referring to, C.K. talks about how he was excited to be in his fifties and be belligerent toward younger kids in their twenties and their ideas, only to be shocked by the extent of their progressivism.
Basically, he reinvented himself as your new favorite alt-right comedian.
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.
We’ve frankly become exhausted by typing the phrase “when someone shows you who they are, believe them” this past year. What’s been particularly challenging with Louis C.K. is not just believing them, but trying to understand how, and why. This doesn’t seem like the same person who was once the most important and influential mind in comedy.
His actions are inexcusable. His refusal to apologize would be flabbergasting enough. But to pivot to alt-right pandering is just plain disgusting. He’s shown who he is.
You can listen to his routine here.
Imagine thinking the best way to resurrect your career after admitting to sexual misconduct is to mock trans people and Parkland gun violence survivors. pic.twitter.com/SH7wDYe7kA
— Shannon Watts (@shannonrwatts) December 31, 2018
And to dismiss these students as ‘not interesting’? They are a damn sight more interesting than some hack comedian whose time is past and has now descended to the tired old ‘kids these days’ trope that lazy comedians use who don’t know the difference between being edgy and being an out-of-touch, cranky old man delivering low-grade right wing clichés.
Some of the shooting survivors and the parents of the victims of the Parkland school shooting have blasted him for his ‘jokes’ belittling the students’ activism following the shooting while the owner of the comedy club calls him a ‘genius’.
“Louis C.K. is someone who failed because of abusing people in the past, and to try and make a comeback by abusing families like mine only makes him pathetic, disgusting, vile and gross, and he ought to go back to the hole he’s been hiding for the past two years,” Guttenberg told The Daily Beast on Monday.
The fact is that there are plenty of first-rate comedians out there who do not indulge in the kind of humor and actions that are favored by people Louis C. K., Kevin Hart, Bill Maher, Jerry Seinfeld, Chris Rock, and Ricky Gervais. We don’t need them. They should disappear so that space will open up for newer, funnier, and more progressive comedic voices.