On Sunday, August 26th, audience members at New York City’s Comedy Cellar were surprised with a 15-minute set from comedian Louis C.K. This was C.K.’s first stand-up set since November 2017 when he admitted to sexual misconduct toward a number of female comics. The allegations against the comedian, brought forward by five woman, ranged from gross acts of physical and verbal harassment, to indecent exposure and masturbation. C.K. admitted the allegations were true in a public apology, which resulted in his upcoming film I Love You, Daddy getting swiftly pulled from its theatrical release, and C.K. seemingly fading from public view.
That is, until this weekend.
The comedy club’s owner, Noam Dworman, described the surprise set to The New York Times as, “typical Louis C.K. stuff. It sounded just like he was trying to work out some new material, almost like any time of the last 10 years he would come in at the beginning of a new act.” Fellow comedian in Sunday’s lineup, Mo Amer, said C.K.’s arrival was like a “wow moment” for the crowd and that C.K.’s material was “really, really good.” C.K. was even given a standing ovation.
However, Dworman, who says he wasn’t aware the comedian was going to be on stage that night, received several calls the following morning from audience members who said they wish they had been warned C.K. would be performing so they could have opted out of attending.
And many are taking to Twitter to voice their concern over C.K.’s return to the mic.
It’s frustrating to know that an admitted sexual predator is being heralded as some kind of “survivor,” when—as one Twitter user pointed out—he’s not even been held legally accountable for his very real misconduct. Exposing yourself to women without their consent and leveraging your power to keep them silent is not a simple mistake or minor lapse in judgment—it’s against the law, and it derails lives.
Let’s never forget who the real victims in these stories are, and let’s hope the comedy community considers the larger ramifications of allowing C.K. to return.