Louis C.K. just wants to live in a world where he can jack off in front of girls who don’t want him to jack off in front of them, and us to all just get over it. Stop being so P.C., everybody. It’s costing him a lot of money.
A leaked set from Louis C.K.’s controversial turns at the mic in 2018 has social media up in arms—and for good reason. When transcribed, it puts in bold, italics, underline, highlighter, hieroglyphics, pantomime, whatever you need to understand it: Even though he pledged to be the good guy after all this, he’s annoyed that, just a year later, he’s still persona non grata.
The latter half of 2018 has followed a natural progression. We had been so obsessed with the shitty men. Now what happens to those shitty men? Louis C.K. was supposed to be the perfect test case of how to seek redemption. Then he exposed himself again—this time as a smug piece of shit.
The best introduction into this is the tweet that first alerted us to this leaked set (which has since been deleted), allegedly recorded Dec. 16.
Twitter user @MikeLeePearl, tweeting out segments of the set, called back to Louis’ statement made after several women had come forward to allege incidents of sexual misconduct, in a meme style that’s meant to illustrate how much a person has (or hasn’t) learned in a specific period of time.
In 2017, after the accusations came out, Louis C.K. said, as Pearl recalls: “I have spent my long and lucky career talking and saying anything I want. I will now step back and take a long time to listen.”
He contrasts that with quotes from the set in which C.K. made transphobic and demeaning remarks about gender identity. More, these offensive remarks come after the comedian had also gone to the mic to talk about the “$35 million in an hour” he lost after he admitted to masturbating in front of several female comics. (Those comics, for what it’s worth, have braved the stormy response to their coming forward with their stories and the treatment they’ve received since.)
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.
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.”
At face value, that’s a lazy comedy set. A “kids these days” joke related to gender identity is phoned in, and, more, adds nothing to any cultural discourse besides an expressed intent to undermine it. Considering that Louis C.K.’s comedy has always been considered to set cultural discourse, this seems an intentional decision to mock this particular aspect of it.
We can already see the “snowflake!” critics coming at us like a blizzard, so let’s also point out some other jokes he made in his set. For example, there’s the major set-up in which he continues his grievances about the new “woke” generation by belittling the survivors of the Parkland shooting for devoting their time to crusading for policy reform and joking that they probably just threw a fat kid in the line of fire to survive, anyway.
“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?”
There has been a lot of conversation about Louis C.K.’s sets and his likelihood of making a “comeback” in recent months. Some fans have been thrilled by his surprise appearances to work out new material. Others have been triggered by the warm response a #MeToo-implicated celebrity received, and were affronted by the insinuation that he could show up by surprise at a comedy show and everyone was meant to applaud.
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.
Update: An earlier version of the article incorrectly stated that the set was recorded at the Comedy Cellar.