NO LAUGHING MATTER
Parkland Parents Slam Louis C.K. While Club Owner Calls Him a ‘Genius’
Massacre parents and survivors say the disgraced comedian’s routine was “vile.”
The father of a Parkland shooting victim slammed Louis C.K. as “pathetic, disgusting, vile and gross” after leaked audio revealed the disgraced comedian has been telling jokes about massacre survivors.
But the owner of the club that hosted Louis C.K. said it was an honor to have him on stage and claimed he got a standing ovation.
“He brought the house down,” James Dolce, owner of Governor’s Comedy Club in Levittown, Long Island, told The Daily Beast. “He’s a genius.”
Nearly a year after he was driven into celebrity exile by allegations of sexual misconduct, Louis C.K. is in the midst of a comeback attempt, making surprise drop-ins at the Comedy Cellar in New York City and apparently debuting a full-length set at Governor's earlier this month.
But Fred Guttenberg, whose 14-year-old daughter, Jaime, was gunned down at Stoneman Douglas High School, said the jokes he told about Parkland show he should not be forgiven.
“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 audio leaked from the standup routines captured Louis C.K. taking a shot at the Stoneman Douglas students who have become high-profile gun control activists.
“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?”
Cameron Kasky, a Parkland survivor who co-founded March For Our Lives, said he used to be a Louis C.K. fan.
“Comedy is comedy and it’s not my job to police it, but unfortunately for Louis, this wasn’t funny,” he told the Daily Beast. “It appears that he’s leveraging his appeal as a non-PC comic to attract the lowest common denominator. Which is disappointing, I might add, because I once thought Louis’ careless tendencies were quite charming. But no, he has joined far too many others in the bottom of the barrel. Oh well.”
Fellow survivor Aly Sheehy, meanwhile, shot back at the 51-year-old comedian's comments directly.
"Yes we’re 18 and yes we’re supposed to be having fun and all that, but you guys—all the 51-year-olds—who were messing around at our age have messed up our futures," she told The Daily Beast. "So we’re focused on fixing our futures first, and then we’ll go and have our fun."
Louis C.K.—who recently came under fire for a clip from a 2011 HBO special that showed him and Chris Rock using the N-word—has not commented on the backlash. But Guttenberg said he's not interested in an apology.
“When people show you who they are, I’ve gotten used to saying, believe them. He showed who he was. He crossed over a line. To go make fun of these families at this time of year—which has been brutal for us, to be honest—there’s just no words.”
But the father did invite the comedian to come try out his new material on a bunch of Parkland families. “I'll get the crowd together. I hope he’ll take me up on the offer,” Guttenberg said.
Tony Montalto, the father of Gina Montalto, another 14-year-old killed in the shooting, said Louis C.K. should be praising, not making fun of the survivors.
“I try and be understanding of how he makes his living with shocking remarks to bring levity to the world. However, I feel that it’s definitely too soon for such comments,” Montalto said.
“The surviving students should be applauded for their ability to speak out and express themselves. The reason they have a voice is because my daughter and 16 other beautiful souls were lost that day. And to pick on those students minimizes the loss of those 17 families.”
Conservative commentator Ben Shapiro, meanwhile, seemed to suggest that critics were being too thin-skinned in a snarky tweet.
“I think we can all agree that the only acceptable comedy is that if Hannah Gadsby, which involves no laughter but a lot of angry woke commentary,” he wrote. “As a society, we have evolved beyond comedy. The real comedy is that we used to laugh at things.”
Club owner Dolce said no one in the audience should have been shocked by what they heard.
“I did hear that a couple people are perturbed by some of the things that he said. My response to that is that it’s comedy. You know who you’re coming to see. You bought tickets to see him,” he said.
”I have no regrets at all. He’s a legend ion the comedy biz. To have a legend play my club is an honor.”
Will Sommer and Matt Wilstein contributed reporting.