On Saturday morning, comedian Louis CK fired off a long, rambling, passionate email to his fans about the candidacy of Republican frontrunner Donald J. Trump. In the screed, Louis, who doesn’t identify as a Democrat or Republican, warned his devotees against voting for the real estate mogul who doth protest too much, writing he “is Hitler” and America is acting like “Germany in the ‘30s.” Louis suggested that instead of voting for “an insane bigot,” readers should support someone more moderate like, say, John Kasich—but not Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders. “I like them both but frankly I wish the next president was a conservative only because we had Obama for eight years and we need balance,” he wrote.
What few people know is Louis actually crossed paths with Trump once in the late ‘80s or early ‘90s, before he was a world famous comic and well before the real estate heir became synonymous with racial animus. Back then, when Louis was a moderately successful stand-up comic, he performed at Trump’s Castle, a gaudy hotel and casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey (renamed Trump Marina in ’97, and later the Golden Nugget, after Trump Entertainment filed for bankruptcy). He recounted the story on The Opie & Anthony Show in February 2011.
“I worked that fuckin’ place,” Louis said of Trump’s Castle. “I’m just watching these fuckin’ old ladies from around the country come on buses—from the middle of Ohio or Kentucky, literally, you see this bus that says ‘Lexington, Kentucky’ on the side of it—and these fuckin’ old women come out of the bus… blood just clotting in their legs. The 60-year-olds are helping the 70-year-olds out of the bus, and they go get shit rooms and then they pour buckets of coins, all their retirement, all they got left, they just pour it in buckets into these machines, and then they leave. So I’m watching all this and it all says ‘Trump’ all over it.”
At Trump’s Castle, Louis says he ran into Trump and his then-mistress Marla Maples, with whom the tycoon was carrying on a stealthy affair while married (with three children) to Ivana Trump.
“Then, I’m in an elevator and Trump got on with Marla Maples at the time, and everyone was like, ‘Oh, there they are!’ They got really excited, like, ‘Oh my god! There’s Trump and the woman he’s fucking illicitly,’” joked Louis. “And they got on the elevator and Trump looked miserable. I was on the elevator alone with him, just by chance, and he just looked miserable. He looked so unhappy. All that money, I realized that he has all these billions of dollars, but he’s fuckin’ miserable because he needs $100 billion to look in the mirror and not want to kill himself. He needs that.” “These old ladies from Kentucky? They don’t need anything,” he continued. “They have maybe $1,000 in the bank, but it’s like a religion—they’re coming to help him feel better. They’re just giving him the money. He’s like, ‘I have $100 billion and fuck everybody, it’s not enough!’ and these old ladies are like, ‘I have maybe $1,000, and you can have all of it. I’ll take a bus all day to give it to you.’”
Louis reappropriated the story into comedy monologue that ran during the second season of his critically acclaimed FX series Louie, where he performs a stand-up routine at a Trump casino and asks the audience, “Folks, why are you giving your money to Donald Trump? Why would you do that? He’s a billionaire and, come on, you work hard for your money! He has billions of dollars and you came here on a shitty bus to give Donald Trump your seventy-five cents. You give him your money, and all you get are tickets to this show—and I’m not even funny.”
The routine doesn’t go over well, and Louis is later reprimanded by a casino manager for violating his contract by smearing the casino—and Donald Trump.