This Business with Louis C.K.

So, Louie C.K. dropped by The Comedy Cellar the other night to do a few minutes. 18 months ago, that wouldn’t have been news outside of the comedy world. Today? It’s somehow as newsworthy as an American leader kissing the pinky ring of a Russian leader. And that seems disproportionate.

Look, what Louie C.K. did was despicable. There is no doubt about that. I mean, it’s also way weird but … And as far as these things go, I feel it was handled well. I’M NOT DEFENDING HIM! I’m simply saying that his business was shuttered, his creative channels squashed, he acknowledged the accusations, owned them and then retreated. It seemed the best, and most appropriate, course of action for everyone.  

But is nine months out of circulation enough? Apparently not.

Does five or seven minutes of testing new material unannounced constitute malice … or a comeback? No. Poor judgement, yes.

But how long was he to stay away from his job? Was he to be banished forever? Les Moonves is keeping his, Woody Allen is still working … and far too many other jerks have been allowed to continue working. Does Louie deserve further vilification because he copped to it?

As we know, a thrice married man, and serial philanderer, was caught describing flat-out sexual assault and he got elected president. Comparatively, a public rub & tug in front of unwilling participants, WHILE AWFUL, doesn’t compare.

Has Louie effectively atoned for his transgression? My feeling is no. But then, does he have to? What would that look like? What do people need to see to know he is repentant? He’ll carry the stench of this for the rest of his career. Deservedly so.

He also has two daughters that he will someday have to explain this to, if he hasn’t already.  

As Bob Lefsetz recently pointed out, figuring out how to handle all of this is new territory and unless “we all have a seat at the table” (men, women, etc.) to discuss it we’re just going to continue this very painful march toward even further polarization.

I don’t know what the answer is because I’m not entirely sure we agree on the question. For me the question is, how do we make sure that we all have a voice in determining what the proper corrective action is? We can’t have one side yelling “BURN HIM!” and another saying, “Aw come on, it wasn’t that bad.” Because neither is correct.

Don’t watch him, don’t pay to see him and leave if he shows up unannounced, your choice, but should Louie C.K. be allowed to work again? For me, yes. And who am I, as a white male, to say that? Just a guy with an open mind and a firm belief that everyone deserves a shot at redemption.

We should forgive but we shouldn’t forget.

I also believe that if there is one comedian that can turn this experience into a lesson, and some comedy, it’s Louie C.K.

I feel we should let him try.

A version of this was published at, August 31, 2018