Everyone is talking about Louis C.K.’s first return to the stage since last fall when he copped to allegations that he masturbated in front of women in situations where the consent was questionable. Reports say C.K. did a regular 15-minute set at the Cellar at 11:15 Sunday night. He just walked up on stage, and told jokes, and according to Noam Dworman, got a good reception from the audience. He appeared in a black t-shirt and grey pants, talked about racism, parades, and other topics. He did not address the elephant in the room and just did a regular set. Several outlets reported that he got a standing ovation.
Club owner Noam Dworman wasn’t in the room, he was asleep at home when Louis went on stage. He said he was surprised that Louis came back as quickly as he did.
“I understand that some people will be upset with me, he told us in a statement. “I care about my customers very much. Every complaint goes through me like a knife. And I care about doing the right thing. This is a tough one with no clear standard. Mike Tyson is celebrated on Broadway, and Bill Clinton is still a welcome guest at charity events. I remember years ago when I hired an ex-con with a violent past, people admired me for being progressive. I don’t put Louie in these categories, and I certainly don’t think career capital punishment is what’s rationally called for.
Bottom line, I can’t compel testimony, I can’t punish perjury, I don’t have a forensics lab. If I’m judge and jury, I’m going to get it wrong. We have a civil and criminal justice system to punish people. We all respect the notions of fairness that are contained in the rules of due process. The Comedy Cellar is just not the institution to be meting out such serious punishment. I think we’ll be better off as a society if we stop looking to the bottlenecks of distribution – Twitter, Netflix, Facebook, or Comedy Clubs, to filter the world for us. It will just end in one biased inconsistent mess.”
C.K.’s return is major news with reports of his return to the stage appearing everywhere from the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Boston Globe, LA Times and other major papers, all three trades, TV Line, the Wrap, Paste, Huff Po, all three networks, Consequence of Sound, USA Today, Mediate, Metro, The Indepenent, Chortle, and so on.
There had been rumors that Louis was getting ready to come back, with some reporting he would return in early 2019 starting at stages in the middle of the country, and others suggesting he would return to New York City but perhaps to clubs that receive less attention than the Cellar. But ultimately, he chose is comedy home for his first appearance.
Initially, nobody was complaining in the press; all the articles took a very neutral, straight news approach to reporting Louis’ return to the stage. The timing seemed like it might have been just about right- or even about time for a return. Other comedians accused of sexual misconduct including Jeremy Piven, T.J. Miller and Aziz Ansari have been appearing in clubs around the country, and as the rage directed at CK has started to die down more people in the business have been comfortable to say that they would welcome a CK comeback. Earlier this month FX’s President insinuated that he would welcome Louis’ return to the network, and just last week we published a conversation with 5 of comedy’s Gatekeepers. Four of them gave a pretty solid yes regarding the question about whether they would want Louis C.K. to perform at their club. Two of them are women who said they would absolutely bring Louis in to perform in their clubs.
“I just don’t think it is my job to say that what Louis did was right or wrong,” Erin Von Schonfeldtm EVP for Levity Live said. “Who am I to judge somebody else’s choices? If they’re funny and there’s an audience for them, even if I don’t agree with them … Oh, gosh. It’s hard to say where my line is. I know I have a line but I think it’s probably further away than most of you are comfortable with.”
Wende Curtis who owns Denver’s infamous Comedy Works had no difficulty saying she would bring Louis to her club either. “I’m about second chances. I’ve made a lot of mistakes in my life. Maybe I haven’t assaulted anybody, or whatever, but we’ve all made mistakes. I’m about second chances and I’m about the underdog and I would help them. I would do what I could.”
But since the news came out, twitter blew up with reprisals and anger and almost 100% anti Louis. Neutral reports quickly turned to anger, after blogs and media outlets had time to reflect or time to take the temperature of general opinion via social media. Headlines scream indignation, and it is clear that even stepping on a small stage is as unwelcome as it would be if Netflix gave him a 3 special seven-figure deal. Like it or not, Louis’ career has become symbolic of the success or failure of the entire #MeToo movement and the anger is as palpable as it has been at Harvey Weinstein, or Bill Cosby.
Like EW’s “Louis C.K. Picked the Worst Possible Way to Return to Comedy“, Kathy Griffin and More Celebs Criticize Louis C.K.’s Comeback After Sexual Misconduct Scandal, If Louis CK can come back to a standing ovation, has MeToo really changed anything?, USA Today’s Louis C.K.’s comeback performance sparks criticism from fellow comics, Deadline’s Louis C.K. Faces Twitter Backlash After Return To Stand-Up Stage, Raising Questions About #MeToo Road To Redemption, LA Times’ Louis C.K. is back — but is it too soon for him and other #MeToo offenders?, NY Daily News’ Louis C.K. gives first comedy performance since sexual misconduct admission and people aren’t happy, The New York Times Louis C.K.’s Return to the Stage Incites a Range of Emotions (and the range is not really a range at least not as far as the article is concerned), Paste Magazine’s #MeToo Has Opened Our Eyes to Abuse, But Almost Nothing Has Changed, HuffPo’s Redemption Wrong splashed across the front page that leads to a story Just A Reminder: Let’s Not Give Alleged Sexual Harassers A Comeback Narrative, the NY Post’s Marketwatch Louis C.K. is back onstage, but many comics say his return is unwelcome, The Atlantic, Louis C.K. and the Men Who Keep Getting What They Want, The Outline Louis C.K. doesn’t deserve a second chance as a comedian , The Mary Sue Louis C.K.’s Return to Comedy Is Proof That Men Don’t Get Punished, Breitbart’s Louis C.K. Comedy Comeback Sparks Outrage: ‘Get the F*ck Offstage’, The Daily Beast IS TIME STILL UP? Louis C.K.’s Comedy ‘Comeback’ Sends a Chilling Message to Victims, and Think Progress saying Louis C.K. forces audience to watch him without their consent.
A lot of searching uncovered only one outlet posting an article so far that isn’t slamming C.K.’s decision to return to the stage. Free Beacon posted an article that says what it’s titled, If You Don’t Want to See Louis C.K. or Aziz Ansari, Then … Don’t. advocating that any patron who didn’t want to see Louis on stage could leave.