(Curtis Means/ACE Pictures/Shutterstock)
For the last month or so, Louis C.K. has been popping up at comedy clubs across the city in pursuit of some sort of comeback, or redemption, or just attention. Despite being roundly mocked and criticized online, he’s been welcomed by enough people in the comedy community to keep getting back on stage. A constant refrain and criticism throughout all of this is that C.K. has been unwilling to address the fact that he admitted to masturbating in front of multiple women against their will (and allegedly torpedoed their careers with the subsequent series of threats and denials). But at another recent surprise comedy show, C.K. finally commented on it… or more accurately, joked about it: “I lost $35 million in an hour.”
According to LaughSpin, C.K. performed a set at Caroline’s and at West Side in the last week. While the Caroline’s material sounds pretty similar to the sets he’s been trying out at the Comedy Cellar, the West Side one is where things sound a bit different.
“He said he’s been to hell and back,” a comedian on the line-up told them. AMarie Castillo, who hosted, said, “It’s like he didn’t even skip a beat with the year he had. He was so genuine and reflected on how weird his year was, tried out some new dark and dirty material Sounds to me he is owning up, acknowledging, and trying to figure it out.” (Castillo later tweeted that bringing up C.K. was in her top five favorite moments on stage.)
— AMarie (@Part_Time_Bro) October 11, 2018
In the statement he gave to the NY Times last fall—the only time he’s commented directly on the situation up to now—C.K. wrote, “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.” However, it’s hard to tell whether that guy who said he would listen could be found at the West Side Comedy Club. Here’s what LaughSpin wrote:
A source present at the Sunday night Caroline’s showcase and the Wednesday night show at West Side claims there was a stark difference between the two sets. The Caroline’s set was like his previously reported drop-ins, acting like it’s business as usual. On Sunday night “he looked frightened before he went on,” according to the source. He didn’t get huge applause, but he did just okay. “I couldn’t listen to the words because I’m like, ‘Come on bro, really? You’re not going to talk about it?’ It was insane.”
Something shifted Wednesday night. “He was much more confident,” says the source. Castillo says he opened with, “It’s been a weird year” (understatement). He continued talking about how he’s been to “Hell and back”—joking that while he was in Hell he met Hitler. Multiple comedians hanging out that night say he seemed more authentic and real. From the source, his Wednesday set addressed getting booed in the streets and how everyone hates him. “I lost $35 million in an hour.” This audience apparently loved it way more than the unrealistically guarded set just a few days prior—though the comics hanging out were laughing harder than the audience, says the source.
Maybe this is the first step toward him really discussing (but not necessarily atoning, however one chooses to define that) what happened in public—as Sara Stewart wrote recently, he doesn’t have much of a choice, as it’s really the only way he can win back some of the former fans who have turned on him.
“Let your guard down,” she wrote. “Admit you used your male privilege for bad — really bad — and why, in painful detail, it sucks to have done what you did. Admit that it’s what’s still happening to women all over the country, all over the world. Admit it TO THOSE WOMEN YOU HURT IN PARTICULAR, in public.”
Spotted on Houston & Varick (Ben Yakas/Gothamist)
Meanwhile, a street artist has been putting up these fake ads for “Louis CK Contrite: For Repeated Sexual Harrassment of Women.”