Louis C.K. addressed his sexual misconduct scandal for the first time onstage during a standup set Wednesday at West Side Comedy Club in New York.
The former Louis star opened his set by declaring, “It’s been a weird year,” someone in the audience told the comedy news site Laughspin. C.K. apparently said he’s been to “hell and back,” joking that while he was in hell, he met Hitler. The comedian also talked about how people hated him so much that he got booed in the streets.
“I lost $35 million in an hour,” he purportedly declared. After the scandal, FX — the network behind Louis and Better Things — severed ties with C.K. for all future projects, and he was dropped by his agency, manager, and publicist. His film I Love You, Daddy was dropped by its distributor, and Netflix axed a planned special.
Comedian AMarie Castillo told Laughspin, “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.” A source added that he was “much more confident” at this show than at previous appearances.
It’s the first time C.K. has addressed the scandal since publicly apologizing for sexual misconduct last year. The comedian admitted to masturbating and acting inappropriately with multiple female comedians in work-related environments following a November 2017 New York Times exposé.
C.K. returned to the stage in August after a nine-month time-out. He has popped up unannounced at several comedy clubs around New York City but did not acknowledge the scandal in any of his previous material.
Laughspin noted that Wednesday’s audience apparently “loved” his performance “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.”
The comedian’s attempted comeback has been met with mixed reactions from both audiences and fellow comics and celebrities.
“I think that’s the issue everyone has with it and why it’s such a big deal,” Chelsea Handler recently told HuffPost. “You can’t just come back and act like nothing happened ― you did a bad thing ― depending on which person you’re talking about. It’s about taking responsibility, ultimately.”
Jimmy Kimmel, who is opening a comedy club in Las Vegas, was recently asked about C.K. and said he didn’t have a problem with venues giving C.K. a platform. “If we get into the business of sanitizing every comedian and doing a thorough background check before they walk through the door, it’s going to be a very empty stage,” the talk show host said. “Ultimately, the audience decides whether someone is welcomed back.”
Kimmel’s comments were divisive.
A “background check” isn’t really necessary for someone who openly admitted to masturbating in front of/on the phone to female colleagues for decades. We could just, as a culture and an NYC comedy community say, “Actually f**k that.” @ComedyCellarUSA @jimmykimmel
— Padma Lakshmi (@PadmaLakshmi) October 3, 2018
Comedian Ted Alexandro, who went viral for a set ripping into C.K.’s misconduct, also weighed in on whether his friend should be allowed back into the comedy community. “I think all of that gets worked out over time. I believe in redemption, but I also think that things take time,” he told Vulture. “That’s the hope for anyone — you want people to have redemption, but it is earned.”
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