Those concerned about Louis C.K.'s financial investment in his self-funded recent series Horace and Pete can rest easy. Not only is he not broke, as he's previously clarified after suggesting to Howard Stern that working on the show put him in financial trouble, but also he told a packed audience at The New Yorker Festival on Friday night that he made back all of the money he spent on it. "Yeah, I made it all back. Made it back with all of these people buying it. The debt, everything," C.K. said in a conversation with New Yorker TV critic Emily Nussbaum.
He also said that the show would be streaming on Hulu, cryptically teasing that the series would be "going on a service," before saying, "It's Hulu," and then admitting he might have said something he shouldn't have.
"I have no idea if I have the right to say that," C.K. added before instructing the packed audience at New York's Town Hall, "Don't tell anyone." Hulu couldn't confirm to The Hollywood Reporter that Horace and Pete would be coming to its service.
Horace and Pete's financial performance has allowed C.K. to "write checks to Alan Alda and Steve Buscemi, because they own a big chunk of the show. So that, to me, the thing that's fun is the checks you're writing. To me that says you're doing good."
C.K. also responded to some criticism of Horace and Pete that he'd received from Transparent creator Jill Soloway, who told Vulture that "he didn't talk to any trans people when he made [an episode about a trans woman], because he didn't want to know."
"This is privilege, this is male privilege, this is cis white straight male privilege, where for 5,000 years they've had the handle on the narrative, and for 100 years they've been claiming nearly all of the filmmaking privilege," she continued, later saying, "It's really irresponsible for white cis men to decide they're going to tell a story about a trans person and not bring in trans people to write and act and produce and weigh in on the story. It's not okay, it's not okay."
The episode in question, as Nussbaum explained it, involved C.K.'s character having a one-night stand with a character who suggests in the morning that she might be trans. But, as Nussbaum noted, "it's not entirely clear."
C.K. said he was OK with Soloway's asssessment but explained that, while he respects her, the two have different perspectives.
"I don't have her background. I'm a different person. Anytime you put anything out there you can't expect everyone to like it. I don't find that useful," he said. "She's really smart. Jill has been in the same group of people as me for a long time. We're both the same age. We both struggled the same amount to get to where we are. We almost arrived at the same moment, so I feel a kinship with her for that. She comes from a different background, so that may be how she sees it, and I get it."
C.K. also wondered if she'd actually seen the episode and what she thought of that instead of how he said he approached it.
And he argued that the scene didn't "necessarily" feature a transgender person.
"I don't think it would've been appropriate to probe, and I don't feel that my process is about finding out exactly how this person would talk and 'I need a consensus from the whole community to decide that I'm representing them with this character.' That's not how I work. That's not the responsibility that I take," he explained. "I did not portray a transgender person on this show. This was a woman who was playing a game with me. She may have been transgender. I don't know in my mind if I ever settled on the decision that she was transgender. I actually thought it wouldn't serve the material, which is important to me. It wouldn't serve the mood I wanted to create to get just the right words and figure out just how these things would be said by a transgender person. That's a different project. That's not what I was doing. To me, I wanted it to feel like, 'I don't know what the f - is going on here.' Because it puts the protagonist, who has no idea what this world is, in a really strange and difficult place."
Horace and Pete also touched on politics, with one of the characters saying of Donald Trump that the Republican presidential candidate has a "president hole" in him. C.K., who previously blasted Trump in an email to fans announcing the release of one of Horace and Pete's episodes, explained how the "president hole" thing came out of a theory he had based on an encounter with Trump while working in one of his casinos a long time ago.
"I saw this thing happening where buses were showing up from all over the country but with little old ladies from places like Ohio and Tennessee to Atlantic City … and they filed in to the Trump casino. They take what little they have. They have nothing! They take that nothing, the little tiny scraps, and they turn it into chips and they pour buckets of money into his machines. Then [Trump] showed up and he just walks around," C.K. said, making a face like Trump surveying the scene. "And it wasn't like, 'Hi, folks, thanks for coming.' It wasn't like that at all. That's not what he represented. That was what was fascinating to me. He didn't say, 'Thank you' to anyone. He just walked around miserable-looking. And when I was in the elevator with him, I looked at his face and he just looked miserable. And everyone's like 'Donald!' So excited to see him. And they're giving him everything, and he has everything, right? And they're leaving on the same bus with nothing, just ruining their lives. I saw this as a reverse charity, like a weird kind of charity. These old women, they don't need anything. … They live in a shitty place and they have two dollars, and they're like, 'Eh, I don't need it - it's OK, he needs it!' If he looks in the mirror, and he has 10 dollars, he's going to kill himself. He has a $10 billion deficit in his heart. So if he doesn't have that much money, he's nothing. So they were like, 'Donald, you take this!' They come from miles around to give to him because they're invested in his happiness. It's so big, this desperate hole that people come from all over [to fill it]."
The "president hole," C.K. added, is what he thinks Trump's currently looking to fill: "Now he's like, 'Thank you for your money. Now I need control over your lives. I need that or I'm not going to make it through the day.'"
While C.K. stopped short of endorsing a presidential candidate in his broadside against Trump to fans, even saying he thought it would be good for the country to have a "smart conservative" leader for a while, he told Nussbaum on Friday night that he's a fan of Hillary Clinton and isn't convinced that she's a "liar" as her critics claim.
"A lot of people have problems with Hillary like, 'Oh, she's a liar.' How the f - do you know? You know nothing. [Or they say,] 'She's gross.' Yeah, OK. I'm not convinced. I've never been convinced," C.K. said. "She reminds me of my mom. She's someone who's worked hard, and then she goes, 'All right, go ahead and talk, I'm doing this.' So I like her. And I look at her and I'm like, 'Where's the f - ing piece of shit liar, because I'm really interested in that?' And I'm not seeing it. So I like her."
Speaking of working hard, C.K. said that he's currently focusing on stand-up in an attempt to refine his skills, reflecting on how there are great, veteran stand-up comedians that people don't know about because they just spent all of their time on the road and didn't try to be movie or TV stars.
"Stand-up comedy is my main job. It's all I'm doing right now," he said. "I've never been as good at stand-up as I was in 2008-10, when it was all I did and I did it every night and it was my obsession. It was the only job I had. … I've cleared the decks after Horace and Pete and all I'm doing is stand-up full time and I'm probably going to keep that up until June of next year. That's the goal."
C.K., who's also a dad to two girls, added that stand-up is his "favorite job as a father" because he's crafted his touring schedule around when he has time with his daughters, custody of whom he shares with his ex-wife, and then when he's with them he can be completely focused on taking care of them.