Louis C.K.’s surprise comeback tour continued at a trio of New York City comedy clubs last week, and according to Laughspin at one of those shows he directly addressed the sexual misconduct he admitted to just under a year ago.
Last Wednesday night at the West Side Comedy Club C.K. reportedly said that “he’s been to hell and back,” according to a comedian on the bill who spoke to Laughspin under anonymity. C.K. also claimed that he “lost $35 million in an hour” after the New York Times story about his misconduct was published last November, and talked about “getting booed in the streets and how everyone hates him.” According to Laughspin, the crowd ate up C.K.’s set, but the other comics on the show were even more into it.
The piece doesn’t really provide the full context for C.K.’s statements about going to hell and losing a fortune. Maybe he wasn’t trying to play the victim and garner sympathy over how he’s been “punished” for masturbating in front of women without consent. Of course it doesn’t really matter how he thought he said it; the end result is the same, with people who are already willing to exonerate him using that info as further justification. And either way it proves something that’s been readily apparent since C.K. first began his would-be comeback: despite the apology he issued last year, he’s not taking responsibility for his actions or trying to make up for them.
By focusing on how his actions hurt his own career, C.K. just proves that he still doesn’t really understand his victims, their viewpoints, or why what he did was wrong. He effectively makes himself into the victim, erasing the women he preyed upon once again. After Dana Min Goodman and Julia Wolov were unwillingly subjected to C.K.’s self-gratification in 2002, they found themselves at a severe professional disadvantage due to C.K.’s powerful manager Dave Becky, who admitted his response was effectively seen as “a threat to cover-up sexual misconduct” within an industry in which he has a significant amount of clout. If that $35 million figure is accurate, that’s no doubt a large hit to C.K.’s bottom line, but most opportunities that Goodman and Wolov—and presumably at least some of C.K.’s other victims—could’ve had to make anywhere close to that kind of money in the comedy industry were sunk long ago when Becky’s response to their abuse was to (intentionally or not) threaten them into silence and prevent them from working with the sprawling 3 Arts management and production company. C.K. might have experienced some suffering from his own disgusting, disrespectful actions, but his victims have suffered more, personally and professionally, from what he decided to do to them.
When C.K. admitted to all of this a year ago, he acknowledged the “scope of hurt” his actions brought upon his victims, family and professional partners, and wrote that he would “take a long time to listen”. Who did he listen to, though? By returning to the stand-up stage so soon, and by using the damage he did to his own career for material, C.K. either isn’t truly aware of the pain he’s caused others, or simply doesn’t care about it. He’s not the victim here, and the fact that he might feel like one proves he hasn’t learned anything.
Garrett Martin edits Paste’s comedy and games sections. He’s on Twitter @grmartin.