Let's Hold Off on the Louis C.K. Rehabilitation, Okay?

Comedy Features Louis C.K.
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Let's Hold Off on the Louis C.K. Rehabilitation, Okay?

This morning The Hollywood Reporter ran a piece that asked various stand-up comedians and club owners what Louis C.K. would have to do to resurrect his career, which was wiped out in a day after longstanding accusations of sexual misconduct was confirmed by The New York Times. If you want to know what men like Christopher Titus and the Comedy Cellar’s owner think C.K. needs to do to, you can go read that article here. If you think it’s stupid to be asking that question today, barely five months after the news broke, and to a bunch of men, at that, keep on reading.

It’s not like the Reporter is openly calling for C.K.’s invitation back into society, or anything, but it’s still a curious piece to run. Is five months in the woods really penance enough for forcing women to watch you masturbate under the pretext of helping them with their careers? Of course not. So why run this piece now, when C.K. is completely out of the spotlight, with no projects of any note on the horizon? Traffic’s the real answer, of course, as is true with any organization in this business, but there’s still usually some kind of pretext to make that less obvious. C.K. disappeared fully and quickly back in November, though, and unless I’ve missed something there hasn’t been some great online swell of comedy fans begging for his return. He hasn’t attempted to step back into the spotlight yet, and you almost have to wonder if an article like the Reporter’s is the first step in that process.

Also, look at who the Reporter quotes. There’s Gilbert Gottfried, who turns C.K.’s misconduct into a joke that probably wouldn’t even work in his trademark voice. Two comedy club bigwigs, the Cellar’s Noam Dworman and Louis Faranda of Caroline’s, weigh in from the club perspective. Comedians Christopher Titus and Sean Patton both think that the best apology would be a new comedy set where C.K. fully accepts blame and acknowledges that what he did was wrong. That’s five men, who would never have to worry about C.K. cornering them while he stroked himself.

The piece only quotes two women, one of whom is a publicist (strike one) who represents notorious woman beater Floyd Mayweather (strikes two through infinity). Comedian Aida Rodriguez is the only person quoted in the piece who actually says anything perceptive or useful. In Louis C.K. she sees somebody who can use his own life experience to educate young men on consent and advocate for zero tolerance of harassment, abuse and misconduct. That might be one of the best directions C.K. could take if ever tries to restart his career. That’s seven people in the entertainment business quoted in this article, only two of whom are women, and only one of whom offers any actual insight.

What’s most notable is who isn’t quoted in here. None of C.K.’s victims make an appearance. No young women rising up in the comedy industry today, the potential future victims of C.K.’s behavior if the Times hadn’t written that story, are quoted. None of the prominent women in comedy who publicly addressed C.K.’s downfall as it was happening appear to have been interviewed. None of the ones who didn’t address it are quoted, either. Other than Rodriguez, none of the people who most have a right to be heard about C.K. factor into this piece at all. The only people who can set the terms of C.K.’s possible return are those who he wronged, those he could have wronged in the past, and those he would have potentially wronged if he hadn’t been disgraced, and they basically don’t exist in this article.

Nobody needs to be asking what Louis C.K. can do to restore his career until women in comedy feel ready to let him try. Five months is not enough time to forgive his misuse of power or forget how he exploited women looking for career help for his own sexual satisfaction. And to write a piece where people in the comedy industry discuss how C.K. can return, and include the thoughts of only one woman in comedy, is just completely absurd. Whether it’s the intention or not, this ridiculous Hollywood Reporter article essentially feels like the first step in trying to rehab the guy.

Correction: The Hollywood Reporter article also has a quote from comedian Judy Gold that we overlooked. Three women were quoted, two of whom are comedians, along with five men.

Garrett Martin edits Paste’s comedy and games sections. He’s on Twitter @grmartin.