Just 10 months after stepping away from the limelight, Louis made a dramatic, unannounced return to the stage Monday night.
Less than a year ago, Louis C.K. doing a surprise stand-up bit at New York’s Comedy Cellar would have been a fun surprise for fans in attendance. But it wouldn’t have made news.
Today, it’s one of the biggest stories in the country right now.
It was only 10 months ago in November 2017 that Louis was revealed to have committed several acts of sexual misconduct. He took responsibility for his behavior and disappeared entirely from the public stage.
No one knew if he’d ever come back and what would happen if he did.
On Monday night, he reportedly received a standing ovation from those in attendance during his brief set, details of which are still emerging.
Comedians were quick to react online and the reaction was far less favorable.
The reaction was fierce with many women, and men, saying this isn’t how Louis should have done it.
One of the few prominent comedians to defend Louis’ return was Michael Ian Black, whose tweet welcoming Louis back set off a major firestorm across social media.
Black has been a long-standing advocate for women’s rights, but many people were not happy with him seemingly taking the side of Louis. Black later tried to explain the nuance of his tweets but acknowledged people would not be happy.
Will take heat for this, but people have to be allowed to serve their time and move on with their lives. I don’t know if it’s been long enough, or his career will recover, or if people will have him back, but I’m happy to see him try. https://t.co/QmqdGJnIjy
— Michael Ian Black (@michaelianblack) August 28, 2018
What I wish he’d done is talk about what he claimed he was going to listen about less than a year ago. And we didn’t have enough space as a culture for women to try to get people to listen about mythologizing men – instead we had Chappelle call women “weak” on a Netflix special.
— JEN KIRKMAN (@JenKirkman) August 28, 2018
One of my fondest memories is singing my song about loving Louis CK right before he did a drop-in. The idea of him doing a drop-in now feels awful.
I believe people can grow and change, but this urgency to bring him (and others) back SO soon just sends such a bad message.
— Allie Goertz (@AllieGoertz) August 28, 2018
If Louis CK had stolen jokes, he’d be a fucking pariah. But instead he stole careers and passion and trust from possibly brilliant comedians – women that we’ll never get to hear from – and that is worse. Or it should be.
— Jason Filiatrault (@jfiliatrault) August 28, 2018
I wish all the people crying “so Louis CK can never work in comedy again?” felt as strongly about all the women who could never work in comedy again.
— Jennifer Weiner (@jenniferweiner) August 28, 2018
As the #MeToo movement continues to evolve, we’re still figuring out how to handle the next stage. Men like Louis will be examples no matter what – whether they are good or bad ones is up to them.
Wealthy and powerful men like Louis C.K. face decisions both public and private as they decide how to navigate their next steps after allegations of sexual assault and misconduct.
Someone like Louis relies largely on a fan base outside of the Hollywood system — anytime he wants, he can launch a comedy special or even TV show to his personal but substantial email list.
To many, people like Louis should simply go away forever. But it’s clear he wants to return to public life in some capacity. How he does so could offer a chance for education and healing to those affected by the #MeToo movement.
However, his first foray back into that world shows he’s still far from perfect.