So Louis CK dropped a new special last night.
Sincerely Louis CK is his first release (stop it) since the Beacon Theater show in 2011, and the final chapter in his post-MeToo comeback tour, which he launched with surprise comedy club appearances (of course) less than a year after he admitted to accusations of sexual misconduct by five (FIVE) women in November 2017.
Apparently two-and-a-half years without a new video to sell on the internet ($7.99) is the maximum self-imposed sentence for masturbating in front of women at work in a boys-club profession while assuming they have the power to say no AND gut-punching millions of fans who believed that he wasn’t a piece of shit because he was self-aware and funny and wise and funny and a narrator of all the things we didn’t know we thought. And funny.
Okay, I’ll wait for you to stop defending him with the “but it’s not like he raped anyone” argument, that one’s a real classic when it comes to categorising women’s trauma and deciding the appropriate punishment for asshole men you like. I loved Louis CK like the rest of you did, okay. But the particular betrayal of finding out that a man you thought wasn’t trash is, in fact, trash, is a deeply familiar one and very, very difficult to forgive #yesallwomen.
I loved Louis CK like the rest of you did, okay. But the particular betrayal of finding out that a man you thought wasn’t trash is, in fact, trash, is a deeply familiar one and very, very difficult to forgive #yesallwomen.
But hey, he’s had two-and-a-half years and zero self-reflection (see this we are used to) so I thought I’d note at what point he made me laugh in this special that I unwillingly paid for (I’m getting reimbursed). I timed it. It took till 14.45 for a snort and 20.10 for a proper chuckle, though I did smile at 7.05 when he’s talking about the crematorium guy fucking his dead mother.
The show starts with the audience whistling and chanting “Louis, Louis, Louis” and yes you’re right in assuming this is mostly men. But there was some hooting by women too, and when he comes on stage one guy decided to stand up and ovate and then a bunch of people stood up, including women in the front row. Listen, this is not a men vs women thing, this is a me vs every guy who ever betrayed me thing and also an internalised-misogyny-is-a-thing, thing.
Anyway, the audience is super indulgent and laughs at everything including “I’ve been thinking about you all day”, “How were your last couple of years?”, “Anybody else get in global amounts of trouble?” and “Wait till they see those pictures of me in blackface, that’s gonna make it a lot worse”. Although the last one really is funny, see, because no one believes women or takes sexual violence seriously unless it involves an iron rod HA HA GOOD ONE, LOUIS.
You might as well prepare yourself, because he’s not very funny. But that’s okay, it’s hard to be funny all the time and also he’s a lying piece of shit and that takes energy.
There’s a hurricane joke at the end of which he actually says “No, I don’t mean any of that” and it’s pretty damn weird to watch Louis CK issue a disclaimer (he also says “I’m sorry” a few times, it’s weird every time, and is the only apology we’re getting).
There’s jokes about god and 72 virgins (my stomach cramped when he said “whores”) and hating small towns. There’s a hurricane joke at the end of which he actually says “No, I don’t mean any of that” and it’s pretty damn weird to watch Louis CK issue a disclaimer. He also says “I’m sorry” a few times (it’s weird every time) and is the only apology we’re getting. There’s lots of jokes about disabled people and paedophilia and Auschwitz and dead babies—standard Louis fare.
I learned that he went to France last year to escape the wrath of America and fell in love with a French woman because OF COURSE HE DID. His girlfriend is comedian Blanche Gardin who has called him a “monster of sincerity” and idolises him. I mean, I get it. Whomst among us hasn’t opened her legs for a damaged man who feels misunderstood and judged—let her who is without sin cast the first stone, I’ll be in the back with the other sluts.
And then finally, at 51.30, he Talks About It. And has advice to offer, be still my cramping stomach: If you ever ask somebody if you can jerk off in front of them, and they say yes, just say ‘Are you sure’ and then if they say yes, don’t fucking do it. Also, because “women know how to seem okay when they’re not okay” (whatever keeps us alive, right Louis lol), communication during sex is important and you should check in with her often.
Okay, all right.
This got a lot of laughs and despite me being pissed off—because don’t turn it around on the women, asshole, how about just don’t masturbate in front of anyone you know from work—it was the most interesting, most compelling, most honest segment in the show. He also talks about what it feels like when “everyone in the whole world” knows your sex thing, in his case jerking off in front of people. Do you know what it feels like, he asks, to know that Obama knows your thing?
Not that he hurt these women (please, it’s not like he raped them), not that he lied to his audience, not that he rubbished the accusations until he finally couldn’t deny them any longer, not that he wrote a shitty non-apology apology. What bothers him is that Obama knows his sex thing.
Because that’s what actually bothers him, see. The large-scale embarrassment of it. Not that he hurt these women (please, it’s not like he raped them), not that he lied to his audience, not that he rubbished the accusations until he finally couldn’t deny them any longer, not that he wrote a shitty non-apology apology. What bothers him is that Obama knows his sex thing. Maybe the show should have been called Louis CK Still Doesn’t Get It.
I went back to watch the Beacon Theater show from nine years ago to see when my first laugh would come, to separate the art from the artist yada yada. It came 1.5 minutes in and stayed pretty much throughout, because I’m fucked up. And also because that was a far more innocent time, and a far funnier show.
If you feel ready to forgive him, or never needed to forgive him in the first place (cos you’re a dick), or need a laugh because quarantine, spend the $7.99, but remember that Sincerely Louis CK is not sincere, and it’s not Louis CK as you knew him. There is no Louis CK as you knew him.
One thing people always say when defending assholes is well what could he have done differently to redeem himself? Is he supposed to just stop living his life? Is he supposed to stop working? Is he supposed to just disappear? What would make you happy? Well thank you for making that my problem, there’s nothing I enjoy more than being fucked over and then asked how to fix it.
This is what I’d like him to do: Write it. Perform it. Make it funny. Why has the man who uses shame as comedic currency not done an entire show, or at the very least a segment, on (hopefully) the most shameful thing he’s ever done? Why, after five minutes of Talking About It at the end of this special, are we left with “Anyway that’s all I’m gonna say about that shit”?
We’re not done talking about that shit, Louis. We haven’t even started.